They looked up like small bright faces offering hope and promise but she quickly turned and walked away. No! Not again. She’d given him too many chances; the sunflowers belonged in the compost heap.
He’d bought roses when she found out about his affair with a work colleague. He was contrite, begged her forgiveness and promised it would never happen again. She blamed herself; consumed by her problems at work she must have neglected him. She forgave although never enjoyed the scent of roses as she had before.
Life returned to normal, until she discovered he’d been seeing her best friend for several months. Again she blamed herself; trying for a baby and the disappointments each month took their toll. She was more focused on becoming pregnant than in nurturing their relationship. He needed to know he was just as important as a baby. He gave her chrysanthemums.
One year later, she arrived home early after visiting her doctor who offered new hope in their quest to have a family. She raced inside to find him in their bed with their neighbour.
Their neighbour scurried out the back door after hastily donning her clothes, through the gate that once seemed convenient. He touted his usual excuses; she slept in the spare room and didn’t come out until he’d left for work.
He arrived home proffering the huge bunch of sunflowers. She pointed to his suitcases, packed and ready.
Winter. Cold. Barren. Sometimes on the bitter nights, in the spare room for she couldn’t face their former bedroom, her phone would ring. She recognised the number but hid it under her pillow to silence it.
Spring. Warm sun, gentle rain. Blossom swelled on trees, birds built nests. Her heavy heart lifted, just a little.
One summer afternoon she took her vegetable peelings down to the compost heap, staring in amazement at the sight and the smiling face that appeared over the fence.
“Hi! I’m Jed, your new neighbour. Hey…looks like your old sunflowers dropped seeds and sprouted. They’ll look great peeping over the fence.”
And they did.