I loved pansies. They were so cute, and they came in so many colors. The ones by the drive had been neglected however, and needed some care. I crouched down, glad I decided to wear jeans and not a sundress. And shoes, I needed to start wearing shoes more often when I gardened. Or did anything for that matter. Looking back at the pansies I forgot about my clothes. A string of morning glory had wound it's way through the flower patch. I leaned in, looking closely to unwind the long vine from the flower stems.
Weeds fascinated me. They know that they are unwanted in cultivated gardens, yet they plant their roots anyways and sneak their way into the flower bed and twine around the plants to take the sun and nutrients they need. In a world of survival of the fittest, the weeds would win, but in a cultivated garden, my pansies would win out. I extracted the vines, putting them in a nearby basket. I was about to look into the patch again to see if any other interlopers had arrived, when I heard the gravel crunch on the road. Looking up I saw Al standing there, looking down at me.
"Your flowers are beautiful as ever," he said smoothly, I'd never head him talk like that before. I stood up as he continued. "But I think they pale in comparison to a beauty such as yourself." He stepped closer to me, getting in my space, not giving me a chance to back away. "I truly do not think you have the gift to grow, but that you are so full of life and beauty that you inspire nature to try in vain to reach your level." I raised an eyebrow, what had gotten into him? "I fear nature will always fall short of that goal, though, my dear."
"Pretty words, but I don't think you know what your talking about." We still stood only a few inches apart, I didn't back away, Al smelled nice, something I'd never noticed before. Must've been a new cologne. The way we stood gave me a different perspective on Al, he was taller than me, but not by too much, maybe four or five inches, my eyes came about level with his neck. Looking up at his face I realized he was looking at me in a way that was quite unusual. A large grin spread across his face.
"Why, Naomi, I hate to say you are wrong... But you are sincerely the most gorgeous of flowers in this school." I took a step back, this seemed a little bit strange, nice, but strange.
"I doubt that very much." I looked down at the flowers around my feet, "these are quite beautiful I think" the flowers blurred before my eyes. the flowers at this school, right, Eve, Kate, Makenna. not to mention the ones that i wasn't friends with. There were so many more 'flowers' in this school. I ought to know, I was the flower expert.
"You looking at those flowers is the equivalent of staring into a dirty mirror. It shows your reflection, only dims the true radiance." Al stepped forward again, closing the space between us. He'd never acted this way before, I looked up at his face, mere inches from my own. Something wasn't quite right, but I couldn't put my finger on it.
"Al? What has gotten into you?Are you feeling alright?" Stepping back, I put a hand to his forehead. His skin was cool, not feverish at all. Al simply smiled
"I've just gotten encouraged by your beauty, Naomi. Why stand back and speak nothing of how I feel when I can come forward and speak the truth?" He leaned in to my hand, taking it from his forehead and kissing the back of it. I felt my eyes open wide. I stood frozen there for a second while Al retained hold of my fingers. Slowly I drew it back, he gave no resistance.
"You flatter me," I said, trying to brush it off. Yet it was so unusual that Al was acting like this, especially towards me, I had to figure it out. I stood for a moment, trying to figure out what was going on with him. He stood a mere foot from me, looking more relaxed and calm than I'd ever seen him. He had a small smile on his face, he looked confident. He could be president, I thought. I'd probably vote for him. Then I realized he'd been standing still, looking at me, just as long as I'd been looking at him.
"Tell me, where are you friends today? I haven't seen Annie around." Or Dante. I added silently, talking about his ghosts still made me uncomfortable. I dealt with the living, not the dead. But maybe it would draw his attention.
"Annie is back in my room. She seems to like you more than the other girls." He said, gesturing with his head back towards the school, "And Dante is probably off doing his research." That was interesting, I wondered what he was researching, then Al continued. "It's only you-" suddenly he stepped forward and reached his arm around my waist "-and me." He finished. Shocked I shoved away from him, all curiosity gone. That was too much, I turned to go to the garden,
"I have to get back to my plants!" I began walking towards the greenhouses. I paused, looking back, he hadn't done anything wrong, technically. It had even been sort of nice, someone giving the attention to me for a change.
"I'll see you later then?" I asked. He waved, grinning again,
"I'll always be just a call away for you!" He said. I waved back and ran towards the greenhouse. When I got there I looked back again, Al wasn't there anymore, but I smiled in that direction anyways. It could be nice if... I smiled to myself and turned to trim the rosebush that had just sprouted over zealously next to the doorway.