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Story from Debbie

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Bright Flowers

By Debbie Stanton

Benjamin Broadley crouched at his wife Mandi’s tombstone. He carefully watered the extensive garden he’d been given permission to plant there.  Planting the garden was Ben’s last “big gesture” for his wife, as Mandi had loved flowers. She loved the large flowers and if they were bright, too, all the better.

The crabapple tree near the tombstone always comforted Benjamin. Now that spring was here and the tree was in full blossom, it was almost like a benediction of peace for him. The sea was a strange location for the cemetery, but the quiet waves lapping on the shore didn’t mind.

 He and Mandi had done all the right things like writing wills, planning their funerals, and even buying cemetery plots. However, they’d never thought either of them would be placed there at such a young age. He guessed it was good they’d been prepared, as prepared as a person could get before the actual situation happened.

Sheer stupidity is what the townspeople thought about the Broadleys’ actions. They should’ve gotten out and enjoyed life instead of being so careful about the end of their lives. Benjamin and Mandi were almost ready to agree with the people when Mandi met her untimely demise.

Mandi had befriended a person dressed in a military uniform. She had no idea that the person was a bomber just trying to escape the feds. A few tears escaped Benjamin’s eyes now as he thought about the last year.

Benjamin drove home then and double-checked everything he’d packed for his excursion to a nearby island. He’d arranged for his buddies, Roger and Matt, to take him on their sailboat. The threesome would stay overnight on the island in the tent they planned on pitching.

With Roger and Matt along, Benjamin didn’t have to bring any tools—not that he’d know how to use them anyway. He sure needed this little break and hoped it would help him with his grief.

The men boarded the sailboat, and the ocean remained uncharacteristically quiet. Benjamin and his buddies sailed for miles and headed back into a beautiful purple and pink sunset.

Then Mother Nature laughed at them, and they were caught in a storm. A storm at sea was a scary thing, and Benjamin hoped and prayed they’d make it to shelter. He amended his prayer and hoped they found an island very soon—like right now. Sigh.

The sailboat rose and fell on the water and crashed into the mighty swells. Though there had been a tiny bit of light left in the sky, now they couldn’t see where they were going.

Even as he helped with the sailboat, Benjamin thought about Mandi again. I’m coming to meet you soon, honey, he said to himself.

The boat bumped into something and jostled its passengers.

“We made it! Or at least, we hit land!” Matt screamed in delight.

The men made quick work of pitching a tent and getting settled for the night, if one could feel settled in the storm still raging.

The next morning’s sunrise made them sigh in relief. However, nothing looked familiar. How disappointing to think they were safe when they really weren’t just yet.

Benjamin hurried back to the tent and dug in his duffel bag for the binoculars.

“Never fear,” he ran to his buddies at the water’s edge. He put the glasses up to his eyes and made a slow sweep of their surroundings.

“Oh! I see a tree!” Benjamin said with excitement. “And it’s this really tall crabapple. Must be a hundred years old.” He handed the binoculars to Matt so he could see, too.

“How do you know it’s a crabapple tree?” Roger said.

Now the light dawned in Benjamin’s reasoning. “It looks like the one near Mandi’s grave. And Mandi’s garden should be right next to it.”

Matt shoved the binoculars into Benjamin’s hands. He quickly looked for the bright flowers and knew. He knew it wasn’t time to see Sandi yet.

Sandi’s love for him and for bright flowers had saved the day.

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