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Caramel light floods through the window inspiring Oliver to step out onto the porch. Sitting down on a chair, he stretches his legs out in front of him and yawns, happily taking in his surroundings. Birds are talking to each other and Oliver doesn't mind; the world keeps on turning and the sky is changing colour before his eyes. He regrets not bringing his camera out to capture the picture of serenity.
But how can it be serene?
Oliver fears he said this aloud but is too caught up in his thoughts to dwell on it.
How can the blanket of colours be untroubled if it rejects the purples and oranges, the yellows and slices of crimson before it settles with midnight blue to sleep for a while, ignoring the faded blue of day.
Oliver shakes his head and takes a sip of beer, enjoying the taste dance around on his tongue. He lets his head tilt backwards and his eyes stay firmly focussed on the bird that taps rhythmically with its beak. Some would call the sound unforgiving, but as the bird continues to drum with a staccato feel, Oliver continues to be calm. Like the thoughts in his mind, the beat thuds over and over again. The bird simply confirms his tranquillity.
Then something that is partially a miracle and partially the least comforting happening since that day, happens.
He sees a slender pale yellow leaf peaking around the corner of his house. Scrambling to his feet he can see the perfect picture of his wife in his mind: "Chrysanthemums are wild flowers and do you know why they're my favourite, Olly?" Her deep blue eyes, the colour of the sleeping night's sky had searched his face. "Because they're a bit different and they're caring too, and they can be a plethora of colours." She was ten when she'd said this to him. On the day of their wedding a red chrysanthemum smiled out of Oliver's top pocket and as she walked down the aisle, she had white and red ones throughout her hair - fake ones, of course: "Olly, we can't pick them or buy them from a shop because that means they will soon die. I don't want them to die."
Reaching the leaf, Oliver kneels down to find that the flower wasn't peaking around the corner of his house but trapped under the wheelbarrow he'd placed there a few days before. Panic rising through him, he lifts the wheelbarrow and cradles the chrysanthemum in his hands. A picture of devastation, the flower droops and smiles sadly back at him.
Defeated, Oliver sits back down. He places the flower on his lap and watches the sky that is mostly dark blue now. He can't hear the bird tapping. His mind is silent. His mind is loud.
His mind forces him back to nineteen years ago when he and his wife were only twelve. She had just had her ears pierced and wore silver doves on them. She kept stroking her ears that day, grinning at the feel of them, and, although Oliver had scowled at her when she did, "Stop. You'll irritate your ears," and though he couldn't help his irritation be made clear, years later, he told her that it was that day when he saw a bit of the woman she was to become. It was the day he knew for sure that he would always love this golden-haired, dress-wearing, small-eared beauty. It was that day when she gave him wings to fly to a world better than the one he had known before.
Oliver strokes the petals of the chrysanthemum and one crumbles in his hands before his eyes. His mind falters and he could have sworn he was back in the car on that night; the car losing grip beneath him, helplessness and panic paralysing him while he watched the car give up, and his wife too.
At the funeral Oliver scattered chrysanthemums - fake chrysanthemums, naturally - over the top of his wife's coffin; after weeks of denial, this was the day when the drumming had accompanied him everyday, everywhere he went.
Looking back at the flower as a tear burns his cheek and the night's sky bores into him, Oliver mutters, "Damn wheelbarrow."
♥ ♥ ♥
Chrysanthemums & Birds,
The Girl in the Moonlight.
P.S. You can check out my last short story HERE, if you wish!