Janessa hated the outdoors. She hated the smells, the sounds, and the sights. But she never had to worry about working outside in the garden, because they had a landscaper. She never had to do any work. But that was before her parents died. Janessa was to be thrown into a foster home like she wasn’t important. She had all of her things packed, and she was ready to move into her new home. Her caseworker, Amelia, brought her to the door of a quaint little cottage. It was nothing compared to her mansion, but it would have to do. Amelia rang the doorbell. A woman answered the door.
“Come in, come in! I’ve been expecting you!” She said, not trying to hide her excitement, as Amelia and I walked in. “My name is Kathleen, but you can call me Leena. I’m so excited!” She was so happy she squealed. She walked over to a chair in her front room. “Please sit! I made cookies!” Janessa hadn’t had a cookie in forever. She was always eating healthy to maintain a fit body. Janessa grabbed a cookie and took a slow bite.
“Oh my God! These are the best cookies I have ever tasted!” Janessa said, sitting down The cookie was warm and gooey; it was perfect and fresh from the oven. Leena giggled a bit and took one too.
“Do you have anything else you need to get from the car?” Leena asked. What she did not know, is that Janessa had brought everything. From her studded Stilettos to her Gabrielle Chanel perfume. Janessa nodded her head. “Well, I will help you carry in your bags!” She said, cheerfully, while standing up.
Amelia led Janessa and Leena to the back of her pick up truck. She unrolled the cover of her truck bed, and Leena was gaping at what she saw. There were dozens of pink luggage bags; there wasn’t a bare space in the truck bed. Leena grabbed four bags. She had one tucked under each arm, and one in each hand. Janessa grabbed six tote bags; she had three in each hand. Amelia grabbed four big bags; two giant duffle bags in each hand. When Leena got to the door, she set the bag on the third step, so she could open the door. Once she opened the door, she picked up the bag again and stepped into the house. She started a neat pile in the front room. Amelia and Janessa set their loads into the pile.
“How many bags are left?” Leena asked.
“Enough for us each to take two more trips with the same size load,” Janessa said. She was starting to feel bad because of all her bags. Leena grabbed a doorstop and put it at the base of the door to hold it open. The three of them went back out to the truck, and they each grabbed the same amount of bags. Then, they came back in and added to the pile. Once more, they went to get the remaining bags. Finally, they were done.
“That was a workout!” Leena said, flopping onto a chair. “Would you guys like some water or lemonade?” She perked her head up after a few minutes.
“No, thank you. I really must go. Bye Janessa! I will see you in a week!” Amelia said. She picked up her purse and left.
“Would you like to go out to eat for dinner, or would you like to order something in?” Leena asked.
“Can we order Chinese take out? I haven't had that in forever.” Janessa asked. She wanted to get to know Leena better.
“Of course!” Leena replied, grabbing her phone to call it in.
The Next Morning
Janessa woke up in the morning, to the smell of bacon. She looked at her digital alarm clock. It was five-thirty in the morning. Why was she up already? Janessa wondered. She threw the comforter off of herself. She hopped out of bed and grabbed a duffle bag. She ruffled through the bag, in search of a pair of joggers and a t-shirt. She found a coral colored Nike shirt. She grabbed another bag, to find her matching sweats. The sweats were black with a coral stripe down the side. Janessa got dressed and followed the smell of bacon, that wafted into the kitchen.
“Why are you up so early, Leena?” Janessa asked. Leena had a plate of bacon on the counter, and she was beginning to make some scrambled eggs.
“We are going to do some garden work. It is a very relaxing thing to do.” Leena replied. “I was going to let you sleep in. I’m glad you saved meme work.” She poured the scrambled eggs into the pan.
“We? I never said I wanted to work in your garden!” Janessa exclaimed, raising her voice.
“I’m sorry, but I thought that it would be fun. Like a bonding session.” Leena said, bowing her head, with a sad look on her face.
“Fine. I’ll try it. But don’t expect me to have fun.” Janessa said. Leena perked back up, like a wilted flower that had just been freshly watered. She finished making breakfast, as Janessa set the table. Once everything was set and ready, they ate. After that, they cleaned up.
By six-fifteen, they were out in the garden. Janessa took a nervous glance at the dirt. She knelt down and pulled a dandelion from the dirt. It actually was kind of satisfying. She pulled another dandelion from the ground.
“Are you out here every day?”Janessa asked. Leena nodded her head. There weren't enough dandelions for her to pull. Janessa peered over at Leena. “There aren’t enough dandelions for me to pull. They are very satisfying.” Leena looked up. She giggled.
“Those aren’t dandelions! Those are Sow’s Thistle! They look much like dandelions. But yes, I do agree that they are satisfying to pull.” Leena said. She beaconed Janessa to her with a waving gesture. “There is some for you to pull over here.” Leena was pulling an ivy-like weed.
“What is that one? It looks fun to uproot.” Janessa asked. She pulled off her garden gloves, which were too big. Her hands were hot and sweaty. She hadn’t even noticed the feeling before. She had a swipe of dirt on her left arm. She was beginning to remember why she hated the outdoors; however, she was loving the thing she hated the most. How ironic, she thought, I actually do love it!
“It is Creeping Charlie. It is bad for my hydrangeas. So, are you having fun, Janessa?” Leena asked. She was in the middle of taking off her gloves and wiping sweat off of her forehead.
“Yes, I can’t believe that I actually enjoy it. All of your flowers are so beautiful!” Janessa said, “Can you give me a tour of your garden, and tell me what all of the plants are?” Janessa loved all of the colors; Leena had opened her eyes, and now Janessa loved the outdoors. It only took one hour for her to love this.
“Of course! I’d love to show you my garden!” Leena said. She started at the flower bed that they were kneeling by. “These are my hyacinths, these are my hydrangeas, these are my daisies and these are my gardenias. Over there we have my petunias, and chrysanthemums, and my bleeding hearts. I also have roses, tulips, daffodils ....” Janessa stared off into space, remembering her mother’s garden. She remembered the roses and bleeding hearts. Her mother kept a color code to her garden every year. Janessa remembered the reason that she started hating the outdoors.
The flocks were waving in the wind. There was only a slight breeze to the beautiful day. “Janessa, do you want to come to see Mommy’s new flowers?” Her mother called.
“Yes, yes!” Janessa exclaimed, running at full speed to the garden. She was barefoot, for the grass was soft. “They are so pretty, Mommy!” Janessa exclaimed, once again. Janessa looked up at her mother because she was so proud of her. She spun in a circle, giggling as she spotted what she thought was a bumblebee. It was a hornet. Janessa saw the beauty in it. She was deathly allergic to bees. But she didn’t know. She chased after it and it stung her.
“Janessa!” Said her mother. She ran inside to get Janessa’s Epipen. She burst out and stuck the needle into her little daughter’s arm. She called an ambulance soon after that. It took Janessa to the hospital. Once Janessa was done swelling, she got to go home; however, she preferred to play inside, so instead of helping her mother with the garden, she helped her mother cook.
Janessa hadn’t realized that she was crying until she felt Leena’s arms wrapped around her. “I miss her Leena. I miss my mom.” Janessa said. Leena hugged her until she stopped crying. “Thank you, Leena. You helped me remember that there is beauty in all of the little things. I will love that forever.”