I loved this photo series Jon took of me in Santa Fe, but rather than just posting the pictures on their own, I thought it’d be fun to write a little page turning story to go along with it! So without further delay, here it goes:
Isabelle leaned against the wooden railing on the balcony outside her bedroom, admiring the climbing roses that crept along the adobe walls. She gently brushed the stem of a blooming pink bud, enjoying the sensation of the course bristles beneath the flower’s leafy base. Careful not to prick her fingers on a thorn, she closed her eyes, filled her lungs, and let out a sleepy breath. It was early morning, the sun had just risen and it was her favorite time to daydream.
These roses were old, planted by her mother when she was a young girl looking for something to pour her passion into. She had imagined that with enough love and care, the small scrawny rose bushes would bloom into something wildly beautiful. Isabelle thought for a moment of her mother – a delicate, meticulous woman whose fiery spirit made her a fighter, something that Isabelle, herself, had hoped to be one day. She mourned her loss each morning, but Isabelle was determined to carry the embers of her mother’s spirited passion in her own heart.
It was then during her musings, that she heard the familiar creek of the big wooden courtyard door below her balcony. Its stiff hinges were desperately in need of oil, but each time one of the household staff greased the metal it would stay quiet for a day or too, then go back to creaking its loud, cranky yawn. The sound made her heart quicken, and her palms slowly heated from the anticipation of who was coming through the doorway. She listened carefully as the blood rushed to her blushing cheeks, a bee buzzed past her tightened hand, and the last of the night’s crickets chirped softly as a man entered the garden.
It had been two weeks since he was hired, but it felt like Frederick had been employed as their gardener for years. His presence simply felt right, like he had always been among the wild blooms of her mother’s flowers. Isabelle struggled to remember even one of the faceless gardeners that previously held the position – none of them had lived up to her father’s expectations. She hoped for a different path for this man.
Each morning while Isabelle daydreamed, she couldn’t help but include Frederick in her thoughts. He never spoke to her, never looked her way, but she knew he could feel her watching him on the balcony above. His hands moved carefully over each bloom, sweetly trimming dead leaves and softly laying fresh soil around the base of the hearty bushes. Just as she had watched her mother when she was just a child, Isabelle watched Frederick slowly fill the rusty green wheelbarrow with clippings.
She sighed as she studied him, his strong, agile hands deftly parting stems and clipping leaves. Dark, wavy hair was curling behind his ears, and sweat was beading at the back of a sturdy neck. A simple white top fitted his muscular arms and as he bent to retrieve a rake, Isabelle saw a line of tan, golden skin appear at his lower back. As he stepped into a pool of sunlight, she could see that Frederick’s square jaw framed a classic nose, full lips and was home to smoldering green eyes that rarely looked away from his work. He was a slave to the flowers, devoted and caring, just as her mother had been. For some reason it filled Isabelle’s heart with a secret hope.
He looked tougher than she suspected he was, but Isabelle had never seen him from any place other than her balcony so she couldn’t know for sure. By the time she had finished her lessons and work for the day he was always gone from the courtyard. Once she had accidentally dropped a book into the rosebush below her window and as Frederick moved to fetch it for her, her father had suddenly appeared and picked it up.
So, for two weeks, she stood on the balcony, watching him, waiting for him to say something, anything, to her. But every day he neither spoke, nor glanced her way, and she began to believe in his indifference to her. Before, she would have smiled and said a friendly hello, but he seemed to never want acknowledgment. Now they were at a stalemate, it seemed, and Isabelle didn’t want to be the one to break the silence. Call it stubbornness, but when she demanded something, she insisted on having it her way, and on her terms. So, she’d wait, patiently, until her was ready to speak to her, even if it meant waiting forever.
Just then, her father called from inside the house, and Isabelle turned, abandoning her sun-lit post to follow his deep voice. It was then, in the trail of her hair, that Frederick looked up, and watched her cross the threshold into her darkened bedroom. His eyes fixed on her until she was indiscernible from the shadow. He then let out a deep breath, slowly exhaling the tension he felt in his heart, and went back to tending the roses.
And that’s it! I hope you enjoyed my little romantic tryst, I know I did! And to read another short story, click here!