Old Lady in a Faded Dress
"Hello, Miss Emma," the children sing as they ride by on their bicycles. "I like your hat," one of them says as he runs his hand along the azaleas growing by the front of the house. I watch red flowers fall to the ground.
"Be careful," I shout back at them, hearing my old lady voice crackle like a Halloween witch. I know they're making fun of me. Why shouldn't they? I'm just an old lady in a faded floral dress and a floppy hat tending to her flowers.
The children, what do they know? What do they care? They're as ripe and full of hope as spring tulips about to open. Me? I'm like the daffodil stems left after the sunny flower is long gone, leaving the drooping stem to litter the garden.
But I flowered once. I had my time. I danced in the wind and the young men fancied after me like butterflies to violets. I gave my sweetness to them and brought joy to the world. Now I offer only faint memories of past summers.
Autumn offers one last chance, one final burst of beauty before the long sleep of winter. I want to shout, like the Crepe Myrtle turning bright yellow in fall: "I'm still here! Look at me! Don't forget me!"
I want to do something grand. Something extraordinary. I long to rip off my old lady clothes and dance naked in the sun, singing songs of love and joy. I want to make a final impression.
how? I'm an old lady in a faded floral dress and floppy hat tending to
her flowers. My time has passed like the pale, spent blooms of the hydrangea.
I had my chance. But I was so taken by my own beauty, I never learned
to complement the other flowers. Only to dominate them. Like a rose in
full bloom, I thought I'd last forever. With my sweet scent and my perfect
blossom, I thought I'd always be the focus of the garden, always attracting
the eye of anyone wandering my way.
I hear the neighbors talk. "It's so sad watching her," they say. "Alone in that big house. At least she has the garden, her flowers."
"But what will she do this winter?" they ask.
What will I do, indeed? When the winds from the North blow cold and the ground freezes solid, will I cover myself in a bed of down like the ones I prepare of leaves and straw for the tender coreopsis and coral bells? Will I again arise, like the crocuses, as the sun thaws the earth to begin the cycle once more? Or will I remain in my downy bed forever to be replaced by other, more hardy souls?
I watch two young lovers walk by, holding hands and smiling as they share secrets. I nod to them, but they see only each other. I snip a rose about to open and offer it to the young woman. She accepts my gift graciously.
"Thank you," she says. "It's so beautiful."
"Watch the thorns, dear," I warn her as I step aside.