10: Greenhouse

The Twilight Twenty-Five
Prompt: #11/Greenhouse

000ooo000ooo Fire and Rain ooo000ooo000

A week later, Angela called to offer me the job. She sounded almost as excited about it as I was.

“No one wants to move to Forks. We get a lot of brand new teachers who stay for a year or two, and then they move to a bigger city.” She sighed into the phone. “I don’t think you’ll be like that. I think you’ll be here with us for a while.”

“You’re not from Forks, though, are you?” I asked, confused about where her Forks love came from and not wanting to admit that my future still seemed like a giant black hole looming in front of me. I took things one day at a time, just like Rose and I had discussed.

“Oh! My parents are Forkys. My dad is a pastor, and he got transferred to the Lutheran church here while I was in college. So when I graduated and was looking for jobs I applied at a bunch of places near here to be close to them. Forks High School offered me a job right away, and here I am.”

She was so happy. Sort of like Alice, but without the manic energy. I liked it. I felt like she could cheer me up if I needed it.

“Anyway, we did your reference checks and all, but you’ll need to get your picture taken for your badge…” She chattered on about in-service days and meeting the first teacher who I would be replacing; her baby was apparently due five weeks after school started and we would both begin the year in the classroom. “…and I think that’s about it. I’m looking forward to working with you. Let me give you my cell phone number in case you have any questions.”

She rattled off the number and I scratched it down along with the dates and notes I’d made for myself while she spoke. We got off the phone and I looked up at an anxious Alice, who stood in front of me with her hands clasped together eyes wide.

I wanted to laugh at her nervousness. She’d spent the last five minutes listening to my side of the phone conversation that clearly indicated that I’d gotten the job, but she stood there waiting for me to come out and say it.

“I got the job!”

“Oh my god! Yay! This is so exciting! We need to go shopping for school clothes and teacher supplies and… what all do teachers need? Red pens! You need red pens and Crayons-”

“Wait! I’ll be teaching high school english to start, they don’t need Crayons.” I grinned up at her, glad that she was there to share the excitement with. “I’ll need red pens though, for sure.”

“And clothes, don’t forget clothes. Let’s call Kate and have her meet us in Port Angeles tomorrow!”

I nodded and Alice leaned down to give me a hug. I loved that she didn’t even suggest a shopping trip to Seattle. We’d talked about my plans with Garrett to do all kinds of sightseeing together, and she knew I wasn’t ready to spend much time in the city yet.

000ooo000ooo Fire and Rain ooo000ooo000

The following afternoon we returned from shopping with the car full of clothing and school supplies that Alice insisted I needed. The grass was freshly mowed and Edward’s Volvo was in the driveway, the trunk and both back doors wide open. When I parked and stepped out of the car I saw him, bent over the flowerbed in front of the house.

“Edward?” I called as Alice and I walked towards the house.

He stood and faced us, wiping his hand on already dirty jeans and smiled, apparently unaware of the smudges of dirt on his forehead and cheeks. His eyes took in our JC Penney and Wal-Mart bags.

“Ladies, looks like you had a successful trip to Port A.”

“We did!” Alice told him enthusiastically. “We went shopping for school supplies. I should have asked if you needed anything. Do principals need red pens?”

He couldn’t contain his laughter. “No, the board prefer budget reports and discipline plans to be written in blue or black ink.”

“Oh, that makes sense.” She laughed and started towards the door. “Are you staying for dinner, Edward?”

“I don’t want to intrude.” He looked down, wiping some dirt from his shirt then using the corner of his sleeve to wipe his face. “Plus, I’m filthy.”

“You should stay.” I wasn’t sure what he was doing in the flowerbed, but I was sure it was some attempt to work off the guilt he still felt. The least I could do was feed him dinner.

“Alright then, if you insist.”

“Yay!” Alice bounced on her toes and smiled. “Should we call Jasper?”

“Sure.” Edward tossed her his iPhone. “He’s in my contacts.”

“Cool. I’ll call him and start dinner.”

Alice didn’t cook so I was afraid of what that could mean, but I knew she wanted to give us some time to talk about Edward’s surprise landscaping visit.

“So…” I looked at the pile of weeds that Edward had obviously pulled and the new plants he intended to put in the flowerbed. “What brings you here?”

He ran his hands through his hair, then shoved them in his pockets. “I stopped at the greenhouse to pick up some weed killer and remembered how sad this little garden looked the other day so I got a few things to spruce it up.”

I sighed and walked past him to sit on the front steps. “Not that I don’t appreciate it, but you don’t have to do this, you know?”

“I know that,” he huffed, taking a seat next to me.

“Did you cut the grass, too?”

“No,” he laughed. “Your dad was just leaving when I pulled in.”

“Wow, I’ll have to call him. That’s… nice.”

“We’re just looking out for you,” he said quietly. He scooted back on the stoop, putting his back against the door and sighed. “How are you?”

I moved back to sit against the door as well and looked out to the woods next to the house. “I’m alright. I’m just taking things day by day.”

“How was today?”

“It was a good day. How about you?”

“My day was shitty.”

“Is that the real reason you’re here?”

“Probably.”

“What happened?”

He took a deep breath and tilted his head back, looking at the clouds. “I stopped at my mom’s and she gave me a box of stuff out of her basement. She does that every once in awhile. You know, trying to get all of my crap out of her house? Anyway, today’s box was full of high school stuff: yearbooks, pictures, a some trophies and a couple of those souvenir key chains and crap from prom.”

“Sounds like good memories.”

“You’d think.”

He ran his hands over his face, then turned to look at me. His eyes were so sad my heart broke for him. I wanted to reassure him somehow that I understood how he felt, but I still had questions about his rift with Garrett.

I reached over and squeezed his hand before I spoke softly, “I’m sorry you miss him. I wish you’d gotten a chance to apologize in person, but you had two years. I don’t know why you didn’t call him.”

“I did… but I couldn’t see his face. He said he understood but,” he shrugged, “I couldn’t understand how he was so cool about it. ‘It’s all good, Ed. Stay out of trouble and I’ll see you when I get home.‘”

It all made sense to me then: the continued guilt, the the need to prove that he was a good friend. “Ah, I think I get it. You needed him to be mad and he never was.”

“Maybe.”

I glanced over and he looked peaceful, eyes closed, his head face to the sky. The set of his jaw told a different story though, and I knew he was still upset.

“It’s not your fault. Not any of it. It’s not your fault he went to Italy, and it’s certainly not your fault he didn’t come back.”

“Some days I feel like it is.”

“I know. Some days I feel like it’s my fault too, and we’re both wrong.”

“We’re a sad pair.”

I shrugged. “I don’t feel like I have to pretend around you, it’s kind of nice.”

“I know what you mean.”

He held my eyes for a few seconds, then turned and looked at the sky again. We stayed like that for a little while, silently watching the clouds go by. Finally, he stood up and stretched.

“I want to get these plants in the ground so we can put some water on them.”

“You want some help?”

“Nah, it won’t take long. No reason for us both to get dirty.”

I pulled my knees up, wrapping my arms around them and watched him. He made a couple of trips back and forth to his car to carry over more plants. Eventually he closed the doors and trunk and began to systematically dig holes and plant flowers. As he worked, he explained what each one was but, aside from decorative grasses and hardy chrysanthemums, I had no idea what he was talking about. Plants and I didn’t go well together. I warned him, but he promised they were indestructible.

Alice joined us outside after a while, waving off questions about dinner saying it was under control.

Edward was just finishing up and taking his gardening tools and gloves to the car when Jasper pulled in. He climbed out of the car and went around to the passenger side, lifting out two large bags of food from the chinese restaurant Alice had become fond of.

Oh yes, she had handled dinner alright.

000ooo000ooo Fire and Rain ooo000ooo000

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