BellaOnline Literary Review
Mountains by William Gibbons

When the Marigolds Bloom

Ruthe McDonald

She watched the sun-laced patterns move slowly across her legs as the hours passed. Lazily, she turned onto her stomach and counted the petals of a marigold that she had plucked a few moments before; stopping to breathe in its golden fragrance every once in a while.

"Couldn´t you just stay here forever, Chris?"

"Idyllically, Georgie. I´d bet you stay here forever--picking wild flowers, plucking flower petals, and counting how many patterns the sun made on your clothes."

Georgina´s smile brightened. "Only if you would join me," she said coyly.

"Is that so?" Chris asked laying his head next to Georgina´s arm.

Georgina turned onto her side. Leaning on one arm, she gently brushed a lock of hair from Chris´ forehead. "Of course, Chris. I couldn´t think of anyone better in the whole wide world than you--my best friend."

Chris stared into Georgina´s eyes. She had a way of making a person feel special; especially him.

"You really mean that, don´t you?"

"Chris," she sang, "you know I do." Georgina pushed herself onto her knees.

She looked around the grassy meadow, stretching her arms. It was getting late.

Chris stood first, offering his hand to Georgina. He took one of the marigolds, and tucked it behind Georgina´s left ear. Smiling at his friend, he couldn´t imagine his life without her.

"Why, thank you Sir Chris," Georgina said curtseying.

"It was my pleasure, Lady Georgie," Chris said bowing.

"I don´t think your mother would be so fond of you spending so much time with me," Georgina remarked, her smile waning.

"Too bad. What can she do about it?"

Everything and then some, Georgina thought to herself. "Promise me, Chris. Promise me you won´t forget about me—about us, when you leave for college?"

Chris looked at her puzzled. "Of course I won´t. You know that Georgie. We´ve been friends ever since you told me I had to be in the third grade!" He laughed.

Georgina blushed, hitting Chris on the shoulder. "I did not!"

"Well - something like that!" Chris chuckled. "Either way, I can never forget you Georgie. You are unforgettable," he smiled.

Chris meant every word. He was in love with Georgina Carmichael ever since the third grade. How could he ever forget her?

"I still didn´t hear you promise?" Georgina teased.

"I promise. I promise," Chris said crossing his heart.

Georgina smiled. "We better hurry back before your mom thinks I kidnapped you."

Georgina and Chris rode back to town in silence. They enjoyed their time spent together. It was kind of like their tradition. Georgina´s dad used to take her and Chris when they were small children to Meadow Creek. While Mr. Carmichael would fish, Georgina and Chris would dig for worms. Later, they´d stretch out in the meadow on a blanket and listen to Mr. Carmichael tell old stories. It was a beautiful time. When Mr. Carmichael passed five years ago, things changed drastically for Georgina and her mother. They had to move out of their beautiful home, and rent one across town in one of the poorer sections of Lehigh County. If she didn´t have Chris, Georgina felt in her heart she would be lost.

Chris turned and smiled at her.

He surprised Georgina one afternoon last year with a picnic-basket lunch. He´d just got his license, and wanted to celebrate. He arranged it with Mrs. Carmichael. He picked Georgina up one Saturday morning, and brought her to Meadow Creek. Georgina knew then that she loved Christopher Duncan III. Yet, she would never tell him. She didn´t want to embarrass herself, nor give Chris´ mom a heart attack.

Mrs. Duncan would have a cow if she knew that Chris was with her, rather than one of the many debutants of Lehigh County that she saw fit to fix him up with. Georgina smiled to herself. At least she had today with him. She would cherish it always. She knew things would change when he left for college. She knew he´d move on as she stayed here, and worked in town, helping her mother. Yes, their lives would be very different, and separate. No doubt Mrs. Duncan would see to that. Nevertheless, she was grateful for the time they had. She didn´t really expect him to keep that promise. But there was nothing wrong with hoping, right?

Six years later….

Georgina was never more happy to see seven o´clock. She could finally close up for the day and make it home. She promised Joey they´d have a movie night.

Georgina heard the bell on the door chime. "Sorry, we´re closed. You´ll have to--" Georgina was speechless.

"Hello, Lady Georgie." Chris stood five feet away from Georgina.

Georgina was surprised to say the least. She hadn´t seen Chris in six years.

"Chr--Christopher Duncan the third. What brings you into my little world?"

Chris wasn´t sure how to respond. So he just handed her the bouquet of marigolds he´d brought her. "I hope they´re still your favorite?" He said softly.

Georgina accepted them. "Yes. They are," was all she said. She couldn´t believe that Chris was here; after all these years. He still looked the same, except for the sadness in his eyes.

"I know I´m probably the last person you´d want to see," he stated. "But I just had to see you."

Georgina was quiet.

"I made you a promise I didn´t keep. Can you ever forgive me?" Christopher asked hopefully.

"I forgave you a long time ago, Chris. My mother taught me: life is too short, un-forgiveness too costly."

Chris smiled. "I hope we can talk."

"Why now?" Georgina only asked to be polite. She’d already known the reason.

"Mother passed."

Georgina nodded her head knowingly.

"I know the truth." Chris searched Georgina’s face.

Georgina grabbed her sweater from the hook, turning her back to Chris.

"I should have trusted my heart and believed in us. I´ve always loved you."

Georgina put her sweater on, her hair tucked inside.

Chris moved Georgina’s hair from the sweater. Placing his hands on her shoulders, he breathed in deep. Her hair smelled of Honeysuckle--just like in High School.

Georgina closed her eyes for a moment, remembering the last time they were together. His hands still caused electric shocks to move throughout her body.

She shook her head and moved from Chris' touch.

"It's in the past, Chris. We´re grown. We make mistakes. Hopefully we learn." She walked towards the door.

Chris followed. "Is it, too late?" He looked longingly at Georgina, as she turned to face him.

Georgina was quiet for a moment, although her heart was racing. She always loved Chris; from the moment she saw him. Sure, he'd hurt her, but she also was not forthright and candid with him either. A smile tugged at the corners of her mouth, and she answered, "No, it´s not too late. I´m sure Joey would love to know his father."

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