“Are you listening to her, Maru? She’s batshit crazy”
“Don’t start with me, you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into.”
“Is that so? Why don’t you show me then?”
Maru smiled from her highchair. She was counting the petals of the flowers resting on the top shelves.
Nettles, chamomile and white roses.
The sun was high on his throne, showering the herbalist’s shop in a golden gleam. At this time of the day, it felt like being inside a sanctuary, filled to the brim with herbal offerings for nobody. The light bounced off from the hair of the two patrons that had been bickering about anything and everything since their arrival. While Maru enjoyed the chaos that seemed to follow the pair, it was obvious the rest of her costumers didn’t.
They were twin sisters, the daughters of the Vitale family, some of the few people that had been dragged into Nine Abadón after The Fire. She liked them, definitely. Their faces meant change, and that’s what the street longed for. The cobblestones were tranquil now, relishing on the feeling of having a new skin. That didn’t mean that she didn’t lament Fatima’s departure. On the contrary, a candle was reserved for her, next to the marigolds.
Marigolds were on the lower shelf, along with anise and mint.
People whispered about it, they always would. About the night, about the new-comers, about how calm Maru was when she handed Fatima's last belongings to her brother (who'd only taken a pair of shoes and left the rest). Children called her a witch, old women thought she could communicate with the dead, and she couldn’t bring herself to deny it. Being an herbalist for more than fifty years had made her grow closer to nature, all types of nature, than any of them would ever be. Closer to the street.
Closer to the lavender, basil and rosemary that were hanging from the ceiling.
A loud bang brought her back to reality, one of the sisters had knocked over her peppermint plant. She knew she was forgetting to count one of the plants.
As she fetched the broom, her smile remained in place. Yes, it was hard. She knew change was hard. It was almost as messy as the girls squawking just a few feet away, and damn her if it didn’t also take patience. The street she carried on her back was transforming, and she would be devastated if it weren’t for the fact that she was changing as well. New blooms, different thorns.
They were growing old together, and as arduous as it proved to be, every April morning made it worth it.