The Thinking of Home Bush – by Taria Karillion (Adult)

“Mr. Takahashi-San? You have a video call from your grandson.”
The old man nodded his thanks and made his way to the monitor by the window, his fingertips gently trailing over a potted, dwarf Azalea beside it. The crimson petals were vivid as a scar, even in the dim moonlight.
“Grandfather! It’s SO good to see you – I miss you! Are you well?”
“I am, thank you, it’s just odd to not need the wheelchair. I miss you all too… my plants keep me busy, though. How are you and your lovely girlfriend?”
“We’re both fine, thanks. Actually, Mei Xing is the reason I’m calling.”
A slow smile blossomed broadly across the old man’s face.
“Ahhh… I think I know what you want to ask. Yes, I still have it, and yes, you may borrow it – it would be an honour.”
The young man blushed and grinned.
“With us being a Japanese/Chinese couple, like you and Grandma were, I thought…”
“You thought – quite rightly – that it would be a respectful gesture. There’s just the issue of how to get it to you safely. Call me sentimental, but I couldn’t leave it behind in Tokyo, so I brought it with me.”
“Ah… I see…” The young man ran his hands over his head and chewed his lip.
Mr. Takahashi glanced outside as a shooting star streaked by, lighting up the little Azalea – its stamens curled like beckoning fingers. Crimson petals, like living silk, the same colour as the Myōjin arches at the Nezu Shrine near his home. But also, the exact same shade as his late wife’s traditional Chinese qipao wedding dress.
“Perhaps…” he spoke softly, “it’s time for us both to come home. I’m sure they’ll manage here without their resident botanist for a few weeks. I’ll arrange for my wheelchair to be brought out of storage.”
The young man gasped.
Origato, Sofu! Thank you! I’m very honoured!”
Outside the window, and far below, the curve of the earth glittered against the backdrop of space. Mr. Takahashi smiled, pushed off from the console and floated back to the Botany station.
Learn more about the contest which inspired this story:  Fleur 2020-05 Azalea
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