“Have you watched him?” Kelly smiled as she pointed toward Edward.
“No.” Kelly admitted. “I’ve never been here with him.”
The two walked through the Camellia garden, taking their time, drinking in the colors and shapes of the Camellia blossoms filling the trees. “You should watch him.”
Cynthia watched Edward walk among the trees, with his camera. Edward stopped often and took another picture of another Camellia bloom. Sometimes, he took a dozen pictures of booms on a single tree. Sometimes, he took a dozen pictures of a single bloom. “What am I supposed to see?”
Him? She saw him five times a week at work. She talked with him, ate lunch with him, swapped birthday cards with him. Edward was her friend from work.
They followed Edward through the trees, keeping him in sight as he moved from tree to tree. He moved in circles, and zig zag lines. He stopped at a tree, took pictures, then looked around, spotted another tree, and made his way to it.
Cynthia checked the time on her watch. Twenty minutes of walking from tree to tree. “What is he doing?”
Kelly giggled. “He’s remembering.”
Kelly didn’t answer. Cynthia shook her head. Twenty minutes staring at trees. Taking pictures with no rhyme, no reason. He had plenty of pictures. How many pictures could he take of Camellia trees and their flowers?
“He has thousands of pictures of Camellia blooms.”
Kelly’s smile was a relaxed, happy smile. “And he still takes more.” She watched Edward moving around a specific bloom, trying to hold his camera to take the best shot, with the best framing and background. “Don’t you wonder why?”
“It’s a waste of time.”
Cynthia wanted to scream, “Yes! I have things to do! Places to go! A life to live! Deadlines, and commitments. I can’t be here, wasting time, wandering through a bunch of trees, looking at stupid flowers!”
“Why is it a waste of time?”
“What?” Surely, Kelly knew she’d asked a stupid question.
“Why is it a waste of time?” Kelly’s grin told Cynthia she knew everything, every reason taking pictures of flowers was silly, and a waste of time.
“So tell me.”
Cynthia took a deep breath and shook her head. “It’s his day off. He’s got things to do. A home to take care of. Laundry to wash. Dishes to wash. A lawn to mow. His family to take care of. Groceries to buy.”
“Yes. He does.”
“He doesn’t have time to wander around, taking stupid pictures.”
“Watch him.” Kelly resumed watching Edward, her eyes alive with color, and light, as if seeing something beautiful, something special. Cynthia had seen that look, she knew what it meant.
“What are you watching?”
She watched Kelly, as Kelly watched Edward. She realized Kelly was stopping at the same trees Edward stopped at, looking at the same Camellia blooms he looked at, watching him to see where he went, what he looked at.
“He always finds the prettiest blooms.”
Cynthia looked at the Camellia blooms too. Pink, red, white, and variegated, pink and red, pink and white, red and white. All of them different. Some just starting to open. Others in full bloom. Bright green leaves, others dark forest green, others almost pastel green, dark green, almost black veins laced through them.
The petals of the booms weren’t solid colors. Some looked like velvet. Others were like the leaves, veins of color laced through them. Pink with pink veins. Red with black veins. White with white.
She found herself carefully examining Camellia blooms. Their colors, their textures, their shapes. She found her eyes drinking in their colors, trying to burn them into her memory, so she could see them when she closed her eyes. So she could dream of them at night.
Cynthia watched Edward move from tree to tree, “He doesn’t care about the pictures, does he.”
“He doesn’t.” Kelly smiled, closed her eyes, and took a deep breath.
“He’s not here to take pictures.”
Kelly didn’t answer, moving to another of the Camellia blooms Edward has stopped at. Cynthia joined her, the two of them drinking in the sights Edward lead them too. Cynthia forgot about time. About responsibilities. About everything.
“Do you understand?”
Cynthia felt lighter. Less encumbered. Less trapped. She closed her eyes, and had to smile. “I want to look at more flowers.”
“Tell Edward.” Kelly pushed her toward Edward. “He’s been here dozens of times. He knows where all the flowers are. When they bloom. When they peak. When to find them.”
“I can’t. I don’t want to bother him.”
Kelly giggled again. She marched up to Edward. “Cynthia wants to see more flowers.”
Edward grinned, nodded, and off he went. They followed him, through the camellias, to a paved path to another part of the garden filled with Azaleas in full bloom.
He smiled at Kelly. “Will this do?”
All she could do was nod.
“You’re welcome,” and he smiled. She’d never seen his eyes so alive. She watched him walk through the Azaleas, many so filled with color, and with blooms, she couldn’t even see their leaves. Some towered over her. Some were tiny bushes, barely knee-high. Some lined walkways with walls of color. Pink, red, almost orange, white, and even blue with white middles. Oceans of blooms.
“I told you to watch him.”
“Do you know why?”
“He remembers, doesn’t he.”
“He remembers what life is.”
Kelly drank in the colors and fragrances of the Azaleas. “Yes, he does. And every time he comes here, it brings him back to life.”
Cynthia couldn’t argue with her. Just by watching Edward, she’d felt her heart and soul wake up from the sleep she put them in each day when she became a responsible grown up.
“Shut up, Kelly. I have Azaleas to look at.”
They both laughed.