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“People say that the eyes are windows to the soul. What then are the things that the eyes find glorious? Are not these delightful things mirrored expressions of the soul?”

It was a hot day. It was the kind of heat that pressed Ern’s clothes against his skin in a perpetual sweat. It was a good thing that it caused him to walk slower than usual, for that limited the amount of dust that was kicked up adhering to his clothes. It didn’t stop the layer on layer he collected with each passing vehicle. Everytime he’d stop to drink some water, he would do a quick pat down in the effort of not growing an exoskeleton.

This time, he had stopped before a house, an older one in need of fresh paint. There were a few potted flowers on the porch. Behind the side gate, it appeared the backyard was unusually shaded with surprise patches of color. He gathered a handful of pale-blue chicory and Queen Anne’s Lace flowers from the the opposite side of the road, got out some paper and pen, wrote a quick note, and left it and the flowers on the porch with a knock.

The note read:
Dear Miss, I was just walking by and noticed your flowers hiding in your backyard. I would very much like to look at them; however, since I am a stranger, if you don’t mind my looking, you can leave your gate open. I’ll be back in an hour, and if your gate is open, I’ll look about. If not, I’ll continue on my way.

Respectfully,
Ern M.

Alexandra, a lover of all things green, caught a glimpse of Ern as he disappeared around the bend. “Such an odd looking man,” she thought. He looked like he was homeless, but he didn’t carry himself as such. After about ten minutes, she went outside and swung the gate open wide. He seemed harmless enough.

Ern did return. He saw the flowers were gone, and the gate open. He went in to see her garden, stooping momentarily to stroke a handless cat. He was gray and not well disguised for the hunt until colors fade to black.

Her backyard was as near a woods as could be without losing the human touch of hand planted trees. Through the thick trees, little patches of color jumped, crying for the same attention as a cigarette lit in the darkness. Ern enjoyed the idea of little piles of jewels nestled in the bosom of green. He’d almost skip about going to each display to admire them. Then, he’d randomly pick another grouping to explore.

Alexandra watched Ern from her second story window as he danced among her flowers like a drunken spider weaving in wet grass. Often, she’d see him lift a flower in his hands to smell them. He seemed particularly fond of the dark red roses, almost as if they held a special meaning to him. He slowed momentarily as he rounded the pink yard toys. He paused thoughtfully, then gazed back up to the house. She was certain he had seen her pull back from the curtains. When she had summoned the courage to look again, he was gone. No, wait. He had sat down on her garden bench next to the house.

He seemed exhausted. He had reached into his pack and drank near a quart of water. Then, he replaced the empty bottle with what she thought was a book. It was, however, a notebook and he proceeded to write.

He finished with the first page, then began another, which took much longer. He crossed some things out, and wrote in other things. He took a third sheet, and wrote it out quickly. He placed the first and third on the bench next to him, and the rest went back to his pack. After another quick drink, he got up, stretched, looked her way again, and then left through the gate.

After he was gone, Alexandra went down to see what he had written. It was another letter. She sat on the bench to read the pages. As she read, she wept.

The first page read :

Dear Miss,

I wanted to thank you for allowing me to take the pleasure of your garden. I hope that I didn’t worry you overmuch. My feet are often tired of travel; yet, walking among your flowers has brought pleasure to my weary day. Please take this letter and what lies on the next page as token of my gratitude for my slight intrusion into your life.

Respectfully,
Ern M.

The second page contained :

Stained Glass
by Ernest M.

Behind this painted house with cat abide
Does lie a garden laid extraordinaire!
The trees agreed to cast their shades aside,
To make some room for flower’s sunny air.
These flowers shine as windows in the wood
Which channel golden sun into bouquets
Soul’s treasures echoed out in flower-hood
Displayed as scattered love — inside a blaze.
And yet, with all this beauty cast outside,
The flowers loved the most are kept close by,
Those children loved by mother true and tried
Will grow up well with roost of butterfly.
So many people judge by what they see.
The wealth inside — the best reality!

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