Daphne's gift means so much more to Laura than a simple tree.
|Laura dug into the rich soil, scooping out a pile of velvety black, to make room for one of the bulbs sitting next to her. As she loosely packed the dirt around the bulb, the sharp squeal of the backdoor alerted her to Daphne’s arrival.
“Hey babe,” she called out, smoothing a strand of hair from her sweat-slicked forehead. She glanced up to see Daphne struggling with a large pot while she tried to shut the back door. She jammed her shovel into the ground and rose to her feet, dusting off her knees and shins.
“Don’t get up, I’m bringing it out to you,” Daphne said, managing to finally slide the door shut. Using her hip, she bumped the porch door open. When Laura saw the small sapling rising out of the pot, she covered her mouth with her hands.
“Is that a…” she whispered. Daphne nodded, a smug smile spreading across her wrinkled face. “Where have you been growing that?”
“At the office. I wanted it to be a surprise and was trying to save it for our anniversary, but with all the heartache lately, I figured we could use some happy news. So, I brought it home early.” She plopped the pot down on the ground beside Laura then leaned in for a hug.
Laura wrapped her arms around her wife and squeezed her tight, taking comfort in the warm vanilla and sunshine fragrance of her skin. Tears stung her eyes, but she bit down on her lip to keep them from falling. This was too happy of a moment to let grief ruin it.
When Daphne released her, she dropped into a crouch beside the little tree. With only a thick stem and several plumes of heart-shaped leaves, it wouldn’t look like much to the average person, but she knew better. It was an orchid tree, exactly like what blossomed in her parents’ front yard until her father chopped it down after her mother died.
“I have to ask, is it purple?” she wanted to know. Again, Daphne nodded. Laura clasped her hands over her heart with delight, but once more the tears blurred her vision.
“Don’t cry, I wanted to make you happy, not sad.” Daphne touched Laura’s shoulder, trying to send her physical reassurances and stem the tidal wave threatening to drown Laura.
“I know, I’m sorry. I mean, it’s beautiful, and I am happy. It’s just, I wish Mom got to meet you. She would have loved you.” She covered Daphne’s hand with her own, before leaning her cheek against them.
“Well, she raised you, so I can’t help but love her.” Daphne squatted beside Laura, touching their foreheads together.”
“Yeah, well, so did my father.” They sat quiet, thinking of the man who cut all ties with his only child when she came out. When they got married, he didn’t walk her down the aisle, and now the cancer claimed his life, he’d willed everything to his church. Even in death, he made sure his disapproval was apparent, and it upset Laura so much. Though her mother died before she met Daphne, the kind-hearted woman never made Laura feel bad for who she was. She’d embraced her with love and support, fighting her father until the stroke claimed her.
Laura reached out and caressed one of the tiny leaves, admiring the small buds poking out of the stem. “I’m sorry, this is one of the best gifts anyone has ever gotten me. And here I am, ruining it with my father.”
Daphne kissed her forehead and stood back up, dragging Laura up with her. Wrapping her arms tight around her, Daphne whispered, “No apology required. After seventeen years together, I understand how much he’s hurt you, and I hate him for it. But, I love you, and I will always love you, regardless of who raised you.”
Laura returned the hug, grabbing her wrists behind Daphne’s lower back. The two women stood there for a few moments, locked in a warm embrace. Finally, Laura broke the connection, stepping back and looking down at her little orchid.
“So, want to help me plant it?” she asked.
“Of course.” Daphne smiled before taking a look around the blossoming garden. “But question, where are you going to plant it?”
Laura followed her gaze, twisting her lips in thought as she admired her handiwork. Butterflies and bees danced among the flowering plants. Deep purples, brilliant reds, sunny yellows and every color between draped across each corner of the yard, spotted with shimmering faerie balls and painted, wooden bird houses. She pointed at the center of the garden, where a delicate marble bird bath with a mermaid holding up the bowl, sat.
“Right there. I think Mom would have liked it.”
Daphne nodded her head in approval, walking over to the shed to grab a couple of shovels. The two women set to work, digging up a hole big enough to transplant the potted tree. The April sun beat down on them, turning a mildly warm afternoon into what felt like blistering heat, but when they patted the last of the dirt in place, they smiled triumphantly at each other.
Daphne slipped her hand into Laura’s, pulling her to her side. Laura laid her head on her wife’s shoulder, and sighed. “Thank you, I can’t tell you how much this means to me.”
“I know.” Daphne kissed the top of her head. “But I had to show you how much you meant to me.”
Laura turned, standing on her toes and kissing the lips of her best friend. Her heart swelled as she felt the compassion and trust returned from her lover. It didn’t matter that her father died hating them or that her mother would never meet Daphne. It didn’t matter that they were both sweaty and covered with dirt. All that did matter was they had the rest of their lives together, just to enjoy each other’s company.