Friday, July 29, 2016

Free Fic: The Garden Within


"It's been drizzling all day," Jake complained as he entered the hallway.

"It's good for the garden!" Amanda, his sister, called out from the side room.

Jake hung up his damp jacket and ran his hands through his hair to push out the droplets of water. "Yeah? It rained all day yesterday too."

"Rain is good for the soul," Amanda countered.

Jake turned the corner and stepped into what their mom affectionately called "the morning room" because the early morning sunlight would brighten everything until noon, and then everything would be cast into shadows. To enhance its nature, she'd painted the walls a dark, botanical green and the ceiling a delicate shade of frothy pink. In the sunlight, the room glowed with serenity. In the afternoon, it dimmed, and nobody went near it.

Amanda leaned against the pink cushioned chair while sitting on the floor. Spread all around her on the green carpet were cards and envelopes. The cards had beautiful fern fronds flattened and glued to the fronts. Half the envelopes were addressed and stacked, the others were spread out, waiting.

"What's this?"

"I'm inviting everyone to a garden party at the end of the month." Amanda reached under the pink chair and brought out a teacup. She sipped at it and lifted one eyebrow. "I'm going to invite Levi."

Jake groaned. "Can't you just let it be?"

"He broke up with Paul almost a whole month ago. If you wait any longer to tell him you like him, he's going to get snapped up by someone else. And those amazing parkour moves and perfect abs will go to someone else."

"Amanda," Jake warned.

"It might already be too late. But, in any case, I'm still going to have my garden party. Look." She pointed to the things spread around her. "I'm going to have tables with white tablecloths, and put a pink vase in the center. The ferns are always fresh looking, so I can make those into centerpieces. And I have a whole lot of this velvet ribbon. I'm going to turn it into streamers and bows." She yanked a green and gray striped napkin out from under a pile of fern cards. "And these, on the tables."

"Sounds nice."

"And, pots of tea. Pink hibiscus herbal tea. Plus cupcakes. I'm debating if using green food coloring is too much."

"It is," said Jake.

Amanda shrugged. "White cupcakes, then, and I can frost half with green icing and half with pink icing."

Jake made a face.

"It's a theme, dummy. You can't just have a haphazard party. You need a theme to pull it together." Amanda huffed. Then she pulled out a pink plate from beneath the chair, two pears rolled back and forth before she set it down. "Bowls of fruit on each table. Green pears, green apples. And some finger sandwiches."

"It sounds lovely," Jake said. "I'm sure it'll be a nice party."

Amanda grinned and picked up an envelope addressed to Levi. She pushed a card into it, licked the flap, and sealed it. She held it out to Jake. "This is Levi's invitation. Do me a favor and deliver it for me?"

"I can't decide if you're helping me or not," Jake said as he took the invitation.

"You know you love me." Amanda waggled her fingers at him to be gone. "Go."

Jake glanced to the window. The rain had stopped and the sun broke out from behind the mist. The room's demeanor changed with the brighter light from sulky to quirky and hopeful.

He had no excuses and only opportunity. "Thanks," he said as he left her behind to plot and plan her garden party, and he went out to see if a conversation might turn into something more.

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