The valley was once a patchwork of greens—fields of grain, pasture, orange groves. Benjamin and Catriona planted maize. Chickens scratched around the little house. Each day wonderful aromas—baking pie crust or stewing fruit—drifted through the kitchen window. Catriona could look out from her chores and see the flowerbeds.

At week’s end Benjamin would stop by them to pick blooms for her. She would set them on the table where they listened in on discussions of cropping and housekeeping and being together.

Then the rains stopped. The dams dried up and, with them, the line of credit they relied on.

After five dry years the dust started. It blew into the valley and settled, covering everything.

One afternoon Benjamin walked out into a cloud of it so thick Catriona soon lost sight of him. He was gone one hour. Two. Three.

Out of the rust-coloured swirl he emerged, at last, his hands cupped in front of him.

Catriona hurried him through the door, slamming it before too much dust followed him.

He opened his hands. Nestled in his palm was a tiny, miserable daisy. ‘The last one anywhere,’ he said.

The next day they packed what they could into the old truck and left the farm, without even bothering to lock the door behind them.

 

2011—Richard Holt / small stories about love (smallstoriesaboutlove.wordpress.com)

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