When Poppies Bloom by John Wheatley

Third place honours in the short story category, Mensa Canada 2017 Literary Contest

Ah, there you are. I thought you would be sitting here in the sun. Look what was just delivered, one of those fruit bouquets with a card from your brother. Bob always remembers our anniversary. It was such a happy day. Almost everything turned out perfect, the food, the music and all our friends were there. Pat and Chris travelled so far too. I wonder where everyone is now? Probably scattered all over the world. Suzie moved to St Helena. Strange to be so far away from everything but she always makes friends easily. I do miss Suzie. You could hear her laugh across the room, and those stories – no holds barred for sure. She still sends Rosie a Christmas card but it doesn’t get here until February. Imagine the trip that small bit of paper takes, more miles than many lifetimes.
I remember the poppies were in bloom, blue ones just like your eyes. We should have pinched some for the garden. They would have looked so nice with the daffodils.

Do you want some of this fruit or should we wait until Sally and Bert come over this afternoon.? They sliced the melon and cantaloupe so they look like big flowers. The strawberries look delicious. Ours should be ready to pick in a few weeks. I saw lots of blossoms yesterday. Maybe there will be enough for jam again. We just need sun. Such a lot of fruit and it won’t keep long.

The view from here has always been my favourite. The lawn is greening up now that the snow is gone. I should get it power raked soon. The trees look so pretty in bloom. Maybe we can go outside after lunch, the yard has a nice perfume. The birds sure like the trees, lots of good nesting spots and places to hide. Funny to watch them fight for the berries. We should put out some more feeders. Those darn crows watch the plums so they can steal them when they are just right. I saw somewhere you can buy a big net to keep them away. So many new buildings since we first came here too. I could never live in an apartment it but I guess it is what they can afford or they just don’t want to look after a yard. Funny, not many real bees anymore but apartments make me thing about bees in a hive. At least we can still see a bit of the mountains.

It looks like it is going to get cloudy, I hope there isn’t another storm coming. I better tuck your blanket in a bit in case the sun goes in. It might get chilly. I’ll go put the kettle on for some tea and phone your brother. Be back in a bit.

Yes, we got the fruit, thanks for remembering. I’m not sure, sometimes the strawberries, I’ll try later. The neighbours are coming over too. Yes, Sally and Bert. Well it is hard to say, sometimes maybe a bit of a smile but it could be just wishful thinking. No, not much else.

Blue eyes gazing across the green. Happy, we were so happy, so happy just to be alive, our little island of happy, and the music, and the dancing. We danced almost all night, not a care in the world, laughing until our sides hurt too. Good times were rolling.

One year we celebrated by the sea. Sand, sun, parasailing, snorkeling, surfing, walking along the beach, waves erasing our footprints. Just like we were never there.
Suzie could sing too. St Helena, funny choosing to be so far away. It isn’t fun being so far away. Michael and Jennie. They have been gone for so long. Seems like yesterday. It was so sudden. It would have been nice to see them one more time, but you never know when it is the last time.

The mountains look so far away. We used to go hiking. Climbing and winding through the shadows and the trees, the ground covered with needles, so quiet walking. Just the birds chirping. Finally getting to the mountain glade above the treeline with a big view into the valley, the rest of the mountain tops against the blue sky, the cars on the road like ants, the air was so clear, the sun so close.

The clouds seem to be lifting, and there is the sun, it seems so bright. And those blue poppies, so blue. Tired now, so very tired.

I’m back. I talked to your brother and thanked him for the basket. He says hi. It is snowing there again.

Having a nap?

Hello Bob, it’s over now, peacefully, just watching life through the front window. At least we had one more anniversary. Yes I’ll let you know when things are decided. Later, bye.