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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Tribute · #1230062
Garden talk between cousins who never met. One is a ghost. Won 1st place Mixed Genres.
         Matthew always loved playing in the dirt. From the time he was a baby, he would find a way to get in the mud. Every spring, his father would plant two flower beds. One would be right in front of their house, while the other was in the backyard next to the in-ground pool. John, the father seemed to have a green thumb when it came to plants. He would take an annual trip to the neighborhood nursery to purchase all of the supplies. He took Matthew along on these trips ever since he could walk. Matthew loved all the sights and smells of the nursery. The one thing that John would do is buy the same flower flats every year: petunias and carnations. He would plant the carnations in the front away from the chlorine.

          This spring, Matthew was six. He was becoming very knowledgeable about flowers and had his own opinion about what should go where. When he and John went to the nursery, it was he, not John, who asked the clerk about planting certain flowers and where. John was both taken aback and proud of his son's candor. After a mini lesson in gardening, the guys left with their wares and headed home to begin the yearly ritual.

          While John was unloading the flower flats and potting soil, Matthew went inside to tell his mother about their trip and to change his clothes. Soon, he returned to assist John with the flower planting. His mother, Denise, came out to see what they brought home. Upon inspection, she found two tea rose bushes: one pink and the other purple, a hosta plant, a half flat of violets, and half flat of azaleas, snapdragons, daisies, and carnations. She was pleaseantly impressed with Matthew's expertise. She went back into the house while the men went to work.

          John forgot the gardening tools and gloves in the garage. When he went to get them, Matthew sat and waited.

         "Matthew? Are you there?"

         "Who is calling me? Dad?"

         "No. My name is Geriann. I'm a ghost. You don't know me, but I'm your cousin."

         "A ghost? How can we be cousins if I don't know you? I can see you."

         "I died many years ago. I was two years older than you are now. The reason I came here is to have you pass on a message to your mom. She is my first cousin. She took my leaving very hard. You and I would've been second cousins. You have to do me a favor though."

         " What? I'm confused. What is the favor? What is the message?"

         "You must not tell anyone you have talked to me. Adults do not see ghosts like we kids do. They would not believe you. The favor I want you to do for me is to give your mother a message.. Tell her that everything will be fine in a week. She will know what it means. I am fine and safe. I am in a good place. I am with family."

          Matthew was dumbfounded and very bewildered. He promised Geriann that he would pass on the message to his mother and would keep their secret. John returned with the tools and gloves. He looked at Matthew and sensed something different about his son.

         "Are you all right, buddy?"

         "Yes I am ok. I have to go into the house for a minute to talk to Mom. I will be back out soon."

         He went into the house and talked to his mother. Soon, he came bounding out, ready to plant a new crop of life. For the rest of the spring and summer, Matthew and Geriann would meet in the garden promptly at 3:30 and talk endlessly until John retured from work. They became forever friends.

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