"Hahh!" Scarlett exhaled, straightening from kneeling in the dirt. "I finally got all of the bags of fertilizer spread." She clapped dirt and grass clippings off of her palms and brushed them off of her knees and shorts before straightening her shirt. "Flowers need lots of attention."
She picked up her gold-colored watering can from the ground beside her rose garden and stretched her neck, looking up at the blue sky. To think a year had already passed since she'd moved into Ecclesia, on a day as wonderfully sunny as today.
"I should invest in a hat," she said to herself as she wiped sweat from her brow. "I'm going to get burned if I keep this up all summer." She grimaced, and added, "just like last year."
It had taken quite a bit of work to clean the town up, and it still wasn't complete. The tree farm could only send a few saplings every week, so as not to deprive other customers of their crop, and her flowers were being particularly picky as to when and where they would drop seeds. It had taken a few weeks and several bottles of joint pain reliever to clear the weeds alone, let alone plant new flowers along the pathsides and clear out the dying trees and collect fruit from neighboring towns and develop orchards and work in agreeance with new neighbors as to where they would build their houses and and and...
"Oh, there you are Scarlett!"
Scarlett was snapped out of her reminiscing by a familiar voice. "Hi, Annalisa, what can I do for you?"
"It's just terrible, Scarlett, terrible!" she said quickly, close to tears. "I was talking to Maple earlier and we started talking about how it's been a year since you'd moved in and that she'd always loved this town and how back at home my mom always liked to serve rice milk with dinner and she said 'oh, mine too!' and I said that you said that-"
"Annalisa, slow down! I can't hardly understand you," Scarlett giggled, watching her next-door-neighbor's pale face redden as she hurried through her story. "What about Maple?"
"She said she's thinking about moving out!"
Scarlett cracked her knuckles and rolled her shoulders, trying to loosen her stressed muscles. "Good for her! It'll be nice for her to see the countryside."
"MAYOR?!" Annalisa cried, her eyes bugging and tears welling. "How can you say that?"
"Well, think about it Annalisa. If you never left home, you wouldn't be living here now, would you?" Scarlett prompted.
"W-well... No..." she said quietly, looking down at her bare feet. She wiggled her toes in the damp earth where the mayor had just watered.
"Exactly. And somewhere out there there's another little town like ours, where Maple's going to make some great new friends just like she did here. Just like I did here."
Annalisa sniffed and wiped at her eyes. "But I'll miss her."
"I know you will," Scarlett said, setting down her watering can and hugging her close. "We all will. But you can always go visit."
"Thanks, Scarlett," Annalisa said with a weary smile. She kneeled and plucked a stray pansy blossom from among the roses and held it close to her chest. "I'm going to tell her you said that!"
Very tired and very sore, Scarlett watched as Annalisa bolted excitedly down the path towards Maple's house, trampling a few tulips along the way. She laughed to herself. "And to think I was debating moving back home last winter."
A small canary overhead chirped happily, hopping from branch to branch looking for bugs. Scarlett reached into her backpack and pulled out a fresh peach, leaving it at the trunk of the tree. Dislodging a few dead leaves, it jumped down and began feverishly pecking at the juicy fruit. Scarlett smiled. Thinking of leaving hurt her heart, as often as she did. Watering can in hand and empty mulch sacks over her shoulder, she headed home for a bite to eat before preparing to prune the hydrangea bushes.
A week later, she received a letter in the mail, sealed with a heart-shaped sticker that read;
My dearest Scarlett,
The time has come for me to move on. It's with a heavy heart I write this letter, but I wish you and everyone in Ecclesia my warmest regards. I don't know where I'm going yet, but I'm sure I'll see some place I like along the train tracks. The conductor always gives me bags of peanuts when I travel.
You'll visit me, right?