“We were out walking, and Andrea here saw your roses. She has a question for you.” He turned to the little girl and nodded. “Go ahead.”
“I was just wondering if I could have one of your pretty flowers for my room. The pink ones remind me of my mom.” The little girl raised her eyebrows, big green eyes staring hopefully.
Amelia’s heart melted. “Of course you can, my dear. Let me just get my pruning shears and a damp paper towel to wrap the stems in while you carry them home.” She went to the kitchen and was back in two minutes, joining the girl and her father on the front sidewalk.
“The pink ones, you say?” Amelia asked. An enthusiastic nod from the little girl, and Amelia was on her knees. She cut one large, open bloom and several smaller blooms just beginning to open. Wrapping the ends, she secured the damp paper towel around them with a rubber band and presented the small bouquet to Andrea.
“There. I bet your mother will love those. Is she waiting for you at home?”
The girl’s eyes turned sad. “She doesn’t live with us anymore – she died. We’re going to visit her at the cemetery.”
Amelia blinked back tears. “I’m sorry to hear that your mother’s gone already. I hope the flowers bring you both joy. Did your mother grow roses?”
Andrea shook her head, dropping her gaze to the ground.
“We have one of her bushes left,” the dad said, putting a hand on each of the girl’s shoulders. “Unfortunately, I’m not very good with plants, so I’m afraid it’s just barely limping along. I’m sure it needs something, but I’m not sure what, exactly.”
Amelia started to stand, and the man helped her up. “If you can wait here for just another minute, I’ll be right back with something that will make your roses grow like gangbusters.” She followed the front path where it branched off toward the side of the house. Opening the cellar doors, she grabbed the flashlight that always sat just on the top step and went down into the cool dirt room. She retrieved a small jar and took it back up to the yard, handing it to the man.
“Now this is pretty potent stuff – I make it myself. Just sprinkle a third of a cup around the base of the plant once a week or even every two weeks, and water it in well. That’s all you need to do and your roses will be looking great in no time.”
Andrea smiled and clapped, as well as she could with the cut flowers in her hand, and the man smiled.
“How much do we owe you?”
Amelia shook her head with a slight laugh. “Oh nothing at all. It’s on the house.”
She waved at the man and his daughter as they walked away down the sidewalk. How lovely they’d been to chat with. Perhaps they’d stop by again some day and let her know how the rose bush was doing.
With a wistful sigh, she went back inside and started to make breakfast, hoping she would still have enough time to dispose of Number Four and replace the jar of fertilizer she’d just given away.
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