To-day wasn't going to be good. He could feel it, all the way down to his bones.
Matt wiped the back of his hand across his forehead, then examined the dirt that came off him. Disgusting. He looked around him. The hedges were unruly . . .the grass, gnarly and jungle-like. The dandelions . .everywhere.
This was going to take forever.
Sighing, Matt squared his shoulders, and picked up the weed eater once more.
Well, he would have, except . . .
The fun thing about living with Stella is that you can hear her coming before you can see her. Either she's wearing the big boots that stomp even on the softest grass . . or she's strapped to a backpack with seven or eight jingling keys . . or . .or . .
Dear God, no. Not the iPod.
Matt smiled inwardly, knowing that Stella was trying . . really trying to sneak up on him. Respectfully. He stood still, and waited for her to prance over to him . . .
And she did. Singing, of course.
"You're an essay in grammar . . please pardon the . . grammar . .but you're every schoolgirl's dream. You're the Celtics, United, but baby I've decided you're the best thing I've ever seen . . "
"and she was," Matt murmured to himself.
Stella stood in front of him, heavily ladened. Iced water, in a big orange glass in one hand. A very flat sandwich, on a green plastic plate in the other. A sandwich bag under her arm . . .
.....and a smile spread across her face.
Matt moved his sunglasses over his head, like a knight flipping open his steel visor. Stella tried to do the same, but couldn't quite move the glass . . to her other hand, or the plate . .to the first hand . . or ..
. .it was really quite complicated, the shuffling.
Understanding almost immediately, Matt moved forward, and gently uncovered his lady's eyes.
"Hi," he whispered.
'Hi!" she yelled back, "I brought you some . . ."
Matt gently removed one of the earbuds from her ear.
" . . .foodstuffs . . "
"I'm right here."
"There's no need to shout."
"I mean, it's not like I'm deaf."
She giggled in frustration.
Matt took the plate, and examined the sandwich.
"Why is it so . . .flat?"
"So you can eat it faster."
Matt opened his mouth to say "Oh" but stopped, mid-sound. He looked at her, eyebrow arched. She raised the glass, eye-level.
"Um . . .want your drink?"
"Not . . .yet."
"Could you hold it, for a minute, then?"
He took the beverage from Stella. She immediately ripped open the sandwich bag, and took out a moist red bandanna.
Matt acted like he was mesmerized with his sandwich. Hypnotized. So embroiled in the wonder of the food, that he didn't notice Stella raising on tip-toes, holding the bandanna in her hands . . .moving in back of him, then in front . . trying to....
.trying to . . .
"Hey, could you . . . "
"Just a moment. " he said, with his mouth full. "I'm trying to finish this."
"OK, you can . .but could you . . ."
"After all, there's some sort of time limit involved with my meals all of a sudden."
"No , I just . . ."
"I have to eat reaaaaaalllly fast before the warden comes back."
"No! that's not . . . that's not . . " She always found it hard to finish sentences when she was giggling so hard." That's . . . .smaller sandwiches help you digest better."
"Oh, now it's a question of my health. Well, thank you for watching out for me there. It's a wonder I can do any yard work at all, with me at death's door, and not being able to even digest food . . . "
"No . .I . . no . . Maaaaatttt . . .Stoppit!"
"Suddenly, I feel faint. I mean . . .I don't know if I stumble back to the house. Are you going to escort me back? It seems so far . . . ."
He finally looked at her. Her face had that one patient smile on it. Her cheeks were flushed from laughter. Her hair was all over the place
It was the best thing he saw all day.
"All right . . ." He asked, giving her smile back to her. "What do you need?"
"Could you . . bend your head down a bit?"
Matt leaned down. Stella put the bandanna around his shoulders, knighting him with coolness, and the caring love that she was showing him.
Matt handed the plate back to Stella, and drained the glass soon after. She smiled, gathered up the different accessories, and bounced away.
Matt followed her with his eyes, keeping her in sight as long as possible. At one point, she turned the corner, and the sun reflected off the glass. It looked, just for a moment, like a star in the distance.
He watched her small, glimmering figure until he could see her no more. Then he went on with the rest of his work . . .refreshed, restored . . . .
. . .and renewed for the rest of the day.