Violet dreaded this day. It was Wednesday and the angel kids were to spend the afternoon with her.
It was not that she didn’t want to see the angel kids—of course, she did. She adored them!—but she knew they would be constantly asking about Victor and why he wasn’t there. She didn’t like seeing all those sad faces. They only served to drag her down with them and the kids weren’t exactly cooperative nor eager to play in the garden on these Victor-less days. That made her work actually work, instead of fun, fun which she didn’t even pretend was work anymore.
To her astonishment, however, not one of them—not even Peter—asked her about Victor. This she found odd indeed, until Kelly started giggling for no apparent reason.
“What's so funny, Kelly?” Violet asked, as she helped Carmencita dig a hole for her seedling.
“Just something Victor sent me in the mail. Now that he's away for a while, he sends us stuff. Like yesterday he sent us yummy muffins in a basket and today I got a card. I dunno what mine means, but I think it’s funny,” she replied, pulling a card out of her pocket and handing it to Violet. “Do you know what it means?”
Violet opened the card and read it, a slow smile coming to her and then she giggled as well. “It’s from a song,” she said.
“Can you sing it to me?” Kelly said eagerly.
“Um…let me see, "Violet said, thinking. "…♪ ♫…Oh, it’s there in my eyes and coming straight from my heart, it’s running silent and angry and deep, oh, it’s there in my eyes and it’s all I can say, come on and look at me and read ‘em and weep…♩ ♬ I like that song."
Kelly smiled, but then looked puzzled. “But what does it mean?”
“Um…well, I don’t know,” Violet said, giving the card back. “Maybe something about it reminded him of you.”
“I like it when you sing it. I wonder if all of them are songs,” Kelly said.
“All of them?” Violet asked.
“We all got cards with what we thought were cryptic messages, but if they’re songs…” Claire said, pulling her own card out of a pocket and looking at it again. “Ms. Violet, tell me if this is a song, okay? The moment I met you, I swear…”
“♪ ♫…I felt as if something, somewhere, had happened to me, which I couldn’t see, and then the moment I met you again, I knew in my heart that we were friends, it had to be so, it couldn’t be no …♩ ♬ The song is called Oh, Claire. It’s about you!” Violet said, laughing at her stunned face.
“Wow!” Claire said, in awe. “That is so cool!”
Each kid in turn shoved their card at Violet hoping she knew the song to which their quote belonged. Oddly enough, she knew them all and several rows of veggies were happily planted while she sang each and every song, a few of them more than once.
“My song is the best,” Maria said and she started singing it herself. “♪ ♫…Take a letter, Maria, address it to me wife, say I won’t be coming home, gotta start a new life …♩ ♬. It’s awesome!”
“My Billy the kid song is ten times better than that!” Billy shouted.
“Well, there was no way Mr. Victor was gonna find a song with my name,” Joaquin said with a shrug and smirk. “But Julio is close enough and it sounds like a cool song.”
Violet laughed. "I think my favorite is Carmencita's song. ♪ ♫…sing tarry-o-day, sing autumn to may♪ ♫…My mother used to sing it to me when I was a little kid. Used to love it," she said, her mind drifting to years gone by.
She quickly stopped daydreaming when Peter came to her, his card in hand.
“My song don’t have my name in it,” Peter said sadly.
“Oh, not everybody got songs with their names. I don’t know any songs with Peter in them, Honey. I’ll bet Victor tried, but he did find a nice message. He’ll be right here waiting for you. That’s nice, isn’t it?” Violet explained.
Peter nodded. “I still miss him. Hope he comes back soon,” he said, walking away with his card clutched in his fist.
Violet had thought she would like that, too. To her astonishment, that wasn’t the case. She found that she tolerated Victor’s absence remarkably well this past week and although she was rather surprised that he did not keep his promise of a phone call now and then, she was even okay with that. More than okay, it was nothing short of a relief.
Every night since his departure from Catalpa Valley after their curious dinner date at the Mount Claire—a night and conversation which only now ceased to haunt her--she had come home with a heavy weight on her heart, one she couldn’t quite understand and didn't get rid of until she found herself smiling as she snuggled under her quilt, her thoughts not on Victor, but instead on Richard.
She didn’t know why it was, but she now felt Richard’s presence, really, truly felt it, as if he was right there beside her. She could even imagine him talking to her. It was such a lovely, comforting feeling. She didn’t want it to end. For whatever reason, she thought talking to Victor would shatter that.
But Victor hadn’t called and Violet enjoyed her alone time with wonderful memories of Richard. She needed them now more than ever. The anniversary of his death was coming soon. Freddy had come to her house to remind her—as if she needed reminding! But he also told her of the gazebo the township was dedicating to Richard’s memory.
“Goodness! I thought they were just thinking about it. I didn’t think they would actually do it, not so soon,” Violet said.
“They received the funding for it and got to doing it right away. I was hoping you would be there for it,” Freddy said, taking a huge bite out of yet another cookie straight off the cookie sheet.
“Of course, I will,” she said scooping up several already cooled cookies and placing them in a large plastic container for Freddy to take home for the kids. She only could hope half of them made it home for them!
“I thought…it’ll be tough for you, all of us, but especially you,” Freddy said, putting his arms around her and holding tightly. “I still miss him so much, you know.”
“Hard to lose a best buddy. Richard was your pal longer than he was my husband,” she said, placing a hand on his cheek. “I’ll be fine. Is there anything I need to do?”
He shook his head. “I want some pretty flowers planted around the gazebo, but I didn’t know what to tell the nursery. They’ll plant them for us, I just gotta buy the plants. What are Richard’s favorites?”
Violet waves a dismissive hand and pushed away from her brother. “You don’t have to do that, Freddy. I have loads of plants here and I know I can get some others from Weston, too. I’ll do the planting myself.”
“I want to, Freddy. I need to, okay?” she said shoving the tub of cookies at him. “Now make sure you leave some for the kids.”
“The dedication is in three weeks. Let me know if you need help,” he said and with a parting kiss on the cheek, he was gone.
“No, I won’t need help,” Violet whispered, watching Freddy get into his car and out of the driveway. “I’m not alone anymore.”
Richard smiled and placed his hands on her shoulders. “Got that right, babe,” he said.