Elyse felt bone-weary, drained like a soggy bowl of corn flakes, yet she couldn't shake the desire to plant that small basket of canna bulbs. They had been sitting neglected all winter, like withered witch fingers. Mama wasn't here to lecture, and Mandy had gone to work at the Dollhouse. Todd and Gary had finally ceased staring balefully as though she were going to disintegrate before their very eyes. They reluctantly decided to put in a normal Saturday of car repair work and headed down to the garage. At last! A snippet of peace all to herself...
Elyse didn't feel quite so nauseous this morning. And her mind had latched onto the thought of the canna bulbs in the garage--cannas brought from the most colorful flower beds in town. Pete and Lorene's cannas. He had brought them on a golden autumn day.
"Elyse, here are those bulbs you wanted. Lorene picked the best colors to send you, and we spent all week thinning the beds. I swear, these things spread like weeds!"
"Are they much trouble to start? I don't have Lorene's green thumb," she quizzed.
He chuckled heartily. "No, they're not hard to start. Throw them out there on the ground, and they'll probably just root by themselves! Just loosen the dirt a little and cover them. Give each one plenty of room, and your yard will be full in no time."
The winter had passed, March arrived with alternate sun and brisk wind, and Elyse was in the middle of this cancer treatment. The thought of the bulbs withering away in her garage was like the dread of her own body wasting away. Somehow, in her depressed state, the anticipation of coaxing the bulbs into life seemed a step toward health and power.
Elyse very slowly pulled on her sweat pants over her boxer short pajamas. She found gardening gloves and a very light shovel in the garage. She took them and the small basket into the back yard. Then she went back into the house and rested.
"No hurry," she told herself. "I can take all week--or two weeks--to get these in. I can plant one bulb at a time. And if they bloom by August, I'll believe that I'm going to get well."
When Mandy came home from helping Becky with orders, she exclaimed, "Mama! Look at you, there's color in your cheeks today. I haven't seen that for 3 weeks. Are you feeling a little better?"
Elyse lounged comfortably in the chair with her cup of tea. "Yup, sweetie, I think I'm going to make it." And though she sat the remainder of the day while they fixed dinner and served her like a queen, she cherished her secret. Elyse could imagine the riotous color of cannas filling the now-barren backyard, shouting in colorful blossoms and foliage, pronouncing triumph and life. She knew Gary would swear at one more obstacle to avoid with the weed-eater, and even that would make her laugh.