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Sweet nostalgia

Sweet nostalgia

By DamilolaPublished 3 years ago 7 min read
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Sweet nostalgia
Photo by James Lee on Unsplash

I walked into the garden, keeping in mind it’s my third visit of the day. Today’s the 24th of May. Exactly three months since she went missing. And every single day I have visited this place, each time with a heavy mind full of regrets and a rucksack filled with her favourite fruits.

I would sit down, with my picnic supplies, carefully laying out three red apples, a slab of cheese and grapes and two glasses of cider. Sarah always said her prayers before any meal. Even if it was in a wheat field in the middle of nowhere. Even if she was famished and had waited all day for her favourite meal. The prayers always had to be said, out of tradition and out of respect to her catholic roots. On this day, as I laid out the 90th picnic alone since the day she went missing, I simply asked for a sign from her, to point me in the direction of her location. I wished she would walk towards me with her big infectious smile, and tell me this was the biggest prank she had played on me yet. But the harsh feeling of loneliness soon hit my body, reminding me that I am alone again on this particular visit.

The night was cold, with only the gentle rustling of the leaves in front of me and creepy whispers of the crickets. I had chosen a separate part of the garden the last few visits, as winter was starting to lay its grounds and picnic under trees had become too cold to bear. I quickly put on the khaki jacket I always had in my rucksack, as the cold was starting to cause my teeth to chatter. My eyes wandered quickly to the sign in red bold letters in front of me.

DO NOT UPROOT THE FLOWERS.

I had always kept to the rules of the garden, as I knew just how important the garden and its upkeep was to my best friend, Beatrice. We had all gone to the same secondary school, and since the garden and its contents were all that had been left to her by her parents, we all respected the space whenever we came over.

For a second, my mind wandered to the fond memories I had when we were much younger. My mother had been strictly against dating Sarah and called a few meetings for intervention. Questions of how two women could have kids and whether we could sustain the lust they thought had overtaken us filled the air in each torturous meeting. I had always left feeling defeated, running straight to this exact garden where we all laughed at our parents and drank ungodly amounts of cider. Every single Saturday, Sarah and I would sneak out at exactly 6 p.m., with Beatrice waiting for us at the gates to allow us access in. We would sing and share kisses underneath the majestic mango trees, whilst Beatrice kept watch at a distance just in case our parents came barging in. But that was 15 years ago, and even though both of our parents refused to honour the invitations for our wedding, they couldn’t help but finally accept we had decided to spend the rest of our lives in each other’s arms. Life was good, better than ever, till Sarah went missing a few months ago. To the town's police department, she was just another statistic, as 5 other women had gone missing in the past year, all with cold leads.

I pretended to enjoy the cheese I had laid out in front of me, but it had no taste. All I could think about was Sarah and how much she’d talk about the properties and consistency of different types of cheese from the Christmas markets. Normally I’d pretend to listen even though I was incredibly bored, but today I would do anything to listen to her conspiracy theories and any other thing she wanted to say to me. I was soon jolted out of my thoughts by footsteps approaching and found myself on my feet pretty quickly.

”You’re here again?” Beatrice said, with a strange look of surprise on her face as she bent down to pick up one of the grapes.

”Yes I, I—” I muttered quickly, unable to form a sentence as I hadn’t expected to see her so late in the night.

”I just wanted to have a picnic, you know, like old times,” I finally said, breaking the growing awkward silence between us.

“You were sitting on the marigolds...” she said, glancing down at the squashed flowers beneath my feet.

I looked down quickly in surprise, wondering whether I’d been so overtaken with grief that I hadn’t noticed the new row of flowers in the garden. Over the years, Beatrice had grown lilies, roses, tulips, African daisies and every type of flower you could think of. But she had never grown marigolds. At least I hadn’t noticed them, not even yesterday when I visited. But with the recollection of how big the garden is, and the fact that I had always maintained the one spot under the mango tree Sarah and I used to visit, I realised it would have been easy to miss them.

“I’m so sorry, I honestly had no idea, I managed to say. They’re so beautiful, Sarah would have loved them.”

”Yes, she would have. They were her favourites, did you know that?” she asked, before walking off into the distance almost immediately, leaving me to wonder whether her question was rhetorical.

”Don’t stay too long Linda, go home and get some rest! I forgot my diary in the shed, I’m going to go home and get some sleep,” she said, blowing me a kiss before closing the gate behind her.

”See you at the location for the search party tomorrow?” She asked in a concerned tone, alongside a very sympathetic look on her as she closed the gates behind her.

”See you tomorrow babe,” I replied, with a heavy feeling in my stomach as I realised I’d probably be back here tomorrow after the stressful search, seeking comfort and indulging in more nostalgia. Beatrice had been incredibly helpful with the search, something I was not surprised about, as I had always suspected she had grown a little bit of a crush on Sarah over the years. Even at that, she had stood beside us through every important step Sarah and I had taken, including being the maid of honour at our wedding. She had dealt with her disappearance in a very proactive way, organising search parties every week, long after the police had given up on their search.

Once Beatrice left, I took a glance at the marigolds again. She’s right, Sarah would have loved them. Not only because she would usually join Beatrice in counting how many species of flowers there were in the garden, her eyes lighting up at the sight of new species, but because yellow was her favourite colour. And all the gifts I had gotten her for the past 15 years had been yellow, including the yellow earrings she has been wearing the day she went missing. With the realisation that the flowers were already squashed and wouldn’t grow back, I decided I would take some with me. I had no rationale behind my decision, as I knew the flowers would eventually die, but I also knew Beatrice hated dead flowers and would be grateful if I got rid of them.

As I picked the flowers one by one, I realised there were just six of them, only one of them hadn’t been crushed by my antics earlier. Six struck me as an odd number, seeing as Beatrice had always dedicated an entire section to new flowers.

Nonetheless, I picked up the squashed flowers. It wouldn’t matter anyway I thought, wondering if by any stroke of luck I’d be able to replant the last untouched one in a flower pot and keep it as a gift for Sarah when she finally returns. And so I bent down to uproot the flower, tugging carefully to avoid breaking off the stem and rendering the flower useless for replanting.

But my eyes soon caught something that took me by surprise. Buried deep in the dirt just one layer below the marigold flower was a familiar-looking object, it was glass with a shiny quality to it.

Sarah’s yellow earrings. The ones I had gifted to her on her 32nd birthday.

Stuck in a state of shock and confusion, I dug deeper, throwing off the dirt behind me quickly as I searched for something I wasn’t ready to accept.

It didn’t take long for my eyes to catch a gruesome discovery.

An amputated foot with delicately painted yellow nails and a silver toe ring.

Short Story
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About the Creator

Damilola

poet, wanderer, writer.

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