“I can’t let you pass, you have unfinished business.” He holds up a hand to stop me, as if that would do anything. The guards here work through guilt and persuasion, rather than physical force.
“Come on, I’m tired. Let me in Pete.” I try to shove him aside, but it’s no use.
“I know for a fact the welcoming counsel said you could come in after making things right. Time is on your side friend. Go get it done.” Pete smiles. He tries to reassure me that my unfinished business is the exact thing I want to deal with right now. I roll my eyes.
“Fine. I’ll go.”
I wander through the streets. How was I going to convince her how much I had loved her? How could I let her know how sorry I was?
I hover in the window of her coffee shop. She was so proud to be a business owner. It was a happy place, welcoming people of all shapes and sizes and statuses. She’d created a sanctuary. She’d wanted to save everyone, armed with a smile and a cup of joe.
I know she blames herself about me.
Across the street, there’s a florist I would frequent whenever I got in trouble. Forgotten birthday? Roses. Belated anniversary? Daisies. Early Christmas present just to be safe? Poinsettia and chocolate covered strawberries. Could it work one last time?
Her favourite flower was always the peony. She loved the gentle, unending layers. The fragile way it called out to be caressed, both shy and gorgeously bold. She had pink peonies at our wedding. But, today calls for white.
I drift into the empty shop. I take my time building the bouquet. I cry, remembering every time I let her down. And every time she forgave me anyways.
Regret arrives with an onslaught of emotions.
If only I’d asked for help. If only I could have seen how much she loved me.
If only I hadn’t fallen asleep. In the car. In the garage.
Yes. If I could do it over, I would have never put her through this pain.
I fill out the card with an inside joke and my tenderest feelings. If she can find peace in this life, then I can rest easy in mine.
At the cafe, I wait for the quietest moment to slip in and leave her bouquet on the counter.
She walks out of the kitchen and notices the flowers. Confused, she searches for a delivery person. She doesn’t notice me hovering in the corner. She picks up the card.
First, her mouth drops.
Then, she smiles.
Then, she cries.
She kisses the note and presses it to her heart. Now, I’m certain she’ll be okay. I can’t be certain she’s forgiven me yet, but we will both find peace.
Pete welcomes me back.
“You finished your business?” He asks, but he knows.
“Yeah. I’m ready now.”
I pass through the gate and float to my headstone for some much needed rest.
Thank you for reading this story today, your time is the most flattering gift of all.
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