“I didn’t know if you were coming,” Patty said as soon as Marie had pulled herself out of the dented beetle.
Her sister shrugged, shoved a cigarette between her lips, and lit it with the same beat-up Zippo she’d had since she was 17. “Let’s get this over with.”
Patty pursed her lips. Marie kicked off her shoes. They began walking toward the grove.
“They’re growing well,” Patti explained, stress compelling her to speak. “Much fuller than last year. I was a bit worried, with that late frost—”
“You know they’re dead, right?” Marie interjected.
“I,” Patti faltered, “was talking about the trees.” Marie snorted, took another drag and walked on. “Someone has to tend them,” Patti grumbled.
Then they reached the trees. Tall, sturdy oaks, some nearly 200 years old. Continuing on, they passed smaller and slimmer specimens until the sisters stopped suddenly about fifteen feet back from the two slender saplings on the eastern edge of the grove.
Stillness among the trees.
“That’s where they’re . . . ?” Marie asked.
“Yes,” Patti said in a whisper.
A gentle breeze. Leaves shaking. Their hands found each other.
“I’m sorry I wasn’t here,” Marie said.
Patti squeezed tightly. “I’m glad you’re here now.
* * *
Story by Gregory M. Fox