This is a picture of Smarticus during the Vietnam war, writing me a letter. Being out in the field, he couldn't do that as often as he'd like, but I wrote to him multiple times a day, both to help preserve his sanity, and to try to preserve my own. Mail was dropped to the guys from a helicopter, but most of the time, they had to destroy those letters after reading them. They had no place to keep them, and the last thing they needed was additional weight to carry.
Although times have changed, and modern day soldiers have other ways to keep in touch with their loved ones, I believe hand-written letters are still very important. They're life lines. Smarticus and I were already married when he was in Vietnam, but I truly believe it's possible for people who have never met in the world to establish a real relationship through letters. That's the basis for my blogfest offering, which I call The Language of Flowers. I hope you enjoy it.
Ex-sergeant Cullen Smith paused to admire the florist shop window. Just as he expected, the Say it with Flowers graphics were cheerful, welcoming, and a perfect reflection of the owner’s personality. He took a deep steadying breath, and dried his hand on the front of his shirt to get a better grip on his cane. No sense taking any chances. He was getting around like a pro on his new leg now, but he didn't want to risk screwing up her first face-to-face impression of him by falling on his keister. No, not now, not when he was so close. This was the day he'd been dreaming of for months. He was finally going to meet his guardian angel.
The bell above the door jingled merrily to announce his entrance into the shop. He stepped inside and looked around at her dream come true. Nice. Very nice… but where was she? Maybe his mother was right; maybe he should have called first. Maybe he should have warned her.
Then the sweetest-sounding voice he'd ever heard called to him from the back room. “Just a sec! Be right there!”
That was her voice. That was Angelica.
His heart pounded against his ribcage, and then, there she was. Finally. Right there, standing right in front of him. Smiling at him. The first thing he thought was she looked just like the picture she’d sent him, the one he’d carried in Iraq and propped up beside him when answering her letters, and the one he’d found in the pocket of his robe when he finally regained consciousness in the hospital.
No, scratch that. She looked even better in person. No fold marks through her face.
Angelica felt a slight tug of recognition in her soul when she looked at the man with the semi-scruffy beard, but she couldn’t quite place him. She was immediately drawn to his eyes, though. They were an unusual shade of blue-green, and somehow managed to express the depths of both sadness and hope at the same time. Mesmerizing.
“Sorry to keep you waiting,” she said. “How can I help you?”
Cullen hesitated. He should have known this would happen. She obviously didn’t recognize him, but why should she? He barely recognized himself as the clean-shaven, scar-free soldier in the picture displayed on the shelf behind her. With a tenuous smile, he cleared his throat, and said, “I’d like to send flowers to someone to let her know how I feel about her.”
“Terrific! That’s my specialty,” she said, grabbing a scratch pad. “We’ll even include a cheat sheet to interpret the meanings for her. Okay, so what would you like to say?”
“I want her to know I’m her secret admirer.”
“And I want to thank her,” he said. “To express my deepest gratitude. No matter how tough things were, she kept me going.”
“I want to ask her to remember me forever,” he said, looking at her intently. “Just as I’ll always remember her. Her letters kept me alive.”
Angelica’s hand shook slightly as she held it over the pad. “Forget-me-nots,” she whispered, before daring to look at him again. Daring to hope.
“I love her,” he said around a lump in his throat.
“No, your choice, Angelica. The flowers are for you. It’s me. Cullen. I got here as soon as I could.”
She came out from behind the counter with tears flowing freely down her cheeks. “It’s about time,” she said, while wrapping her arms around him.
“Thank you for everything,” he said. “Your letters meant the world to me when I was in Iraq. When I came out of the coma, there was a whole pile waiting for me. You even wrote when I couldn’t answer. How can I ever tell you how much that meant to me? How much you mean to me? Ever since you wrote me the first time, I told you I’d come see you when I got back home. Sorry it took me so long.”
She smiled up at him. “You already told me. With flowers. And if I had some, I’d respond with a sprig of ambrosia.”
“Your love is reciprocated.”
With a silent prayer of thanks, he held her close, rocking her from side to side. He kissed her with an aching sweetness, and said, “Too soon to propose?”
She laughed, and said, “Um, yeah, a little. I think we should go on at least one date first, don’t you? But when we’re ready, I’ll fill the church with birds of paradise for our wedding.”
He raised an eyebrow.She smiled. “Joy,” she said. “They symbolize joy.”
|My joy then...|
Since I'm posting today, I won't be doing a post on Friday, which happens to be Smarticus' birthday. (So I may be busy peeling grapes all day...) Seeya again next week, and every... okay, most... Fridays after that. (Ya never can tell when another blogfest might pop up.)
Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.
If I had a flower for every time I thought of you, I could walk in my garden forever. [Alfred Lord Tennyson]
Love is the flower you've got to let grow. [John Lennon]
Flowers are the music of the ground from earth's lips, spoken without sound. [Edwin Curran]
Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. [Oscar Wilde]