Are They Real? (10)

Flowers and metal watering can

I planted violas and marigolds beside my fence along the road. I say violas because that’s what it said on their six packs. I thought they were miniature pansies when I bought them. Planting is my favorite part, when the earth is clean and moist, the flower starts fresh and full of promise, full of hope. In those first days, I am drawn back again and again to feast my fill of them. On Thursday I was in my courtyard taking pictures of the evening sky, when I heard the jingle of a dog collar. People like to walk their dogs along our little road, in the habit, I think, from when the open field still lived on the other side of it. I heard a man’s voice ask if those were new flowers, a woman say something in reply. I stood still then, camera in hand, listening. There was a pause as they walked by, then the man’s voice again. “Are they real?” he asked. I didn’t know whether to be amused or offended. The woman who lived here before me had fake red tulips hanging off the front of the trailer. I shook my head, went back to capturing the changing clouds. The next morning, watering can in hand, I decide to take his question as a compliment. He must have wondered if they were real because their colors are so vivid, because they look so perfect, I tell myself. I pour water on them and shake my head again, amused now by both of us.

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