Emil pulls off his gloves, wipes his arm across his forehead, resettles the ball cap on his head. “Time for a hydration break. Would you have a moment to join me?” he asks Allison.
She nods. He washes the soil from his hands under the hose bib and then motions her to a little garden bench. “I’ll be right there.”
Allison sits and takes in the view of Jeeves’ garden from the bench. The first impression of wild messiness gives way to a subtle rhythm of shape and color. There is a method here. Allison dislikes the word “curated;” but she sees the evidence of human decisions: placements, groupings, levels.
“Here you are,” Emil says, handing Allison a glass of water. The glass itself is thick and irregular, with a rim of cobalt blue. The water inside is cold, delicious.
He sits next to her on the bench; she shifts a little to make room, though their arms touch. Allison wants to ask so many questions: about the garden, the plants, the rocks, and about Emil. “It’s such a lovely place,” she manages. “I’m so curious about it all.”
“You asked how Miss Jeeves and I know one another,” Emil says, as if the conversation they started days ago has not been interrupted. “My mother, she grew up with Miss Jeeves. They were close. Until they weren’t.” He sips water from his glass. “It is terribly sad when people stop being friends. When families come apart. I do not understand it. My own father, he has not been in my life forever. I always wonder, why? What could take a father so far from his son?”
This moment of intimacy surprises Allison; more surprising is how comfortable it feels. She thinks of her own father, who, despite his limitations, never fled the family completely.
“I can’t imagine,” she says.
The sun comes around the corner of the house, warming them almost instantly, causing the flowers to nod gently toward the light.