Elspeth leaned against the door frame, a mug of coffee in her hand, watching as Jared worked in the garden. He had been there most of the day, digging over the old flower beds that went round the outside of the garden. And now he was working on the raised bed in the centre of the garden.
They had exactly two days before he left for a year long tour in the war zone. Two days and he’d wasted one of them gardening. She let out a small sigh and looked at him. His shirt was stained with sweat, his sleeves rolled up, dirt on his hands and arms. “Jared,” she called.
Jared dug and planted the bulbs. He needed this done so Elspeth wouldn’t need to worry about the garden for the next year other than occasionally mowing the lawn. He also wanted to check the fuse box and make sure there were enough spare fuses and light bulbs. This was a pointless exercise as he knew she was more than capable of changing a fuse or a light bulb, but he wasn’t going to be here.
He knew it was part of the job and, as much as he was looking forward to his overseas tour of duty, he was dreading being away from the most important person in his life. He’d already bought her Christmas present. He’d wrapped and hidden it knowing she’d never find it. He’d email her and tell her where to look nearer the time. He looked up as he heard her call his name. “Hey, hon,” he smiled.
“Made you some coffee.” She held out the cup seeing the dirt streaks on his face.
He got to his feet and brushed his hands on his trouser legs. He moved over to her and took the cup, leaning into kiss her. “Thanks, hon. What would I do without you?”
“Hmmm… make your own coffee perhaps?”
He took a long drink. “But you do it so much better.”
Elspeth pulled a face at him. “You’d better get used to making your own coffee. Or does someone make it for you?”
“Make my own unless it’s from the mess,” he said slowly. He looked at her. “How are you doing, love?”
She shrugged. “Most of your stuff is clean and ironed. Your dress uniform is back from the cleaners. Your kit bag is in the cupboard under the stairs.”
“You’ve been busy.”
“It was either that or do nothing,” she said quietly. She turned to go back inside. “Dinner will be about an hour.”
Jared nodded. “Okay. I’m almost done, losing the light here soon anyway.” He watched as her stance seemed to stiffen slightly and then she turned and went inside. He wondered what he had done to upset her but finished his coffee and then went back to the planting. He wouldn’t see the finished result but hoped it would turn out as he wanted and that she’d like it.
Six months later, she pulled back the bedroom curtains and noticed that the garden was finally starting to come to life. It had been a long hard winter.
It was another three weeks, in early March, before she noticed the flowers finally come out. But it wasn’t until she pulled the bedroom curtains and looked down on the raised bed that she saw it. Her eyes filled with tears that ran unchecked down her face. He’d planted the flowers in such a way that they spelled out three words. I Love You.
Tels Merrick is married with three children. She lives in the UK and writes fiction.