Flash Fiction II

Only Flowers

It’s quiet today. Damp and hushed, with only a soft weeping of rain on the pavement and the distant hum of traffic, still thready at this hour of the day. I pass under a stone arch, shadowed with water and laced with budding vines that drip into my hair as I cross underneath. In the summer, the trellis and low wall will be smothered with clematis and jasmine, constantly at war with the invasive ivy that the groundskeepers seem unable to quell. For now we have the bubbled stalks of grape hyacinth, swaths of daffodil, cherry trees as pink as cotton candy. The creek at the bottom of the hill is thick with caramel-colored water as it weaves between the pines.

I wonder whether someone planned the Seussian landscape particularly for this part of the graveyard, where the children are strewn under miniature headstones and the grass-stroking leaves of a willow. I have never walked around the rest of the cemetery, so I don’t know whether the larger graves are decorated or left alone. Here we adorn them with small bouquets, and there are stuffed animals, pinwheels, and fallen balloons dotted across the grounds, as if a party has ended abruptly and the detritus left out in the rain. I used to bring that sort of thing myself, but now I make a point of bringing only flowers. The sodden toys depress me, lying corpselike on the grass, and I often wish they’d been given to living children instead. The flowers are something different, and rot more gracefully than the poor abandoned bears lying slumped against the graves.

I open my bag and use a pair of rounded scissors to strip the daisies of their grocery-store cellophane and the thick rubber bands that hold them together. I like the way they tumble loose across the grass, stems crossing, their faces turned to the sky.