3 min read

Chapter 31: A Summer Rest

Saffron takes a break from her troubles and the heat
An image of two butterflies is overlaid with the text "Saffron and Bear" and "Chapter 31: A Summer Rest"

Need to get caught up?

“Is it much farther, Saffron?”

“No, Meg, just a few more minutes.” Saffron turned back to check on her friend. “Do you need a break?”

Saffron had been trying to follow Sage’s advice and get out of the house–and her own head–a little more often. She hadn’t spent much time with her friends lately, and she remembered how Meg had tried several times to reach out to her in the past year. She’d arranged a special day with Meg and Henry.

“I can manage a few more minutes.” The older woman smiled back. “It’s the bloody heat that’s doing me in, dear, not the walking. My leg’s just fine.”

It was hot. Summer had come out of the gate with blazing heat and the sun hadn’t let up since. Saffron had hoped that it would be cooler here in the forest, and it was, but not enough to escape the heat altogether.

Meg had never quite recovered from the injury to her leg a few years before; she still limped, and today she leaned on Henry’s arm a little more than usual. Saffron walked a few steps ahead, holding aside branches and warning them of any uneven ground or fallen branches. Bear brought up the rear, when he wasn’t wandering off to chase a blackfly or nibble on some grass.

Before long they arrived at their destination. Saffron pushed aside one last branch with a flourish.

“Here we are!” she declared.

Meg gasped. “Oh, how lovely!”

“Did you do all this?” Henry asked.

“No, it was mostly Sage,” she admitted. “I only helped.”

Sage had decided that her project for the summer would be to make a little garden oasis in the forest. Since the meadow and all its flowers had disappeared last fall, both sisters had been lamenting the loss of all the colour and beauty, and Sage had decided to do something about it. She had picked an area where the stream’s course gently curved, and spent days carefully transplanting native wildflowers into a beautiful garden. Alistair’s contribution was a little bench, just big enough for two people to sit and admire the beauty around them.

Today, butterflies were flitting from flower to flower, and here by the stream, a light breeze stirred the air, bringing both much-needed relief from the heat and a beautiful floral scent.

“Come, take a seat.” Saffron gestured her friends toward the bench. “I thought this would be a nice place to enjoy our picnic.”

“You could say that again,” Meg gushed. “She’s done a lovely job with it.”

“It’s not done yet, either. She still wants to plant this section here,” Saffron gestured, “and she’s been trying to convince Alistair to build another bench so there’s room for all three of us to sit out here together.”

Bear nudged against her leg.

“I’m sorry, all four of us.” Saffron laughed as she bent down to scratch behind his ears.

“Thank you for sharing this with us, this is just what I needed.” Meg lowered herself onto the bench. “It’s a little slice of heaven.”

“Thank you for coming out here with me. I know I haven’t been the most attentive friend lately.”

“That’s alright dear,” Henry assured her as he took a seat next to his wife. “We know you’ve had a lot on your mind. We’re just glad to see you now.”

“I’m glad to see you too. Now, how about lunch?”

Saffron dug into the bag she’d carried with her and served out the little meat pies she’d made the night before, pieces of hard cheese and a handful of strawberries for each of them.

“I brought a little treat, too.” She pulled out three mugs and a bottle of raspberry cordial she’d been saving, pouring them each a serving. “I thought it would be nice and refreshing after the walk in.”

“It’s perfect,” Meg declared. “It’s all perfect, Saffron.”

Saffron beamed up at her friend. Sitting in such a beautiful spot, with her friends and her cat, and a delicious feast before her, she couldn’t help but agree.

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Katie Conrad is a speculative fiction writer living in Halifax, Nova Scotia. You can find her on twitter, instagram, and tumblr.