Poppies –plants with red flowers: an annual or perennial plant that has large red, orange, or white flowers, cup-shaped seed pods, and milky sap.
The next day there was more humidity in the air than the day before. And even though yesterday was gray and it looked like rain most of the day, the rain stayed away. Luck wouldn't be on their side today, for there would definitely be rain today. Charlie was certain of it. Looking up, he couldn't decide if the sky was white or gray today. He suppose it was somewhere in between those two colours. A large, dark, and determined looking cloud threatened to turn the morning's humidity into a torrential downpour.
Even as he thought about the rain that was to come, he realized he had a thin layer of wetness clinging to his arms and face from just the humidity alone. If it rained he would have to stop planting flowers today, and he would have to go inside The Burrow and he would be forced to spend time with his family and he might even give in to his family's wish to converse with him.
He sincerely hoped it didn't rain. Placing his flowers, mulch, and gardening tools in a small wooden cart, he pulled it down a path near the back of the garden.
And as determined as that cloud overhead appeared to want to turn the gray sky into a springtime storm, Charlie was just as determined not to talk to anyone today. He hadn't talked to anyone thus far, and he wasn't going to do it today, even if Hermione Granger badgered him to hell and back.
Of course, the whole 'not talking' thing was a bit of a lie. He would sometimes tell his mother good morning. Twice he told his father good night. He told George goodbye the other day when his brother left for work. He would answer questions with one word answers… yes… no… maybe. Oh, and he had spoken to Hermione two days ago, hadn't he? He had definitely told her 'bless you' when she sneezed, so there was that.
Today, however, he didn't talk to his mum or his dad when he walked past them, even though his mother had told him 'Good morning, son,' and his father had stated, 'It looks like rain, Charlie.' He didn't respond when George left for the shop and called out, 'See you later, Charlie.' He didn't reply to Ron when he'd said, 'Need any help out there today, Charlie?'
He didn't talk to anyone and he knew that was a problem but he didn't know what he should do about it. For the longer he went without talking to his family, the longer they would seek to make him talk. It was a vicious, endless cycle. It was almost ironic, because Charlie felt more like an observer in his life than a participant, even though he longed for human contact right now. He craved it almost as much as he disdained it.
If Hermione came again today, she would try to get him to talk again, he knew she would. He supposed his family hoped she would be successful in her endeavors. Oddly enough, Charlie hoped she would be successful as well. She would try to make him discuss his feelings and emotions, his fears and desires, his worries and his hopes. She would fail, of course, utterly and completely. Still, she would try. He wanted her to try.
Charlie wanted her to try to make him speak almost as much as he wanted to 'hear' her talk to him. He wanted her to try to make him speak almost as much as he didn't want to talk.
It was ironic, and it was stupid, and a waste of time.
Charlie emptied the cart and started on today's flower. He picked poppies to plant today. Poppies for remembering… poppies for forgetting… poppies for honoring the dead.
Why did he think that last thought? He was trying hard to forget the dead.
He started planting the flowers by the back fence. In a couple of weeks they would be full to bursting, a riotous display of reds and oranges peeking out between the slates of the old, wooden fence. He might not still be here to see them, but he could imagine what they would look like. They would be beautiful, just like the woman who was holding up her hand as she walked down the narrow path toward him.
"Hello there!" she called out. "Looks like it might rain today!"
Charlie secretly smiled, ducking his chin to his chest. Now that she was here, he really hoped it didn't rain today, because if it rained, she might leave. He wanted her to stay. He wanted to hear her talk to him, even if he didn't talk to her.
He needed her to talk to him. And so she did. She said, "Oh goodness, you're planting poppies today. I absolutely love poppies. I'm sure you already know all about them, but still, did you know that poppies are usually red, although the sometimes they are orange or white. They're either an annual or perennial plant that has large red, orange, or white flowers, cup-shaped seed pods, and milky sap."
Without regard to the dirty ground, she sat down beside him and continued her diatribe. "A poppy is a flowering plant in the subfamily Papaveroideae of the family Papaveraceae. Poppies are herbaceous plants, often grown for their colorful flowers. They have a pharmacology distinction, because the extract from the poppy is used in drugs like opium and other medicine. There are other plants similar to, or related to, the poppy, for example, there's the California poppy and the Welsh poppy, although these poppies are more orange-red, or a bright red tinged with orange, unlike our English 'true red' poppies."
Picking up another poppy from the cart, Charlie placed it on her leg and then wiped his hands on his trousers before picking up a second one to place in another hole in the ground. She smoothed her finger down one of the red petals of the poppy on her lap, her finger moving slowly and gently.
"The remembrance poppy has been used since 1921 to commemorate soldiers who have died in war. Today, they are mainly used in the UK and throughout the Commonwealth to commemorate their service men and women killed in all conflicts since 1914. Of course, you know that small, artificial poppies are often worn on clothing for a few days prior to Remembrance Day."
Charlie finished planting the poppy that was in his hand and he glanced at her and grinned.
She saw his smile and returned a smile to him and said, "I know, I know, I talk too much. But since you aren't inclined to talk at all, I thought I should talk even more – enough for both of us."
She stretched out her legs beside him, handed him the poppy from her lap, and then opened up an umbrella, placing it over her head. "But seriously, tell me if I'm talking too much, alright?" She looked up at the sky and said, "It really does look like rain, but I don't mind a bit of rain every now and then, do you? Oh, did you know that it rains more in May than in April, even though the old adage states that April showers brings May flowers? Well, it does."
She continued to talk about the rain, and the clouds, and the humidity, and then more about poppies, and he knew without doubt that he needed to hear her talk more than he needed anything else right now. It was nourishment for his soul. Her voice was a balm on his bruised heart.
And perhaps everyone else – his mum and dad and brothers – needed him to talk to them for that very reason, too. He would save that thought for another day. Today he was planting poppies, and listening to Hermione Granger talk about the weather.
Life might not be so bad after all.
Part 4 coming up