May, The Previous Year…
“Have you completely lost your mind?” Dan hollered out the back door.
“Not completely!” Millie shielded her eyes against the sun and looked up at him from where she knelt in the small yard behind the hardware store. With a trowel clutched in one hand and sweat glistening on her brow, she had the beginning of a lopsided circle dug out of the thin grass in front of her.
“You do know we sell real shovels, right?”
She looked down at the trowel in her hand then smiled up at him. “I know.”
“We’ve got an entire aisle full of them.”
He stepped out of the doorway and down the steps. “What are you doing anyway?”
“What does it look like I’m doing?”
Dan pointed to the rosebush in a Meyer’s Nursery pot sitting on the ground next to Millie. “I hope you’re not planning on planting that thing there.”
“What’s it to you?”
“For one thing, it looks dead already.”
“That’s why I bought it.” Millie popped to her feet and wrapped her arms around Dan’s waist. He stooped slightly, meeting her halfway so they stood nose-to-nose. “It was headed for the compost pile when I saved it.”
“Saved it?” Dan eyed the mutilated grass and her sorry attempt at a hole in the ground. “Maybe you should’ve let it die with dignity.”
She lightly bopped his nose with a dirt smudged finger. “Boo you.”
“I hope Gina didn’t charge you for it.”
“Just a couple bucks.”
“Your mother saw a sucker.”
“You say that now, but just you wait until it blooms. Then you’ll be bragging to your buddies what a genius I am.”
“You seriously think that dried up twig is going to bloom?” Dan bent to pick up the nursery pot, but Millie swatted his hand away.
“Keep your grubby paws off my rosebush!” She scooped up the pot and cradled it to her chest. “Unless, of course, you’re going to help me plant it.”
Dan let out a laugh.
“You know, if you’re really nice to me, I might even let you dig the hole.” She wiggled her eyebrows seductively.
“Not a chance in hell. This one’s all you.”
Dan slapped her bottom and headed toward the back door. He loved his wife dearly, and usually she could do anything she set her mind to, but if there was one thing she did not possess, it was a green thumb. Millie’s mother, Gina, owned a small nursery and was a certified master gardener, but poor Millie had the blackest thumb of anyone he knew. She could kill a plastic palm tree. He wanted absolutely nothing to do with her dead rosebush. Knowing Millie, if he helped her plant it and it didn’t miraculously come back to life it would be his fault, and he’d never hear the end of it.
He turned back around and asked, “What color is it going to bloom, anyway?”
“I don’t know for sure.” She searched the pot for a tag. “I guess it’ll be a surprise. Probably pink or yellow, but orange would be really cool.”
She grinned. “Absolutely!”
“Is there even such a thing as an orange rose?”
“Sure?” she answered with a shrug.
“I’ll be surprised if it turns green, let alone blooms.”
“Just you watch, Danny-Boy. I guarantee you this rose will bloom, and when it does you will be amazed!”