Sunday, June 2, 2019 • Short Stories
Leaving for Lavender
The man planted the lavender in a pot and set it on his porch in a spot of afternoon sunshine. He thought its aromas might drift through the open windows and scent his entire house. But this never happened, because lavender doesn’t perform such miracles, not miracles so ordinary as that.
The lavender became one of those forgotten plants that linger on the outskirts of importance, only watered when others received water, and even then, only the last drops remaining in the watering can. It learned to struggle upwards while thirsty, it thrived and grew more beautiful, but no one seemed to notice. So it came to think itself useless, that all its fight was misdirected and meaningless. At night, when the moon was a sliver and the gray owls hooted from their hollow homes, the lavender felt itself the youngest child in a very old world.
The man fell in love with a beautiful woman and he thought her more special than all the flowers he’d ever grown. As a boy he had wandered in his grandmother’s garden to lay amidst the daisies and tulips and daffodils, and he thought this woman even more special than those flowers too.
One night the two of them were in bed ready for sleep. The woman was sad and the man didn’t know why. He thought all the things he might have done wrong, because this is usually what one thinks first. He thought of asking her questions, but this too seemed a solution all about him (and maybe she didn’t have any answers either). So he did nothing, but lay there beside her, close but wordless, with a mind incapable of such a miracle. He waited and in the darkness came inspiration.
He quietly left the bed and went out to the porch. He returned and lay beside her, and held a sprig of lavender in his hand.
He began to gently pass the little leaves across her, over and back, her neckline, her breasts, her shoulders, her clavicle, her stomach, her little chin. The lavender let go its oils and covered her until she shone like fairy light. Her eyes closed. She breathed in the perfume of the tiny sprig until it became brave with her sweet attentions and adored her, and it gave her its everything and bloomed enormous and its smell might have filled cathedrals then. Isolation left the woman. She forgot the world and was contented. And, soon, she was asleep.
The man waited until she dozed before he stopped the lavender trails. Then he rolled onto his back and twirled the little woody lavender stem between his fingers; lifted it to his nose. It was still full with its music. He asked for its forgiveness. His eyes became heavy. Streetlight shadows shifted upon the ceiling and he lay on dark-tilled soil amidst an orchard of petals and sunshine. He felt for her hand, and finding it near the rose bushes, he fell asleep too.
Outside in the darkness stood the lavender. Nothing had changed. Nothing. But a pinch.