He told her he was going hiking to catch a glimpse of September blooms. She knew the route like the back of her hand. Many times, they hiked to the vantage point where the Tatarian maple stood giving shades for resting and ground for play.
She remembered how he laughed at her impractical hiking dress code: sports cap, sundress and hiking boots. In her mischievous mind, she knew that was the perfect outfit. It was proven by all the passionate moments under that tree.
She couldn’t go hiking with him anymore for he was no longer her man, physically, anyway. But both of them knew, they always went hiking together. The moment he took a rest under the Tatarian maple, she was there just like many times before. It was hard to focus on the fresh spring flowers when his nostril was filled with her slightly moist scent from perspiration.
She was having a cup of earl grey on the daybed under the warm sun, taking a break from reading. Her mind wandered to him. She sensed that he was sitting with his back against the trunk of that maple, drinking mineral water. She could see the movement of his Adam’s apple. That’s usually the time she would agilely climb on his lap, lifting, then scattering her sundress for cover. He would never refused her, always gave her every ounce of himself in exchange of watching the satisfaction on her face while she parading over him like a peacock.
Sometimes, they wished their connection was broken when they parted ways. And some times, they secretly, earnestly gravitated towards each other, specially in Spring, a season of everything grows.
He escapes from the everyday reality to immerse himself in aged books. The fragrance between the crispy vintage pages infuses his nostril like April blooms. He imagines someone is reading one of his poems under a flaming Japanese maple bathed in Autumn glory.
She shies away from the crowded room and retreats into the oversized recliner in the studies, letting the scent of old poetry books calm her mind. Her delicate fingers dance with each stanza in rhythms only Braille can play so fluidly. She wonders how his hand moved when he composed all those crests and troughs so pleasing to her heart.
She escaped from the heated discussion
into the pool of quiet and calm water.
This was the only place in the house
where crying kids couldn’t find her,
hungry pets left her alone,
aggressive personality didn’t faze her
on that 5°c winter night.
There was always safety in our father’s presence. The memory of him rafting with me and my younger brother out on the Balmoral water in early Autumn is still vivid in my mind today, the same as the cold winter day we buried our mother.
We have never felt neglected by our widow father. And he has never made us feel any guilt although we ran around like mad monkeys in our family home where our mother spent her last weeks.
Now I am sitting by his bed as a grown woman with my own family, listening to him telling incoherent stories of the past. Maybe to him, this is the way he is coping with the open floodgate of emotions which have been bottled up for so long.