Silly Stories

The stories here are written in response to writing prompts. You'll find a bit of silliness, and I hope you might even laugh a bit when you read them. These impromptu stories are always fun to write. Enjoy!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Grandma's Garden

Welcome to this week's story for "Tuesday's Tales." Today's prompt was to use DADDOFILS -- or any other flower -- for our story or excerpt. I thought this would be a good opportunity to share a short story I wrote a few years ago. I hope you enjoy it.

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As I strolled through Grandma's garden, stopping to touch a tender bloom or to pluck away the weeds, memories warmed my heart.

Zinnias meant friendship, sunflowers were wishes, and the gray-green moss symbolized charity. Growing up, I spent summers with Grandma, and she made a game of teaching me about the flowers.

"They speak a language all their own, you know."

I looked up to see Grandma standing at the edge of the garden. "I thought you were napping."

She shook her head, and leaned heavily on her cane. "Can't sleep too well these days. Every time I close my eyes, I see this." She gestured with the cane toward the overgrown garden. "I can't keep up with it any more, Allison. I'm afraid it's as bedraggled as I am.”

Grandma was nearing seventy. She was still a beautiful woman in my eyes, yet I could see the changes age had wrought over the four years since I'd last visited. And I saw the sadness as she gazed on her beloved garden. For as long as anyone in Benton Springs could remember, Muriel Porter's dazzling roses and climbing clematis, her carefully-tended junipers and creeping myrtle had won the town's annual blue-ribbon award.

"The garden club will be here Sunday afternoon,” she told me. "Won't be much for them to look at this year." Slowly she turned and walked up the cobblestone path to the house. Sprigs of mint and lavender rippled in the breeze, their fragrance sweet in the evening air.

As Grandma climbed the porch steps, I made up my mind. I had to call Josh and ask for his help. It would break Grandma's heart if she didn't win that ribbon, although seeing Josh again would probably break my heart. No matter. Grandma's garden came first.

As I child, I loved visiting Grandma, and l always looked forward to seeing Josh Barron. We went swimming together in the old creek and played games of tag in the fields. Late at night, when the scent of tea roses and heliotropes hung heavy in the air, we’d sit on the porch and watch the stars.

But when we grew older, Josh wanted things I wasn’t willing to give. Even my friends called me old-fashioned, but it hurt worse when he said it.

“I don’t have time, Allison,” he said bluntly when I got up the nerve to call him. “Your grandma’s got to accept the fact she’s too old to take care of that garden. She needs to let it go.”

I wasn’t ready to let it go. The next morning I walked through the garden again, noting the work ahead of me. Weeds. Overgrown shrubbery. Rotting timbers. I barely knew where to begin. With no time to waste, I set to work.

“Still stubborn as ever, I see.”

I looked up from a petunia I was replanting. “Josh? What are you doing here?”

He pulled a hammer from the toolbelt at his waist. “I’ll nail those timbers up before they fall.”

“Why did you change your mind?”

“Because I knew you wouldn’t.” His dark eyes studied me. “I know how you are once you make up your mind about something.” He looked away. "It's not a problem. I'm working for Dad's construction company. He's got a full crew right now, so I can take a little time off."

"I can't afford to pay you."

"Don't worry about it."

Feeling distinctly uncomfortable, I nodded, and we settled down to work. Now and then we exchanged a few words or a glance or two. Mostly we remained silent. I wondered if Josh felt as awkward as I did.

Memories of the times we'd spent together in the past sprouted inside my head. I tried to yank them out as fiercely as I tugged at the weeds in the garden but with little success. My feelings for Josh were rooted much too deeply.

A few hours later, Grandma brought out a pitcher of lemonade and a plate of cookies.

“Just like old times.” She smiled at both of us.

* * *

The next few days flew by. Little by little, my defenses came down, and I began to feel comfortable with Josh again. Maybe too comfortable. I looked forward to seeing him each day and enjoyed being near him as we worked and chatted casually.

On Friday evening, a lot of heavy work still remained, but Josh assured me he would finish it the next morning. When he suggested we head down to the creek for a picnic, I didn’t hesitate.

I found Grandma's wicker picnic basket, grabbed an old quilt, and together Josh and I hurried off to the corner store to pick up our usual picnic fare: sandwiches, soft drinks, and potato chips.

We spread the blanket out beside the little creek and unpacked the basket. We laughed and talked as we enjoyed the food.

But then, I realized what a huge mistake I'd made. I should never have accepted Josh's invitation. I should have known where it would lead.

Our laughter faded to quiet conversation, and the quiet conversation soon became sweet whispers. Whispers turned to tender kisses, and Josh's arms drew me close in a passionate embrace.

It felt good. So good, I could barely resist.

But somehow I found the strength I needed. I shook my head and pulled away.

"The rules haven't changed," I told him. "I can't give you what you want."

"Oh, come on, Allison! Everything's changed. We’re not kids anymore.”

“Nothing‘s different.” I hastily began putting things away. “I’m still an old-fashioned girl with old-fashioned values. I won’t compromise who I am for you, Josh.” I picked up the basket and turned toward town.

“If you walk away, Allison, don’t expect to see me again.”

I didn’t even bother looking back.

* * *

I woke up early the next morning, stirred a lump of sugar into my tea, and considered the consequences of my actions the previous evening. The garden club would be coming on Sunday. Rejecting Josh meant that Grandma's garden wouldn't be finished on time. Even if I worked all day, I couldn't complete the task alone.

Grandma would be disappointed, but I'd done the right thing, and had she known what had taken place down at the creek, she would have been proud of me for holding fast to my old-fashioned ways. That thought gave me a little solace, at least.

I finished my tea, and with a sigh, I stepped outside. I wasn't quite ready to give up yet. I'd do all I possibly could before I admitted defeat.

I heard a rustling in the garden. My eyes grew wide.


He looked up from a patch of crepe myrtle.

"Morning, Allison."

"I don't need your help," I said, trying to keep my voice steady. "I don't need you in my life, Josh."

"I know. But I need you."


"I need you, Allison. Today. Tomorrow. Forever." He plucked a few of the spreading vines and held them out to me. Their periwinkle blue flowers glistened with early morning dew. Josh smiled at me. “I've never told you this, but when we were kids, I used to come over here, even after you’d gone home at the end of summer. Being here made me feel good.”

“Grandma’s garden is a special place,” I acknowledged.

“She’d come out and sit with me, and tell me about her flowers. Did you know they have a language all their own?”

I stared down at the vines in my hands.

Myrtle. The symbol of marriage.

“You know, Allison, the truth is I've always respected you for being so strong, for being who you are. I love you and your old-fashioned values," he said. Still on his knees, he reached for my hand. "Will you marry me?”

* * *

If Grandma’s garden had won another blue ribbon, our story would have a perfect ending. But Grandma decided it was time to let it go. She called the garden club and told them not to bother visiting.

Yet her garden will always be a special place for Josh and me. We were married there a few weeks later. Afterward, Grandma served lemonade and cookies, and the flowers whispered their own sweet words of love.

- The End -

I hope you enjoyed this story. If you did, please leave a comment.

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  1. I just loved this sweet story. Reading about Allison's grandmother, reminded me of how much I miss mine. What I also like is that Josh accepted Allison for who she was and didn't ask her to compromise her values.

    Thanks for igniting my everlasting memories of my grandmother.

  2. What a lovely sweet story. I loved when Josh said he needed her and handed her the flowers. It brightened my day.

  3. Glad you enjoyed the story. I've always been fascinated by "the language of flowers", so this was a fun story to write.

  4. Oh what a beautiful story. You got me teary-eyed at the end