Forever in My Heart
Picture by Sabina
Seth stepped into the familiar flower shop and waved to the older man.
"Hello Seth." Vincent smiled a bit sadly - he already knew why Seth had come. "How are you?"
"I'm okay. I'd like some flowers for tomorrow. Some…"
"Daisies," Vincent said.
Seth looked perplexed. "Umm… yeah. How did you know?"
"This is the fifth year, Seth. Last year you asked for hydrangeas and the year before that, sunflowers. I see the pattern; I'm a professional, you know."
"Oh. You know me better than I thought. Do you think it's stupid?"
"Stupid? Of course not. I think you're very thoughtful."
"You think so? I mean, we weren't married or anything."
"Seth dear, you don't have to be married to love someone. And I know how much you two loved each other. In my opinion, your way of remembering him is very touching and I'm sure he would've liked it."
"Yeah," Seth said wiping a tear from his cheek.
Vincent sensed that Seth wasn't that eager to talk. "I'll have the flowers ready for you tomorrow."
"Thank you, Vincent. I appreciate it. I'll be here about noon."
"Okay, see you tomorrow."
The door was closed quietly by the handsome young man.
"It's so sad when you lose your partner at such a young age," Benjamin commented as he came up from the back room and pulled his husband into a tight hug.
"Yeah. We're so lucky we've had each other for so long. They were just starting their life together. You never know what a day will bring," Vincent said.
"We just have to hope it's something good."
Seth walked through the big old gate to Oakdale Memorial Park. He walked
along the familiar paths - he knew the way all too well. Finally he saw the
gravestone he never would have wanted to see; the one he never thought he would
have to see, much less this young.
"Well… umm… hi. It's me, Seth. It's been a year again. Five years already. I brought you daisies – it's the flower for the fifth anniversary, you know," Seth said, putting the flowers into the vase by the gravestone and carefully watering them from the bottle he'd brought with him. He didn't want them to die too soon. Yeah, things dying too soon was something Seth really hated. He sat cross-legged on the ground and after a moment's silence, started to talk.
"Vincent already knew what I wanted. I guess I'm somewhat predictable or something. And don't give me that look!" Seth grinned a little, more relaxed than he'd been in days.
"So," Seth said turning serious again, "like I said, it's been five years. Can you believe it? Some days it feels like it was just yesterday when you…" Seth fought against tears. "Why did that drunk driver have to come around that corner? Why did he have to take you away from me? I needed you. I wanted to experience things with you. I wanted to grow old with you. I finally found that special someone who accepted and loved me the way I was. Then, all of a sudden, you were gone. That wasn't fair," Seth said tears running down his cheeks now.
"I loved you so much, Ryan," Seth said quietly. "I mean I still love you. Always will."
Seth was fiddling with the freshly cut grass and looking around. "It's a very nice day today; the sun is shining and a nice breeze is coming from the south. It would be a perfect day for some Ryan and Seth time." Seth smiled a little. "Do you remember the day we first met? I was sitting on the floor playing Grand Theft Auto – and looking like a major geek I would imagine – and you came from the pool house and looked so lost. And so hot with your tousled hair. At first I thought we'd never get along but then I realized you treated me like I was a normal person, which wasn't exactly business as usual for me at that time, so I thought maybe we could be friends. Of course, very soon I noticed I wanted more. And you know, I was pretty damn happy that you felt the same way."
"You were my first true love. You know that, don't you? You were the first person I loved with all my heart. I hope I told you that often enough. And then the day… just when everything was like it should be; we were living together and we both had good jobs. All of a sudden, you were gone. Gone forever. When I came to see you at the hospital… you looked so pale on that hospital bed… I couldn't believe I would never see your smile again. That was the worst day of my life. I wouldn't wish that kind of pain even on my worst enemy – no one should lose their love like that. I thought my life was over when I sat beside your bed."
"Jeez, there's tons of pollen in the air today," Seth said wiping his eyes. "You know how allergic I am to pollen."
"You know, even Chrismukkah isn't what it used to be – it's just not the same without you. I remember our first Chrismukkah together: you were kinda hesitant at first but eventually you grew into it. Some of my fondest memories of the two of us are from Chrismukkahs. You remember the year you gave me this bracelet? I wear it practically every day. The Snoopy charm always reminds me of you; I wish I would've seen you in that musical."
"The leather wrist band of yours, you know – well of course you know, you had it on you all the time – I was going to put it with you but Summer talked me out of it. She said I'd regret it later and I should keep it as a memory. I had to admit she was right and you know how smug she can be when she's right. Be glad you don't have to experience that. Well anyway, I still have the wrist band." Seth paused for a moment. "It still smells like you. When I really miss you, I take it out and hold it against my cheek. For a brief moment, it almost feels like you're still here." Seth wiped his eyes. "Pretty sissy, huh?"
Seth fell silent then and closed his damp eyes, lost in his memories. The sound of someone else's voice startled him.
"Were daisies his favorite too?"
Seth turned towards the friendly voice to meet a pair of sapphire blue eyes. 'Just like Ryan's,' Seth thought. "Umm… no. It's just that it's been five years since he…" Seth paused. "Daisy is the fifth year anniversary flower so…" He paused again.
"Oh, I see." From the understanding look on his face, Seth thought maybe he did – see that is, and understand. So he didn't mind the young man's next words. "Do you mind if I put one of these for Ryan? I'm sure my mom would like that – she worked with young people all her life… I remember how sad she was every time someone young died."
"Sure. I mean, I don't mind." Seth looked at the young man. "So, you're visiting your mom?"
"Yeah. Twelve years ago today. Drunk driver. He didn't get a scratch."
"I'm sorry," Seth said, offering the words, even though he knew how meaningless they were. Man, if anyone could empathize with how empty they were, it was him, he thought. Feeling as though something more were called for, he added a friendlier smile, which seemed to warm the young man much more than his sympathy had.
"Thanks. I've learned to accept it although it hasn't been easy. I know this sounds like a terrible cliché but it'll get easier with time."
"I hope so."
The young man hesitated, glanced down at the headstone again, but seemed to get whatever sign he was looking for because he took a deep breath and turned back to Seth. "I don't know how appropriate this is in these circumstances but if you'd like to talk, maybe we could go grab a cup of coffee or something?"
Seth looked down at Ryan's grave also and then back at the guy. "Yeah, that would be nice."
The young man went to visit his mom's grave but promised to come back shortly.
"I bet you had that all planned out in that architect's brain of yours, didn't you, Atwood? Always pushing me out of my lonely geekdom… Okay, I get the message. But you won't get rid of me. I love you, Ryan. You'll be in my heart. Forever."
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