Saturday, May 2, 2009

Writing Prompt: Flowers

So I was motivated to join the challenge for writing a short about flowers issued by Elana at Mindless Musings. I had a lot of fun writing this, and would as always love to have your feedback.

I'd also strongly encourage you to participate in this endeavor, even if you don't consider yourself a writer. It's always nice to see the multitude of interpretations a single word can give.
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"The Flowers that Were"
by KLo

The stage was wooden and splintery. Once, when Autumn had been rehearsing for a show, a girl in the “special class” at school name Marisa had cut her foot fairly badly. She’d continued to dance in her jerky, marionette way that everyone snickered at and secretly imitated behind her back, apparently unaware of the blood dripping from the bottom of her bare soles and freckling the peeling wood with red droplets that caused the stereotypical pre-teen drama scene.

Autumn wondered, just before the lights went down, if there were still remnants of Marisa’s blood up there, on the very platform her daughter would momentarily be the center of. She knew of course that this was impossible, that Marisa’s shed and forgotten (except for those late night slumber parties where the girls laughed … and laughed … and laughed) blood was as much a ghost as an Autumn that was comfortable getting up in front of people, of singing and dancing under brightly colored lights, of letting her voice be heard.

Samantha was brilliant. She always was, and Autumn listened with mixed pride and indignation as those sitting around her raved of Sam’s talent even as they muttered about how nice it would be if someone else got the lead, for a change. It bothered Autumn a bit that, as she sat alone in her seat on the aisle of the auditorium, a bit hunched over as was her wont because to hold her head high might mean looking in someone’s eyes, nobody seemed to realize that she was Samantha’s mother, that the hands holding a bouquet of spring flowers from the local grocery store were the same hands that had held Samantha to her breast seconds after she was born, who had crooned her the songs that had given her such a repertoire of music in her mind, had introduced her to the concept of harmony and lyrical introspection.

Autumn’s eyes didn’t leave Samantha from the first act until the curtain call, when the audience gave her daughter a standing ovation and Samantha’s eyes burned with a passion for what she had done. Her smile of joy, of pride, was bestowed upon the musical director, on her peers. Samantha beamed as she, along with her cast mates, gestured to the lighting crew, the stage crew, and the pit orchestra.

Autumn noticed that her sweaty hands had creased the floral wrap into a wrinkled, sweaty mess. The flowers, bright pinks and purples, were crushed and shabby-looking. Autumn surreptitiously slid the ruined bouquet under her auditorium seat. Nobody noticed.

In the lobby after the show, Autumn stood alone against the far wall waiting for Samantha. Every time the door swung open, an April breeze wafted in, smelling of lilac and newness.

Samantha appeared out of nowhere, and Autumn’s lips started to curve into a smile. “You were great, sweetheart.”

Samantha nodded. “Do you have any money, Mom? Everybody’s going out to get an ice cream.”

“Um, sure, I guess. Are you sure you don’t want to come home? You must be tired.”

Samantha rolled her eyes at the coterie of girls that had followed her. Autumn noticed with despair that five of the six were holding bouquets of flowers, gifts of appreciation for a job well done. She thought of Samantha’s bouquet, hidden and alone in the now-empty auditorium, and wanted to cry. Instead, she rummaged in her purse until she found a ten-dollar bill.

“Thanks, Mom,” Samantha called. “I’ll let you know if I need a ride home.”

Before Autumn could answer, her daughter had disappeared into the crowd of people and was gone.

Autumn pushed opened the door and walked outside. She thought a deep, cleansing breath would make her feel better, but instead it only reminded her that sometimes the beauty of spring, the hint of flowers riding the waves of air, smelled cloying, overpowering rather than a sign of something new.