His silence kind of scared me. Seriously, he looked at me. His dark eyes studied my face. “That’s not a good sign,” he said, looking back at the white leaves, which were moving back to the branches.
“What? Why? What does it mean?” I asked excited.
Father Michael didn’t look at me, when he answered. “In the middle ages, people thought a disaster is going to happen, if the leaves of a shrub turn white in spring.”
“A disaster - what kind of disaster? I don’t understand!” I exclaimed. Gradually, panic welled up inside of me. And it wasn’t helpful, that I had to worm all information out of him.
Finally, the Father turned his head to me, looking me in the eyes. “Back then, people thought it’s an omen of death,” he said, studying my face again, as if he was looking for something in it.
“What? Why?” I yelled hysterically, my voice shrill. Shocked, I looked at him. A shiver ran down my spine.
Father Michael noticed my panic attack and closed the door to the garden. Maybe, he thought I wouldn’t want to go outside as matters stand. And he was so, so right.
“Why is there an omen of death in my garden?” I asked, while the Father made me sit down on his chair.
Father Michael squatted down in front of me and put his hands on my knees. I felt their warmth through the fabric of my pants. Several minutes passed, in which he tried to calm me down with stroking. But I was almost sure he was also looking for the right words to answer me. I expected the worst. “Michael!” I begged him, jumping up and down on the chair impatiently.
“I don’t know why it is happening precisely in your garden. All I know is what a white shrub means,” he said, looking at me worried.
It took my breath away. “Does that mean I’m going to die?”
Quickly, he shook his head. Still, I saw the worry lines on his forehead. “You won’t die, Ada,” he said, but it didn’t convince me at all.
Again, I started to shiver. Tears were in my eyes. Father Michael wanted to hug me to comfort me, but I blocked him. “If it’s not me who’s going to die, who is it? It can’t be you,” I said, pointing at him. “God is protecting you. So, it must be me!” I jumped up from the chair and pointed at the shrub, whose leaves were falling down again. Actually, it looked quite pretty and not very threatening.
“It’s just an old superstition from the middle ages, Ada,” Father Michael said, putting a hand on my shoulder.
“If it is just a superstition, why do you take it so seriously?” I asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Many centuries ago, people believed in such things, because they did not know better. It is absolutely not proven, that this is an omen of death. It does not necessarily mean that one of us dies. Maybe the bird, that flies over the shrub next, dies or the shrub itself dies,” he said, shrugging. He eyed me anxiously, as if he wanted to check, whether I bought his story.
With narrowed eyes, I watched him. I had never believed in smallpox monsters and vampires, but a few years ago I had found out that they do exist. So, death predicting bushes weren’t off-beat, right?
“But you don’t know it, do you, Michael? You are not sure,” I said.
He didn’t answer, but that was all I needed.
I started to cry and walked up and down. “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh,” I muttered, nibbling at my fingernails.
“Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh.”
Suddenly, strong hands grabbed me by the shoulders, shook me and made me come to my senses. Startled, I looked at the Father. “Calm down!” he snapped at me.
“I can’t calm down if you tell me the Grim Reaper is standing in my garden to pick me up!” I screamed.
“You. Will. Not. Die. Got it? I will not allow that! I protect you! Do you understand?”
I stared at him like a deer in the spotlight of an approaching car. I sobbed. Desperately, I flung myself into his arms, crying like a baby. His words didn’t comfort me, as I wondered how he was supposed to protect me, if he wasn’t with me at night, patrolling the streets?