Moving his skilled and knowing hands over her
body, he added, "And this, what you and me do
together, is the best part of the time we get."
Shuddering under the pressure of David’s
probing fingers, losing herself in his strong arms and hungry
mouth, Lorena had found it easy to agree about what comprised the
best part of life.
The first evening she visited David’s grave,
Lorena gained a peaceful few hours of feeling close to and alone
with him again. Her freesias — delicate, odorous flowering
bushes seldom cultivated in modern gardens — had been in new
bloom, filling the greenhouse with the sweet redolence David
loved. She impulsively carried some of the flowers to him.
Whenever she wore similarly scented perfume he
was entranced and aroused as a high school boy. The perfume had to
be imported all the way from London, and Lorena was ashamed of the
expense, but witnessing David’s delight was more than worth the
cost of a tiny golden bottle.
Creating a floral arrangement for him —
mature flowers set among tiny new leaves and freshly budded
blossoms — eased the muffling fog of grief that was Lorena’s
whole world since David’s death. When it was done she added a
pair of tapered candles to her purse and drove to Caney Ridge,
hiding her vehicle on an abandoned lane a quarter mile from the
A path to the cemetery was familiar from
illicit summer afternoon meetings in the woods, and she moved
through the night confident, with no need for a flashlight.
Pausing at a clearing where she and David had made love, Lorena
wished she’d brought the blanket from her trunk. The evening air
was chill, but it would have been pleasant to lie on mossy ground,
wrapped in a thick quilt that still smelled of him, to lie
there and remember.
David’s grave was still heaped with dying
bouquets from the funeral. Lorena cleared a space and filled it
with her flowers. Without thinking, she began talking to him, the
way she imagined old Elmer Brent talked to his dead wife.
Lorena explained to David the forgotten
tradition of freesias, how before roses became popular they were
the flower of lovers. Lighting her candles, she recalled a night
every pane in her greenhouse reflected dancing flames, and
understood why she’d brought the tapers. She said she loved him
still, spoke out loud how she missed him, and cried for a long
time without realizing it.
She might have stayed until dawn, lost in grief
and pain as hot and bright as the blazes topping her candles, but
lights swept across the tombstones, interrupting Lorena’s vigil.
A car stopped some distance from her, and half a dozen high school
boys took a case of beer from the trunk. An over-amped radio and
raucous laughter destroyed the tranquility of the Brent burying
Busy dividing their cans of illicit alcohol,
the boys didn’t notice when Lorena slipped just inside the
treeline. Standing on the unlit path, she turned to watch the
adolescents approach the grave, attracted by the burning candles.
She was pleased to see them withdraw somberly back to their beer
and radio, without disturbing anything.
Lorena went home to her sleeping son, but two
nights later she went to the cemetery again. She built another
arrangement of freesias—six white ones surrounding a single
salmon colored blossom—and this time included a fresh pair of
candles as an integral element of her creation. No giggling
teenaged boys interrupted her: she waited until well after ten o’clock
before leaving the house, ashamed of leaving her son alone and
After that she went to the cemetery nearly
every night, as soon as he was asleep. If she could persuade the
elderly lady who lived across the street to stay late, Lorena paid
double for the inconvenience. If not she went anyway, guilty but
unable to stay home.
Her mind was nearly made up to leave Hawkes
County. She meant to talk about her decision where David could
hear, to listen in her heart to what he might say about it.
David would have thought she was crazy for
believing her heart could hear him. But Lorena knew about being
crazy. She’d lived for years in a faraway place with lots of
crazy young women. She didn’t think she was like them, then or
David was wrong.
Surely her heart could hear.