“When I die, please don’t let there be any gardenias at my funeral,” she said, staring blankly out the car window.
All the lights in the history of time reflected in the wet street as the caravan of shiny black Town Cars crawled through Manhattan at dusk. The blurry symphony of color barely registered. Any other time and she’d be reaching for her iPhone to snap a few photos of the interesting reflections – maybe post them on Instagram.
“Hmmm… What? Sweetie, did you say something?” came his response a full minute later.
“Also please don’t let me die during the winter. Winter is already too hard. Winter sucks! Summer is when I want to die. Lots of sunshine. Or spring, maybe. Yes, spring. A nice, sunny spring day. Or….” her voice cracked. “…DAMN IT! There isn’t a good time of year to bury your best friend, is there? I couldn’t breathe,” she whispered.
He reached across the expanse of the cold leather seat and took her hand. “I’m sorry,” he said, rubbing his thumb across the tops of her fingers. “Yes, winter sucks.”
She turned to face him, pulled her hand from his in order to adjust her weight. The scooch of her pleather skirt against the leather seat produced a noise remarkably similar to the sound that often emanated from their Great Dane.
She gave him the look.
Her eyes landed in the deep pools of his brown eyes. Comfort. Too soon. Her focus shifted to the sidewalk outside the far window. Umbrellas. Legs. Boots. Life marching on.
“I’m serious! No gardenias, PLEASE! I thought I would suffocate. I know you can’t do anything about the sunshine part, but promise me – no gardenias at my funeral!”
“Ok Hotrod, no gardenias. Scout’s honor.”
She brought her attention back to find the first three fingers of his right hand perched at his temple. Eye twinkle. Lip curve. His promises are good. This I know. In response, she gave him the best smile she could conjure. Crooked. Close mouthed. Wrong. She felt the fissure in her heart again. Heat. Fear. Anger. Pressure. She swallowed hard.
“Whatever. Ok. I don’t know. Just not too much of one thing, ok? And more greenery. Lots of plants.” She talked quickly. Words holding back the tide. Holding up the sky. Keeping the earth on its axis. “…just the right amount of things….of everything. I want just the right amount of everything. Ok? And the music. The music has to be perfect and….. The music WAS perf……”
“The music was perfect,” he agreed, through his own tears.
Head buried in his lap, the dam broke. The sky fell. The earth flew off its axis.