Violet gaped at Victor and blinked several times. The image of Richard superimposed itself on Victor for a split second then went back to normal. Had she imagined it?
“Violet? Are you all right?” Victor asked, his hand still held out to her.
“Yes, yes, I’m fine,” she said placing her hand in his and standing up. “I always loved picking wildflowers.”
She suddenly blushed. When Richard used to suggest picking wildflowers, he never actually meant picking wildflowers. Violet’s memory went back to the very first time she and Richard…
Oh, she remembered it as if it happened two minutes ago! She was seventeen and they were so in love. Freddy had helped her sneak out of the house without their father being aware. Richard had taken her to Somerset Hill for a very special day. He placed an old woolen olive-drab Army blanket on the ground behind the large clump of fragrant white lilacs and knelt down on it. He reached for her hand and when she knelt beside him he showed her the ring.
“This isn’t much, Violet,” Richard told her, slipping the tiny heart shaped ruby onto her finger. “But I promise to love you forever. I don’t ever want any other girl. This is me begging you to marry me. I’ll be good to you despite what your dad says. I swear it.”
Her eyes welled with tears, but she smiled and nodded. Then he kissed her and...
She could still smell the lilacs in bloom mingling with the fragrant sweet grass and Richard’s ivory soap clean scent. She remembered the feel of the scratchy wool on her bare skin, his rough hands caressing her soft curves, the sound of the breeze through the leaves of the weeping willow which stood sentinel beside the stream, but mostly she remembered the love shining from Richard’s bright blue eyes as he gazed into hers.
“Violet? Did you not hear me?” Victor said, intruding into her thoughts.
“What?” she said, forcefully coming back to the present, but looking anywhere but at him.
“Violet, are you okay?” Victor asked.
“Yes, of course I am. What were you saying?” she asked. She couldn’t exactly tell Victor what she had been thinking of just a minute ago!
“Oh, I think he’d rather enjoy the story,” Heidi said. “He craves to hear about the love of your life. They would have been such good friends.”
Violet might have agreed with that, but it was entirely too personal and something strictly between Richard and herself. No one else knew of it and no one ever would.
Victor stared at her in surprise. She was obviously flustered and her thoughts of a minute ago were a million miles away. What could it have been?
“I’ll bet you know the names of all these wildflowers, don’t you?” he said, albeit casually as he led the way into the field of knee-high grass. That did it! She was her old self almost instantly.
“Of course. You must know some, too,” Violet said plucking a white flower and showing it to him.
“Daisy, right?” he said.
She smiled. “You’re not so dumb after all. See, this is a Black-eyed Susan. Know why It’s called that?” She moved her finger over the large protruding dark center. “That’s her black eye.”
Victor laughed and nodded. He listened to her prattle on about all the flowers, telling him their various characteristics and how to tell one from the other. Although most of it went right over his head, he continued to listen. He laughed at himself knowing full well he would listen just as attentively were she reading the phone book. Her voice was like angelic music, simultaneously intoxicating, entertaining and comforting. He used to think the same of his mother’s voice. How odd!
“Here’s something I never told anyone,” she said plucking a small pink flower growing out of the tall grass. “I call this a meadow pink, but I have no idea what its real name is.”
“You don’t?” he said in surprise.
She shook her head. “I suppose I could find out with a good wildflower book, but where’s the fun in that? I kind of like naming something.”
He laughed. “Indeed!”
“Now this you have to know,” she said holding up a pretty lace-cap sort of flower.
“Sorry, no clue,” he said taking a sniff and frowning when he found no scent.
“Hmm, that’s not where you’ll find a fragrance.” She then bent down and tugged a whole plant out with the long cream colored root intact. “Smell that.”
He did as told and stared at her in surprise. “Wild carrot?”
“Yes! But we like to call it Queen Anne’s Lace. It’s actually edible when very young and I always hope the rabbits will go after them instead of my own carrots, but they never do, the little buggers!”
He laughed again.
“Know what else I found out recently about Queen Anne’s Lace?” she said excitedly.
“I couldn’t begin to imagine,” he said.
“The seeds were used as birth control back, you know, a million years ago. Can you believe that?”
“Cool,” he said looking at the flower and placing it with the others she had picked. “It’s pretty.”
“One of my favorites.”
“Did you ever try it? As a birth control, I mean,” he said.
“We never used…” She blushed suddenly and her thoughts went back to Richard and that fateful day.
“Neither one of us have ever done this before, so we really don’t know what we’re doing,” Richard said, laughing. “It’s not very likely you’ll get pregnant the first time. I think it’ll be okay, but if you don’t want to, it’s okay. We’ve got time.”
But they didn’t have time, not really. Her father was sending her off to college in a few months and she knew so many girls in town wanted to take her place. Would Richard be there waiting for her? Not likely! So she believed him and hoped he was right, and that had been a mistake…sort of.
“Huh?” she said coming back to the wildflower field with a start.
“You went off to Mars again,” Victor said. “Mind telling me what you were thinking about?”
“Uh…this is called blue eyed grass, which is a really silly name if you ask me,” she said quickly, stooping down to pick a tiny blue flower with a pale yellow center. “And this one, well, you’ll never guess what they call this one. Pussy toes. Isn’t that funny?”
He stared at her taking the flowers as she handed them to him. “Why do you suppose they are called that?” he asked, not at all curious, but hoping to distract her. Again, it worked and he took that opportunity to think.
What could it be that was affecting her so? He suspected she only had told him a fraction of the memories Somerset hill held, so what hadn’t she told him? What would make her flustered and drift away so far?
“Come on,” Richard said. “I think you can take a wild guess what went on here between two teenagers in love for the very first time.”
A light bulb lit in Victor’s head. He looked around and saw the perfect spot for a young lovers’ rendezvous away from prying eyes. Right beside the stream behind the large lilac bush and under the weeping branches of the large willow. A perfect romantic spot. He looked back to Violet and could imagine her still in high school with her first and only boyfriend, so lost in love, losing her innocence and gaining a life-long love.
He smiled, though sadly. Oh, but to have such wonderful memories like that of his own…with Violet.
“Hang on, Cowboy,” Richard said. “You’ll get your shot soon enough.”