A Flower for Ginette

Claude Monet. The Japanese Footbridge, 1899. 81x102cm (32x40in.) National Gallery, Washington, D.C.

Émile dipped his brush and watched the bristles puncture the smooth green surface of the paint in the can.

"Hand me that brush," Monsieur demanded. "Let me paint something I can."


The word struck like a deep bell in the quiet garden. He had never contradicted him before. Monsieur stood for a long time with his big hand out for the brush. The air thickened with the will of his temperamental genius. Émile took only shallow breaths.

He had come to work for Monsieur when the Japanese cherry trees were only spindles. Together they'd knelt to plant the first blue forget-me-nots to harmonize with mauve tulips and pink peonies. He'd been here before there was a Japanese bridge, before Monsieur had even bought the meadow that became the water garden. All those years. Never a disagreement.