The White Hydrangea
The afternoon was warm, and quiet. A breeze was tickling my skin as I walked through that old garden. I felt the soft, red soil between my painted toes. I carried my shoes in my glove covered hand; in the other I carried a funeral program.
I came to the old marble bench near the sunflowers and the delicate pink rose bush. The memory of me and Grandmother came back to me. Grandmother was everything a proper southern lady should be. From her white teased hair to the string of pearls around her neck. She kept her nails painted and her nose powdered. Anyone who knew her always said, "Oh Lelia, she was as sweet as the tea she brewed.” They would be right too. Grandmother never said a harsh word to anyone, unless they needed to hear a few. She had a rare type of class that could only be obtained through proer raising and all those years of life.
We would sit on that marble bench and talk for hours when I was younger. Grandmother told me about how it was when she was young. She was born in 1924 and she would tell stories of her growing up down in Savannah. About her adventures with the house help and she would just laugh every time she would tell a story of playing a mean joke on one of her 8 bothers. She was the youngest and the only daughter in the Sheperdson family. Grandmother married young, at fourteen years old. She was married to Grandfather for around 65 years, I forget how many now. But he died long before I was born.
Grandmother died on my Daddy’s birthday, March 4, a month and two days before mine. I was named after her. I was given her middle name. Mae. Now my name is Mae Elizabeth. It is a month before my birthday and the day of Grandmothers funeral.
I sat on that old bench and I watched the sun sweep across the sky. I noticed it was warm, unusually warm for a March day.
“I won’t stand for cold weather, I promise you Mae Elizabeth, I’ll die from the cold and the Lord will tease me and make my funeral about as warm as it could be.”
The memory brought a tear to my eye; I swept it away when I heard people walking towards the back of the manor.
“Hide your tears my Belle, showing a smile on your worst day makes you stronger than you could ever imagine. ”
I remembered the way she called me “My Belle,” she claimed on the day I was born that I would be the southern belle she was. She claimed she could tell from the way I would bat my eyes in the light. “Those lashes are a mile long! Now, y'all do know that she will be just the sweetest dish.”
I looked up from the beautiful vinework on the bench and saw my momma and Aunt Shelly walking towards me.
“Mae Elizabeth, come on now; you're wanted inside,” coaxed Momma. She knew I didn’t have much interest in pretending to remember distant family and buisness partners.
“Alright, I’ll be there in a minute. Go on ahead.” Momma sighed in defeat and turned, walking away leaving me with my thoughts and the rose bushes. But Aunt Shelley sat next to me on the bench.
Aunt Shelley wasn.t my aunt at all actually, she was my cousins wife. But since she was fifty three she always seemed more of an aunt. She perched herself next to me, her tiny frame turning towards mine. "Now, Mae.. I know you're just awful upset but we need you to put on a brave face for everyone. You're the youngest and the last grandaughter and you resemble her the most too. Everyone is going to be looking to you to see how to act. If you're melancholy, the entire room will be too. You know that's how it is."
"I know Aunt Shelley, you can go ahead. I'll be right behind you."
With a comforting look she stood up and squeezed my hand, then walked away down the old dirt path, past the black rocking chair under the old oak tree.
I rose from the bench and stepped on the stone path with my bare feet, I stepped on every stone, taking my sweet time. As I walked through the old gate door, a gleam caught my eye. I looked up and I felt my chest tighten.
I recognized that black truck anywhere. I walked around the back of it just to make sure.
“John 3:16, In loving memory of Matthew James Carter, lost but never forgotten.”
As I read those all too familair words, I felt my stomach drop and suddenly the lace gloves covering my hands were much too warm. That was him. Blanton Gregory Carter. My left hand clenched around the funeral program as it started to burn and tingle, like a million fire ants were pitching a fit. I stood there for a moment not wanting to move, thinking that maybe this was a dream, but that was silly. I tried to ignore the butter flies in my stomach as I straightened my dress and hair and slipped my nude-colored heels on.
I walked into the foyer and saw most of the people who were at the service; I was immediately engulfed in a sea of hugs and condolences. I thanked them each genuinely and walked towards the dining room. I stood next to my mother and bowed my head while Daddy blessed the food. I looked up from the blessing and saw the outline of a body I had memorized. Broad shoulders, the thick frame, the head to toe toned body. I saw his wavy blonde hair and the straight line of his nose from the side. His cheeks were pink and his cheek and jaw bones were strong and masculine. He turned to look at me and his beautiful icy blue eyes bore into mine with sadness and joy. He turned his chest towards me and I remebered how his chest felt under my hands. I remembered the softness of his lips and the sweet smell of his skin. His signature slow walk started towards me. I couldn't move, I couldn't breathe..I couldn't even blink, much less stop gazing at this beautiful man.
I felt absolutely sick to my stomach… Why is he here?
_________________________________________________________________________A/N : Thank you for reading! If you would like for me to continue writing chapters please like/ comment below. Chapters are ready to be published but will only submitted if more is demanded. Thank you!