Matiu was as happy as a bird.
And that day, the birds were happy. Their song sang out to melt in Matiu’s ears. The warmth of the sun pierced through concrete-coloured skies that had finished raining and were moving on. Matiu thought that he better be moving on, too. Her didn’t want to keep her waiting. Down the footpath he went, almost skipping. He couldn’t wait to see her. Up ahead was a small florist. He stopped to take in the fragrance of every flower, carefully considering each one. Although he didn’t know the names of them, he knew her favourite by smell. The bluey-purple flower smelled faintly sweet. Matiu could taste it on his tongue. Yes, he thought, these are the ones.
“ See anything you like dear?” asked the lady behind the counter. She smiled at him and he smiled back.
“ These ones, please.” He said and nodded to his choice.
“ For a special someone, huh?” she teased. “ Eight dollars, dear.” Matiu handed her a ten his father had given him before he left.
“ Thank you.” He smiled as she handed him his change.
He carried on down the footpath, humming a tune she'd taught him. When he got to where she was staying, he paused and took in a deep breath. He walked up to the door and knocked, listen for someone coming. A lady in her late thirties opened the door.
“ You don’t have to knock anymore Matiu,” she said. She was smiling at him too.
“ Thanks Mrs. D,” he replied. He only called her Mrs. D because he couldn’t pronounce her last name. Before he could even say anything else, she had disappeared up a flight of stairs. Matiu sat on the sofa and waited, his fingers nervously fiddling with the flowers. A while later, he heard footsteps. He stood up and turned. There she was at the foot of the stairs with a cotton dress and a big straw hat pulling back her dark hair. She was also carrying a basket and a blanket. Matiu walked over to her, half smiling, half looking at her feet, and handed her the flowers.
“ These are for you.” He said shyly, shifting from foot to foot. She took them in in one deep breath, closing her eyes. When she breathed out she opened her eyes and look at Matiu. She caught him staring and smiled, making him blush. She took his hand and led him out to the back yard.
This was a magnificent yard. It was large with a garden as big as Matiu’s house. She led him to an open space and spread the blanket out on the grass. It was soft and warm. After the blanket was set, she opened the basket and took some sandwiches from it. When she had placed some more sandwiches, two muffins, some fruit slices and two cups of pure orange juice onto the blanket, she smiled at Matiu again. He took a slice of fruit and told her of his week, school, his soccer game and his father. Through all of this, she said nothing, but smiled politely and laughed with him. Matiu loved her. The way she smiled made him warm inside, even on the coldest of days. And she listened without interrupting, and she never wanted anything, except for his company and to hear him speak.
The sun was hot and the clouds had made way for a baby blue sky. They had finished their juices and she stopped to take in her flowers again. They lay down, facing the sky, and she began to tell him what she had been up to. Matiu felt like falling asleep next to her. She put an arm under his head and they both silently watched a nearby tree sway in the wind.
“ Matiu!” called Mrs. D. “Your fathers here waiting.” He sat up. He didn’t want to go. He wanted to stay. Stay here with her forever. She was already sitting up and was pulling something else from the basket. From it came a small teddy bear, with a blue baseball cap and shirt. Matiu stared at it as she handed it to him.
“ That’s for you, son.”
Matiu was starting to sniff. His eyes watered at the thought of leaving her again. He couldn’t look her in the face.
“ Don’t cry, darling.” She whispered. “ You can come and visit me next Sunday. I promise.”
“ Ok.” Matiu sniffed. He was starting to hiccup when she took him in her arms and hugged him tightly. He felt better, but only slightly. He cried into her shoulder and she rocked him gently.
“ I love you,” she said, and then she lifted him to his feet and tied his shoe.
“ You look after that bear until I come home, alright?” Matiu nodded. “ Now off you go, and tell your father I love him.”
Matiu hopped into the passenger seat and put on his seatbelt, wiping his eyes. His father put an arm around him.
“ She’ll get better soon,” he said. “ She’s a little bit more than amazing, your mother is.”
Matiu took a deep breath and hugged his bear tightly as they pulled away from the halfway house on the hill.