Dandelions are funny things, and they always have been, at least I’ve found.
The trail led from the mat inside of the back door right through the lower, slabbed section of the garden, up the steps, across the decking and through a tiny, rabbit-sized hole in the fence. Broken bits of plants displayed the route, predominately dandelions, though mostly just the stems and leaves – some heads, but mostly just stems. It looked like they had been torn, ripped, not cut at any angle, taken with their surroundings from the earth in which they lay. Was this an intentional part of Scott’s thinking?
So, I followed until I got to that rabbit-sized hole. An average sized cat would have fitted through that hole, I would have said, if it wasn’t too fat. An average size cat, but not an average size dog because of the added agility that a cat possess and a dog lacks in comparison. It was smaller than the size of a loaf of bread, rounded at the top corners; I can’t explain it any other way.
Anyway, no matter its size, this was a strange thing because the hole wasn’t cut, no, not as such. It wasn’t smashed through with a hammer or at a charge. No, there were no saw-lines, at least, no visible saw-lines. It wasn’t snapped back or contained within a sole panel; it looked gnawed – but it wasn’t cut. If it was Scott I don’t quite know how he would have managed it. I certainly couldn’t get through, but I could see enough to find that the dandelion trail continued.
I stepped up onto a foothold at the bottom of the fence and peered, then over instead of under, and saw that it veered off round the corner of Mrs Margot’s garden. It wasn’t a cold day by any means, there being no wind. It might have even peaked into the 20s by perhaps a degree or two, but Mrs Margot wouldn’t come out, I knew, not without at least one for company and wearing a hundred cardigans. I did most of the tending to Mrs Margot’s garden – or Scott did – or me and Scott did, and she wouldn’t mind me being there, I knew, and Scott knew, and if she did then she wouldn’t hear me anyway – her TV was at the front of her house, and her armchair faced the same way.
So I went round to our connecting gate and went on through – we didn’t have a lock. I only really tended to Mrs Margot’s lawn – her lawn and occasionally to her primroses in the pots near to her back door – the same as Scott, meaning that the rest of the surrounding shrubbery was a bit of a jungle, but I saw the trail alright. It led from the fence-hole out onto the lawn and down the longest stretch of grass that the garden had in any one place, round her antique birdbath in a loop before falling into a hole just below a bush, probably formed by some rabbit before it got scared off… Typical Scott.
I put a hand in that hole and took out a letter, broke the seal. It read: I’m not home right now, but I will be by six. That was the word ‘six’, not the number.
I didn’t stop much to ponder any thought that then came. I walked back the way I had come – only without going back around that birdbath. If I had begun to try to dissect whatever Scott had intended by that letter then I stopped as soon as I made it back into my own garden, getting stuck on the realisation that I had left the back door open. It wasn’t cold, though, so I don’t really know why it preyed on my mind like it did. It was probably warmer outside than it was in but for the wind-chill factor – or the occasional breeze factor, as I say, such was the time of year in the north south-west. I walked in and pulled the door to. I could see from the back door the light from the front.
The dandelions now led from the front door out into the street.
I don’t know what it is about dandelions, but there is definitely something. I like their imperfectness. They seem sad, look almost lost in appearance, with their leaves drooped and their stems often slouched, not like daffodils that grow up, flower and shine, and yet they are so bright a-yellow none-the-less, so vibrant. I like their smell, though I don’t notice that dandelions have much of a scent – I like the smell, but when they’re dead. When they’re dead they lose the life emanated in that yellow wig, and they become sticky to touch, the life in them having slipped away, unlike the soft brush that they give you when alive.
You know when you’ve passed a dandelion. You know when you’ve held one taken from its roots, sticky in your hands, on your fingers, when they’re torn like that, but they retain that goofy, imperfect beauty still. My favourite flower as a child was a dandelion because it was the only name I could remember – dandelions and daisies, though I always preferred the yellow of dandelions… Perhaps it was for the memories, the sentimental value – perhaps Scott knew.
“Hi, Hannah, are you alright, my love?” I heard.
I looked up, turned round, having been watching the floor, the trail, found myself in a trance, my surroundings slipping to my subconscious. “I’m fine thank you, Mrs Wells,” I said. I think that I smiled but I can’t quite remember.
“Awful mess out here, isn’t there?” I looked back up, not having realised that Mrs Wells was still talking.
I can’t remember what it was that I said in return, something like, “Hrmm, sure is…” with a quick turn of the head, or perhaps I simply smiled again, my head never looking up from the dandelion trail. I can’t remember.
Anyway, the next thing that I knew I was out on the hills that backed onto our home – that backed onto our home in the sense that a wall parted them, but if you walked down the road away from town and took a left past Mrs Flanagan’s then you would be back behind our house.
I bent down when the trail ended, took out the note from the hole. It read: Back in five! This time it was the number five, as opposed to the letter – so it actually read: ‘Back in 5!’ I looked around then, checked high and low, out onto the hills, back over our cul-de-sac, but I couldn’t hear as much as the wind blow.
The doorstep held another note: I invited all of my friends over, hope you don’t mind! Lots of love, Scotty.
I was met by the sight of Scott in our garden, sitting in a chair on the patio, legs crossed, reading the newspaper. Behind him were more rabbits than I’d ever seen in one place, one of them a snow white, and hanging in a basket above that white rabbit and his friends were dandelions.