Field of Marigolds

August 2, 2012
I remember a long time ago, when we were really small, Brayson and I would walk down to the field and pick flowers. We’d get huge bouquets of them and give them to Mama when she got off of work. Her favorite was marigolds; she said that shade of yellow made her feel happy. Sometimes it was really hard to make her feel happy.

As we got older, Brayson decided that picking flowers was for girls and he moved on to things like baseball and chewing tobacco. I still picked marigolds for Mama though, whenever it was hot after school. Over the years Mama kept getting more and more sad, and working herself harder at the diner in town to pay the bills.

Me and Brayson’s daddy left right after I was born. Mama said he was still a little boy at heart and didn’t have any business raising babies anyway, sounds more like a sperm-donor if you ask me. I saw a picture of him once; in Mama’s junk drawer where she keeps stuff she doesn’t want us to see. It was a picture of the two of them outside of the courthouse after they got married. Mama looked happy, but my father looked scared to death, like he was about to get shot or something. You could see Mama’s stomach starting to swell a little bit; you could see Brayson forming in her fifteen-year-old belly.

Sometimes I wonder where Mama would be now if she hadn’t of gotten pregnant then, or again just a year later. I wonder if she would have been a country singer, she loved singing. She used to sing to me every night, she’d sing Elvis or Patsy Cline. I wonder if she would have gotten filthy rich and never have to worry about a thing. But no…she had us. We were about as good as it was gonna get for her.

But this story isn’t about Mama, or my father. This story is about me, Marti August Lincoln, when I was seventeen. I had dirty blonde hair, down to the bottom of my back and bright blue eyes. I had youth in my eyes then, the kind you could almost see right through, the kind of eyes that dull over time as the world throws bad things your way. I wasn’t at all naïve to the ways of the world. I knew life wasn’t a fairytale, I knew the world was full of bad people, because other than Mama and Brayson, I had never met any good ones. What I didn’t know when I was seventeen, was that at that point I had a very easy life.

I’ll never forget the first time I ever saw them. I walked down to the field after school to pick Mama’s flowers, and there they were. There was a boy and a girl that looked about my age, picking marigolds, picking my marigolds, picking my marigolds in my field. Who did they think they were? I didn’t know, but I was about to.

“What do you think you’re doing?” I loudly asked from a few feet behind them.

“Oh, hello there. I’m Elizabeth, and this is my brother Gabriel. What’s your name?” She looked like an angel everything about her was flawless, even her white dress didn’t have any stains when she stood up from the dirt to shake my hand. And Gabriel…he took my breath away. He had dark hair and even darker eyes. He was tall, and had a face more handsome than any face I’d ever seen in my life. I think I fell in complete love with him the moment I saw him, but I wasn’t about to show it.

“You’re not allowed to pick these.” I said pointing at the marigolds. “This is private property, so you have to leave right now.” The last part wasn’t exactly true, the field didn’t belong to anyone it was just sitting there, all alone and useless.

“Is it your ‘private property’?” The boy asked darkly. He looked angry and bitter, way too angry for his age, but at the same time he had childishness to his face. I wondered what had happened to make him so cold-looking. His sister nudged him softly in his ribs.

“We’re sorry. We were just getting some flowers for our grandmother, well her grave…but it won’t happen again.”

“Sorry ‘bout your grandma. Just don’t come back to this I said its private property.”

“Of course…but if you don’t mind me asking…what are you doing here?” His eyes saw through me, they stood there waiting for me to answer.

“Come back if you want. I don’t care.” For some reason it made me so angry, what gave them the nerve to ask me what I was doing here? I guess what upset me was that they had just as much right to go there as I did. I had started to walk back home, but the boy stopped me.

“You never told us your name.” He ran up beside me. He wasn’t glaring at me like a madman anymore.

“I’m Marti…look I’m sorry I came off like that. I’m not really good with people.” He smiled; I think my heart skipped ten beats. He looked like a movie star, maybe even better.

“That makes two of us then. I’m sorry too. I guess not all of us can be as friendly as my sister all the time.” The way he spoke mesmerized me, every word drew me in a little more. I smiled at him like an idiot for what felt like an eternity. He smiled back. I don’t even know how long we stood there, facing each other, smiling and staring.

We probably would have stood there even longer, but Elizabeth told us to help her find the best flowers. That night after I got home Brayson said it looked like I had been drinking. I was so giggly and girly, like the girls in the movies after a first date.

Months passed, fast and slow at the same time. I went to the field everyday to see Gabriel and Elizabeth. I’d stay there for hours, until it got dark and they had to go back home. I invited them over for dinner or ice-cream almost every day, but they always said “maybe next time.” I just assumed Gabriel didn’t want to meet Brayson; my brother did have a bit of a bad boy reputation after dropping out of school a few years back.

Gabriel and I had fallen so deep into love that I was basically already planning our wedding. Yeah, me; Miss I’m Going To Be Alone Forever Because This World Is Crap, was out of my mind in love. And Gabriel loved me back. We could lay in that field all day just talking, holding each other close.

One day I finally got him to agree to come to my house to meet Brayson and Mama. The plan was for us to meet at the field then go back to the house. I put on my prettiest and only dress and walked to the field. Gabriel wasn’t there yet so I picked a few flowers then sat down and pulled off all the petals saying “He loves me, He loves me not…” The last petal came off on “He loves me.” I smiled to myself. I didn’t know where Gabriel was. I had already waited two hours. Then it started to rain, then it rained a little harder, and I was soaked. I walked home, went to bed, and woke up with a bad cold.

It took me almost a week to get better, and you bet the day I finally got out of bed I walked down to that field with every intention of telling Gabriel off. Even if he couldn’t make it, he couldn’t even have come to make sure I was ok, or apologize? Of course it was too good to be true; he’s just like the rest of them. As I stormed to the field, I prayed he’d be there so I could give him a piece of my mind. There he was.

At first when I saw him, his back was to me and his head was buried in his hands. My confidence faltered a little. My legs became weak and my pace became slow. It hurt me to see him look hurt, to see him look so vulnerable.

“Hey.” I mumbled and plopped down beside him. He didn’t say anything at first; he just sat there, still with his head down. “So what happened to you? You just stood me up, and I hope you have a great explanation because I’ve been sick as a dog for a week.” My voice built itself back up, I was getting angry all over again. To make things worse he still didn’t say a word. “Fine then. Don’t tell me why. As a matter of fact, don’t bother saying anything to me ever again! You left me in the rain, and you don’t even care! You are not who I thought you were, Gabriel, and I don’t like this you all that much at all.” My voice choked up and I got that knot in my throat that meant I was about to cry.

Now I was one of those girls that never cried, no matter what. I didn’t see a point in it. But that day I let out about ten years worth of built up tears, and Gabriel just sat there, and still didn’t say anything.

That’s when I decided to stop making a fool of myself and stood up to leave. I was almost to the road when he grabbed me, pulled me closer, and kissed me. My first kiss, it was soft and sweet, and everything I ever thought it would be. I felt butterflies in my stomach, ones like I’d never felt before. His hands were around my face, even after he pulled away. I stared into his eyes and at that exact second decided that I never wanted another man’s lips to touch mine again, other than Gabriel’s.

“I’m so sorry.” He kept whispering it over and over. He tried to explain how he just couldn’t go to my house, but he couldn’t tell me why. I just accepted it at that. We held each other in the middle of the field. We were closer than ever. We just listened to the sound of the other’s breathing. My biggest regret in life is how I fell asleep to the rhythm of his heartbeat.

The reason that it’s my biggest regret is that when I woke up, he was gone. Our most intimate moments were our very last. I just couldn’t understand where he went, or why he didn’t wake me up to say goodbye. I asked people if they’d heard anything about him or Elizabeth, but people looked at me like I was crazy.

That summer was my last at home. I spent every day in the field. It became my paradise, my getaway. There was nowhere else I wanted to be. It was the place where I thought, and cried, and just relaxed. It was my own little world. I guess it always had been.

One day, I was picking flowers when I found them. “Gabriel Perkins and Elizabeth Perkins. Loving brother and sister, son and daughter, and friends. 1945-1962.” I did some research and twenty years before I met them they had died in a house fire along with their grandmother. I was so confused, and to this day I still am. I didn’t understand why or how they had come into my life. Maybe it was to show me that in a world full of ugly, you can find something beautiful. In a town full of trash, you can find a field of marigolds.

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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

Daesha said...
Aug. 8, 2012 at 7:49 am
 I loved this story. I didn't predict the ending, though. I thought that was very clever and extremely well written.
AshleyMariee replied...
Aug. 13, 2012 at 7:05 pm
Thanks so much!  :)
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