Birds sang in the bare branches of the trees. The air had a fresh, new smell to it, the very earth exhaling as the days grew longer. Mary pulled her winter jacket a little tighter around her shoulders. The sun was bright but it gave out little warmth. It would be a few more weeks before the jacket was no longer required.
‘Spring at last, Jack.’
She carefully set a canvas bag beside her and knelt down to tend the soil. She could feel the damp even through her denim jeans. They’d probably need to go in the wash later.
‘I thought that winter would never end. You’d like that, I suppose – school closing and all that snow for sledding.’
She took the gardening fork from her bag and began to dig into the earth. The cold and wet weather had left it packed together; no use for planting. Still, at least the weeds weren’t a problem yet, though they would be next month.
‘You remember that snowman we made last year? Ping pong balls for eyes and a carrot for a nose. I put one of your caps on it and said you looked like twins.’
The soil tilled, she put the fork aside and took a plastic wrapped bundle from her bag.
‘Crocuses,’ she said. ‘They’ll look lovely when they come up.’
She gently pushed the bulbs into the soil, then covered them back over. There was no need to water them; the ground was damp enough already.
She packed up her bag and stood up. A cold breeze blew over her and she shivered.
‘Mind you, the daffodils are coming up nicely. They should be flowering any day now.’
The birds sang. She breathed deeply, feeling the crisp chill of the air in her lungs.
‘How is daddy? I miss you both, you know. It hurt me so much when you went to join him. But that wasn’t your fault, I know.’
She wiped away a speck of dirt from her eye.
‘Your daddy left when you were so young. Did you even remember him?’ She sighed, her breath like steam upon the cold air. ‘I suppose that doesn’t matter. You’re together now.’
The wind blew through the bare branches of the trees.
‘I should have paid more attention to you. I should have listened. And now all I have are these visits. I can’t hug you like I used to. I can’t kiss you on the cheek before you walk through the school gate. I let you down, and you were taken from me.’
She fought off the tears. She’d cried too many already.
‘I’m sorry, Jack. Mummy comes whenever she can. And now that spring is here, I’ll come every week. I promise.’
She turned away, following the path that led out of the gardens. Behind her, the polished black marble glistened under a coat of morning dew.