Hey all, this has been a crazy week and I couldn't write until Friday, so this was a quick one. There isn't a lot of action, it is just a simple idea, but my goal with these prompts is to hit the deadline, much like the real world. :)
Thank you to the Reedsy community for all the support we all get here every week!
The thing about flowers is, they are blissful exuberance, even if it is only for a moment. They remind you to enjoy the small things because life is a fragile thread.
My grandmother was the green thumb of our family. She filled her gardens with lilies, orchids, roses and so much more. Every summer it was a beautiful array of chaos.
As a child, I remember thinking, everything is out of order. It’s like she just threw the seeds and let nature decide. If I planted a garden, I thought, I would organize it into seasons, color, and set boundaries accordingly.
I guess I still approach everything that way.
After years of study and research in Botany, they granted me my Ph.D. I suppose it came naturally to me. I still can’t remember to water my own plants, but the science of life just fascinates me.
It had been 20 years since I spent summers with my grandmother; I was too busy to keep in touch. My job was demanding. My team was working to solve hunger in the most affected areas. We needed hearty plants that could grow in unique environments.
Then the news came in a message; my grandmother had passed at home, on a Wednesday. It seemed too black and white for a person whose life brought so much vibrant color. The emotions hit me harder than I expected.
“I need a couple days to take care of some family matters,” I announced to my team.
“But Abbie, we are about to conduct field tests.” a technician named William says, wringing his hands, looking exhausted, like we all do. “This is our ony chance to get this right, our raw materials have run out."
“I know Will, I’ll take tomorrow morning, and be back in the afternoon. I promise” I reply.
That seems to ease the tension.
I wake to the usual breakfast, oatmeal, or something close to that. We are substituting a lot these days.
An hour passes. Why am I dragging my feet? I just need to get in the car and get this done. I doubt Gram had anything of actual value, but the authorities will only guarantee security for several more days, then her home will be fair game for looters.
I slide into my car and stare at the words on the screen ‘Where would you like to go?’ it flashes.
“Another planet,” I mumble.
“Auto-drive?” I say, “Take me to 386 Mulberry Rd., in Easton.” I fasten my seatbelt, darken the windows and close my eyes as the car begins its descent out of the parking garage.
“Call mom,” I say.
My connection barely rings before she appears on the screen.
“Abbie, thank God you are ok, I’ve been trying to call you. Where have you been?”
“Mom, I’ve been working night and day, we have been taking shifts, I barely have time to eat and sleep these days. Don’t worry, I'm going to Grandma’s now. I’ll get anything that has value to us.”
“Are you sure that is a good idea, honey?” she responds, “with the rampant drought people are getting crazy, they are telling us to stay in our homes”
“I’ll be quick, the escalation hasn’t reached here yet,” I reply.
The conversation continues about her friend’s son or something; I tune it out until Auto-drive announces I am approaching the destination.
“Ok, mom I need to go. I'm here.” I say.
“Be safe,” she says as I end the call.
I remove the window darkening and the sunlight floods the compartment, I can feel the heat even inside the car, it’s bad today.
Stepping outside, looking over my Grandmother's home, it is a stark contrast to my memories. The front yard used to be overflowing with life, it is now a snarl of plant stocks, dried and bent. It reminds me of a makeshift graveyard from some old movie. The dust blows and swirls in the yard. Nature definitely gave up the ghost here.
The front door passcode is still the same after all these years. Entering the house, everything is dark; it was never dark when I was a child. She loved the sunlight, but she drew the shades and curtains to keep the heat out. The lovely smell of lavender is familiar, her essence still lingers in the air.
I thumb through papers, look over a few pictures, and smile at photos of me in pigtails. That seems like a hundred lifetimes ago.
“I better get this done,” I mutter.
I look through closets and in her bedroom; taking handwritten letters and notes. She had drawn so many of her flowers; the details are stunning. I didn’t even know she was an artist; I was just too self-absorbed as a kid to care.
Finally, I have a collection of belongings and mementos, now I just need a box.
The basement, maybe? I try the handle, but it is locked.
Grabbing a key I found in her nightstand, I slide it into the lock and turn, and the bolt releases. The door opens hard; it had been shut for a while.
Stepping down the stairs, the cool air is welcoming. I search in the dark for a light switch, finding it, hoping the power is on, then a single bulb illuminates the basement.
The basement is a series of stacked boxes with labels on each one.
She meticulously organized this area, for a woman who seemed to have no rhyme or reason to how she planted things this is quite coordinated.
I look in each box; and find they are full of vacuum-sealed plants and seeds, categorized and labeled.
I step back in awe, I just uncovered the holy grail. There are thousands of specimens here, roots and stems, vegetables, fruits and flowers of many kinds, things I haven’t seen in 10 years, preserved in all their airtight glory.
I literally hop up and down with excitement. The genetic material alone, stored away in this basement, is more than we have found in years.
“I love you, Grammy,” I whisper, “You didn’t just randomly throw the seeds in your garden, you really had a method to everything you did."
"You and I are not so different, and you may have just saved us all.”