A Single Flower

First off, apparently May 10th (last Wednesday) was my Blogiversary! My blog is 4 years old! YAY!

Okay, now onto a piece of flash fiction.

Trigger warnings: Depression, alcoholism, death of a loved one.

The empty scotch bottle slipped out of his fingers and settled next to the single flower growing from her grave. Tears ran down his cheeks into the stubble that had formed on his chin over the past week and a half since the night of the accident.

She was gone and it was his fault.

His back starting to cramp from his hunched, crumpled position leaning over her grave, he laid back onto the ground and looked into the trees, listening to the gentle hum of insects and the soft rustle of leaves in the breeze. He took a deep breath in an attempt to make the world stop spinning. The air was thick with the pungent smell of the bottle of Glenfarclas that had half gone down his throat and half gone into the ground. A warm, smokey flavor lingered in his mouth and he thought, “I better appreciate the taste now, because I doubt I’ll be able to stomach it tomorrow.” This was the sort of bender that turned one off of specific types of booze.

They had been saving this bottle of scotch for a special occasion. There would be no more special occasions now.

He had never been a big drinker, but he had been drunk that night – the night he had killed her – they both had.

For what seemed like the millionth time, the way her neck had felt beneath his hand when it snapped ran through his mind and he could almost feel it again. His stomach churned, from the booze? From the spinning sky? From the memories? Yes. Probably all of the above.

Tears had stopped flowing, but his body still went into convulsions, and his chest still tightened while he quivered in dry sobs.

He hadn’t meant to, he had loved her with all of his heart, but she was just so damn fragile. One moment she had been shrieking with laughter while they wrestled in the bed, her trying to lick his face because he had complained about her breath. The next moment they had tumbled out of bed and his hand went out to catch them. Somehow – and he still couldn’t piece it together – her neck had been twisted between his palm and the floor as her head hit the ground.

He had felt it snap and she had gone limp even while they were still falling off the bed.

One poorly placed hand. One fragile neck. Two lives ended.

The tears came back now. They tore through him as he curled into the fetal position on his side facing her grave. She had been his everything and he had killed her.

“Lance?” a small voice broke through his sobs.

He sat up and looked around frantically. It was a small, frail voice, but it was hers for sure. Was he losing his mind?

It came again, repeating his name, “Lance?”

It came from the flower. He looked closer. The flower turned towards him, petals framing a tiny face. “Lance, is that you?”

“I… I… How…?” was all he could get out and the flower smiled.

“I’ve been brought back to you, my love.”

“But,” there was a panicked tightness in his chest while he struggled to catch his breath. How was this possible, “How did you-”

“It doesn’t matter, Lance. I’m here now and we can be together.”

He crouched down so that his nose was inches from the flower.

The broad smile was strange buried between petals of a flower, but it was undeniably hers and it warmed his heart and he started to smile for the first time since she had died. “Stop crying; this wasn’t your-” she stopped short with a gasp.

“What’s wrong?”

“It wasn’t your-” she paused, the smile fading. Then the flower whipped around, looking at the ground, “GAHHH!” she cried, “My roots are burning! Make it stop! Make it-” She fell silent staring at the empty bottle of scotch on the wet soil.

“You DIDN’T!” she screamed in anguish.

“What?” he asked.

“OH god, the SCOTCH IT BURNS!”

The scotch? He grabbed the bottle. It was 120 proof, plenty high to kill just about any plant.

“You stupid son of a-” she continued, “OH DAMNIT IT BURNS!”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t-”

“I worked so hard to get back AND YOU’ve POISONED ME!” The flower was leaning to one side and convulsing now.

“I’m SORRY,” he bawled, not knowing what to do, dropping the bottle and cradling the flower in his hands. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know.”

But she was gone again.

The small, single flower wilted and died.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered, rocking back and forth, “I didn’t know.”

Listen to it here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/9es9atuty2hob55/ASingleFlower.mp3?dl=0


Super-Special-Awesome Flower Award


There were slow, plastic footsteps on the bookcase. The toy trout and bass, which sat on the highest shelf in the nursery, looked at each other in exasperation as if to say, “What do they want now?”

The highest shelf almost touched the narrow ledge for the high window, so the fish that sat on it could flop over there when the need arose, but they were cut off from everything else. The other toys in the nursery had devised, built, and maintained ways to get just about everywhere else in the small room, but the means of climbing up onto the top shelf still eluded them. The closest they could get was the top of the bookcase, which was about a foot below where the fish sat. The fact that the fish literally overlooked the play area and never moved around the nursery – they had been a gift from uncle Paul and little Beatrice seemed about as interested in them as Paul did in having his own children some day – made them the de facto leaders of the nursery.

“Excuse me, Trout, Bass,” said the voice of Commander Chiefikins below them.

Commander Chiefikins was one of five GI Joes that Beatrice had inherited from her brother. Four of them held the title of Commander, the other one, Private Privateson, was the boss of their little group (the kid had no idea how ranks worked, and so, neither did her toys).

“Yes,” said trout not even trying to hide his displeasure at having a conversation, “what can we do for you, Commander?”

“Did you know,” asked Chiefikins, obviously nervous, “that the Private’s birthday is tomorrow?”

“Again?” asked Bass

“Beatrice likes celebrating birthdays; we all have at least six,” the GI Joe laughed.

“Neither of us have even one,” stated trout. He didn’t have a choice in the matter, but it was obvious from his tone that if he did, he still would have been frowning deeply while he said this.

“Right,” stated the GI Joe, looking at his feet and wondering if his knee joints would allow his feet to reach his mouth, “Well, tomorrow is the Private’s number 1 birthday.”

“Did you have a point?” Trout sighed.

“I was just wondering if you knew,” he said slowly, his feet shuffling back and forth uncomfortably, “and also if you were aware that he’s never been given the Super-Special-Awesome Flower Award?”

“Ah,” Trout said, “THAT’s what this is about.”

The Super-Special-Awesome Flower Award was the highest – and only – honor that the two fish ever bestowed upon the others. On occasion, when the window was left open a crack, one would flop over there and pick a single jasmine from the brushy bulk that climbed the wall outside and crowded the window. They would then present it to a member of the nursery to honor them for some sort of achievement. Trout had wanted to stop doing it a while back, but Bass had insisted that the fact that the others were striving for the award was the only reason the two fish were still in charge, otherwise they’d be forgotten on their high shelf.

“Well,” stated Bass, “we can’t just give him one because he wants it,” as if there was actually a selection criteria for the award.

“It would make him so happy,” said the Commander.

“If we gave it out like that,” replied Bass, “it would lose all meaning.”

“Maybe so,” said the GI Joe, shuffling slowly toward the edge of the bookcase. When he made it to the end, he looked down the ruler they used for a ramp to the dresser for a long moment, then turned back and said, “though, I think you two are just being shelf-fish.”

Listen to me read it here:

Get a grumpy bass on a shirt here: