Lucas was practically bouncing with excitement as he led his daughter through the house and into the backyard. The afternoon sun hung high in the sky, casting a pleasant glow over the entire yard as the pair crossed over the patio area and past the hot tub to where Lucas’ garden grew.
“You’re never gonna believe this, Krysti.” He said, his voice almost giddy. “Look!” He gestured down at the pair of odd-shaped lumps sticking out of the dirt at the edge of his garden. “I don’t know how I didn’t realize it until now!”
Krystina said nothing for a few moments and simply stared down at the oddity before her. “Um… dad?” She said softly. “What am I looking at, exactly?” The woman peered down at the strange growths that stuck out from the clump of dirt. “Are you talking about those weird little lumpy things? Those have been there for ages!”
Lucas laughed heartily. She was right, of course. For years, slowly but surely, the peculiar white bumps had begun to emerge from the soil below. For the longest time, Lucas had thought it was simply some strange species of mushroom that had not germinated properly. But now, he understood.
“You’re right.” He agreed. “All this time, it’s been right under our noses, can you believe it? This is it!”
His daughter raised an eyebrow “It? You mean…”
“The last ingredient! The Dionaea… Whatever.” The old man laughed again. “We’ve had it all this time!”
Krystina’s eyes widened. “Seriously? A-are you sure?”
He nodded eagerly. “I must have read the description a thousand times… This has to be it.”
Lucas had read the ambrosia instructions so many times that it was committed to his memory. He quickly recited the description of the oddly shaped black-and-white seed that, according to the book, belonged to the plant he was looking for.
“It sounds almost exactly like that weird seed Mitch found in Oasis Springs, doesn’t it? When we were looking for the fish?” He asked. “Well, this is where I planted it.”
His daughter was thoughtful for a moment. “It does, actually…” She admitted slowly. “But we planted it years ago… and it’s still just a weird lumpy sprout.” Krystina gestured down at the dirt below them.
Lucas was unfazed. “I know. But the Death Flower grew just as slowly.” He reminded her. “Remember?”
Krystina furrowed her brow. “And it does seem to fit with what they said in that weird article Dani found…” She said slowly.
Her father nodded. An internet search about this ‘Dionaea Taurus” had not yielded much, but his granddaughter had managed to dig up a weird little site all about ancient and unusual plants and herbs – some of which were only rumored to actually exist. And the life cycle of the plant described in the article was peculiar to say the least…
“One of these days, it’s gonna shoot right up.” He said confidently. “You’ll see.”
“Wow…” Krystina said softly. Lucas watched as her eyes lit up slightly. “After all this time, you may actually have it, dad.” She paused. “But I don’t really know if we should be getting our hopes up just yet… I mean, after what happened with the fish…”
“This will be different.” Lucas insisted. “Trust me.”
His daughter smiled. “You seem so sure.”
“I am.” Lucas replied seriously. “Your mother challenged Death himself to get this book to us.” He said. “This can’t all be for nothing. We really have it this time, I can feel it.”
Krystina sighed. “I hope you’re right, dad.”
Lucas smiled gently at her. “Me too.”
Later that evening, just as the sun had begun to set, Lucas stood by the backdoor, waiting impatiently for Evelyn to appear. He was so excited to tell her about his discovery… But nervous too.
Please, please… Don’t let this be another failure. The old man silently prayed.
Sometimes it felt like all he’d given Evelyn for decades was just one disappointment after the other. From her cure to their relationship – all he ever did was let her down:
When he was a child, forced to distance himself from her by his parents; all those nights during his youth when he’d left her behind in favor of going out with his friends; his shameful betrayal on the night of his 21st birthday; the countless failures in the early days of his search for the cure; the years he’d strung her along, too cowardly to confess his true feelings; the horrible night that he broke her heart…
And even after their years apart, when she’d finally come back into his life, he continued to let her down time and time again — The years of failure as he’d searched for the angelfish, all his fruitless efforts at preparing the cure, the way he’d distanced himself from her after Mel got sick… She never deserved any of it.
Death had seemed so sure that Lucas had been helping her… But when he looked back, it certainly didn’t feel that way.
I’m going to do this. He told himself firmly as Evelyn came into view at last. Lucas watched in excitement as she crossed through the hedge toward where he stood. And this time, I won’t fail her. I can’t fail her.
For the first time since he’d lost Mel, Lucas felt like he had a purpose again, like his life had a meaning – and that meaning was to keep the promise he’d made to his best friend over 60 years ago.
“Evelyn!” He cried as she drew closer to him. “You’re never gonna believe this…”
Something had changed in Lucas after that day.
It was a gradual transition — one that his friends and family did not immediately recognize, at first. But before long, it became clear that there was something different about him.
His grandchildren could see it, his daughter could see it…
But no one saw it quite so clearly as Evelyn.
Even before Mel got sick, Evelyn had seen a change in him – but a very different sort of change than the one she saw now. With each failed attempt at making the cure, Lucas had become so sullen and withdrawn. He’d tried to hide behind a happy face, of course. But for the past several years, Evelyn could feel his pain each and every time they were together.
And when Mel’s health began to decline, things only got worse. No matter how hard she tried to stay positive and be there for Lucas in whatever way she could, Evelyn could not shake the feeling that she was losing her best friend all over again. And when Mel’s life had come to an end, Evelyn resigned herself to the fact that things between her and Lucas would never be the same again… That he would never be the same either.
It was painful to see him like that. It was even scary, almost. And Evelyn worried about him constantly.
But not anymore.
For the first time since being reunited nearly twenty years before, Evelyn truly felt like she had her Lucas back. They began spending a few hours together almost every night, laughing, playing games, watching old movies, looking up at the stars… After so many years, it finally felt like things were going back to how they used to be.
Their friendship was stronger than ever, it seemed. And Evelyn found herself feeling happier than she had felt in a long time.
And as the next few years went by, it wasn’t just their relationship that began to improve — Lucas and his family seemed to become closer than ever before.
The first several months after Melanie’s death were difficult for all of them, of course. But with time, the family made it through their tragic loss together, and learned to find happiness again.
And the driving force behind it all seemed to be the quest for Evelyn’s cure.
Caring for the unusual plant and working to decipher the complicated recipe had given them something to work toward together… Something to give them hope again. Especially Lucas.
It’s just like Melanie said, isn’t it? Evelyn had realized. He needed something to keep him going… and now he has it.
Lucas was never quite clear on how Melanie had convinced Death to reveal the truth. But whatever she’d done, Evelyn was so grateful that she had.
It was not so easy, at first. But the more time that passed, the better things seemed to become.
There were still rough days, of course. Mel’s absence had left a hole in Lucas’ heart that Evelyn knew nothing could ever fill.
But Lucas always managed to make it through.
For his family,
and for the decades-old promise he was now so close to fulfilling at last…