The crocuses hadn’t bloomed. Every year, they were the first sign of spring. Isaac looked forward to the cheerful light purple blooms all winter. But this year, the snow melted, the temperatures were just a little warmer, and the crocuses didn’t bloom.
All over the neighborhood the other crocuses bloomed in cheerful patches of white, yellow and purple. “Maybe ours are in a shady spot,” Marianne said. “They’ll bloom.”
And then the dandelions started to bloom white, yellow, and orange. “It’s kind of late for crocuses now, isn’t it?” Isaac asked.
“A little bit,” Marianne agreed. “But they could still bloom.”
But when the tulips started to bloom in orange, red, white, yellow, pink, and purple, the crocuses still hadn’t bloomed. “Maybe this isn’t their year,” Charlie said.
“We could dig them up and plant new ones,” Marianne said. “I do like the yellow crocuses Miss Marta has in her yard.”
“They were the first ones in the neighborhood to bloom,” Charlie said.
Isaac liked their purple crocuses. They were in bloom when they first saw the house, years ago. “Let’s give them another year,” he said. “Weren’t you planning on adding some rosebushes this year?”
Charlie frowned. “We could do both.”
Marianne laughed. “We could, but let’s let your dad keep his crocuses. He really likes them. I’ve seen him talking to them before.”
“Really?” Charlie turned to stare at Isaac. “I thought you didn’t like plants.”
“I like the ones I’m not allergic to.” Isaac shrugged. “Crocuses are special. They remind me of hope and fresh starts and new beginnings. I like to tell them about my plans and goals and how things are going.”
Marianne laughed. “I imagine they’re great listeners.”
Isaac looked down at the patch of dirt and leaves by the driveway. “Well, yes, normally they are.”
Charlie patted Isaac’s arm. “I’m sorry they let you down this year. If you need someone to talk to, I’ll listen.”
Marianne wrapped them both in a hug. “I think we should have something special for dinner. Who wants to help me make cheesy broccoli soup?”
“I love cheesy broccoli soup!” Charlie headed for the front door. “I’ll grate the cheese,” he called over his shoulder.
“I’ll be right in,” Isaac said. Marianne squeezed his shoulder and then followed Charlie inside.
Isaac sighed. “What happened this year?” he asked the empty flowerbed.
“Sometimes flower fairies are late coming back from vacation,” a small voice said.
Isaac looked up. A little girl was standing next to the empty crocus patch. She had greenish-blonde hair tied up in tiny pigtails, and she was wearing a shiny, gauzy purple dress. It was the kind of dress that Marianne sighed over in the store when she was feeling sad about not having a little girl to dress up and have tea parties with.
“Are you lost?” he asked.
“No, just late. I’m sorry.” A strong breeze blew through the yard, carrying faded brown leaves leftover from autumn. The leaves swirled around Isaac and the little girl, and Isaac closed his eyes against the onslaught for just a moment.
When he opened his eyes, the little girl was gone.
The next morning, as he left for work, he glanced to his left as he drove down the driveway. The crocuses were blooming. Isaac stopped the car and jumped out. “You’re back,” he said. “I hope you had a great vacation. Let me tell you about how my year went.” His phone beeped in his pocket. “Oh, right. Work. I’ll tell you all about it when I get home. Wait here, okay?” And with a smile on his face, Isaac got back in his car and left for work.