Six weeks later…
“Well, I think that’s the last of it.” Lucas smiled as he looked around the tiny kitchen, satisfied. “No boxes left!”
Melanie came up behind him, laughing softly to herself. “Okay, do you realize that about 80% of the stuff you brought with you was cooking supplies? Do we really need a pot rack? Two sets of knives?” She shook her head, smiling. “What did you do to my kitchen?”
“Our kitchen.” Lucas corrected. “And I improved it, trust me.” He glanced toward the refrigerator, his smile widening. “Speaking of which, I think all that unpacking deserves a little reward… Give me a few minutes and I’ll make us something to eat.”
“Mmm… Okay, the next time I complain about the kitchen, please just start shoving delicious food in my mouth to shut me up.” Melanie laughed. “I could get used to this…”
Lucas smiled. “Oh, I see… You just wanted me to move in because it was cheaper than hiring a professional chef to come cook for you.”
“Whoops… Caught me.”
As soon as they were done eating, Lucas rose to his feet with a small sigh. “Alright, I gotta head home and grab a couple more things. But I’ll be back soon.” He assured her.
Melanie walked around the table to where Lucas stood. “But you are home now, remember?” She teased.
Lucas lifted a hand, stroking Mel’s cheek gently. “I love the sound of that…” He smiled. Home…
He leaned forward, giving her a quick peck on the lips. “See ya in a bit.”
“Sure you don’t need any help?”
“Nah, I’ve got it.” He smiled. “Don’t worry.”
Lucas was relieved to find the house deserted when he arrived. He’d had to endure enough of his mother’s tears the day before, and he wasn’t sure if he could take any more. Poor dad… He thought, amused. Hopefully she’ll get over it soon.
After going up to his bedroom and grabbing a few odds and ends from his dresser, Lucas packed them away in the car, then headed around the back of the house to the backyard to tend to his plants one last time.
He’d given his mother specific instructions on how to care for his garden, but Lucas knew the plants would not survive long without him… His mother was a busy woman, and could often be a bit forgetful. Their simple vegetable garden had been one thing, but these plants needed constant care. Still, part of him hoped they were resilient enough to make it… At least in-between the days when he could visit and check in on them.
As soon as he’d finished his watering, Lucas brought out his gardening shears and carefully took a cutting from each plant. Just in case…
Of course, Lucas knew there was no longer any point to it all. Maybe he wanted to continue out of habit. Maybe he’d actually developed a taste for gardening over the years. Or maybe it was simply because it reminded him of Evelyn. Whatever the reason, there was something in him that could not bear to sit by and watch the plants he’d cared for for so long wither away and die. So he’d decided to start a new garden at his new home. It’ll help to liven up the backyard, at least. Lucas thought to himself as he carefully packed away the cuttings.
There was just one thing left to do.
“I guess this is it, Ev.” He whispered, looking down at the tombstone in front of him.
It seemed especially foolish to try to talk to her now, knowing that she was well and truly gone. But Lucas wondered if maybe, wherever she was, she could still hear him.
“I’m sorry I never got to keep my promise. But I tried so hard, Ev. I guess I thought I’d have more time…” Lucas paused, sighing softly. “I just hope that you’re happy now, wherever you are.” He reached out a hand, running it over the cool, smooth surface of the marble stone. “I’ll always love you, Ev. And I won’t forget you, no matter what, okay?” He hesitated, as though waiting for a response. But he knew one would never come.
Lucas looked up at the big, beautiful house and the cheery yard around him. And to think I wanted to run away from this place… He almost laughed, looking back on it now. It felt like a lifetime ago.
Mel’s house was barely twenty minutes away, and Lucas knew he’d be visiting his parents often. But somehow, it still felt like an ending – like there was so much he was leaving behind him. But it was also a new beginning, he realized. And, beneath his nervousness and uncertainty, Lucas was so excited to see what this new chapter of his life would bring him.
Lucas took one last look at the old marble headstone, then turned away and began the journey back home.