A Dearth of Dried Flowers


Karla looked across her former workspace at the scattering of dried and once-fresh flowers and assorted scraps of paper. Everything in the tiny closet of a room was exactly as she’d left it eighteen years ago, as far as she could tell. She reached out a hand and caressed a petal as it crumbled to dust, and a tear slid down her cheek.

Running away had been her best choice, her only choice, but that didn’t mean that it didn’t hurt. That didn’t mean she didn’t grieve for the family that might have been. The fairy tale that everyone else had.

She was thirty-two now, and happily pursuing art two states away, but of course there was no one else to come clean up the mess when her grandmother died. Karla didn’t know her parents’ names; she’d lived with her grandmother and her uncle until she was fifteen and couldn’t take it anymore.

The years of agonizing psychological torture seeped from the walls like a greasy stain. She hadn’t been surprised when her uncle shot himself when she was nine, and she hadn’t been surprised when her grandmother forced her to clean up what was left of him after the body was gone. There was no funeral. Grandmother scoffed at the unnecessary expense.

Even now, after so many years of therapy, Karla was amazed that the younger version of herself had enough personality left over to spend collecting wildflowers, carefully pressing them, and gently decoupaging them into beautifully individual greeting cards. The box still waited patiently under a single folded bath towel.

Grandmother must have deemed cleaning out this room another unnecessary expense. She probably never set foot in it again when Karla never came home from school that Friday afternoon.

Karla knew on the drive here that opening any other doors in the house would be an unnecessary expense from her bank of emotional stability. Without touching anything else in her room, she closed the door behind her and retraced her steps back to the front porch. She sat down down the stairs and pulled out her smartphone to begin googling local liquidators to clean the entire house out. Anyone who would accept the contents as a fee would be acceptable. Karla didn’t need a single thing.

Her second phone call was profitable enough; he promised to be there within the hour. Karla reminded him that she would be leaving in exactly one hour, and he reiterated his promise. She hung up, and prepared to watch the sun set as she waited.

It was only twenty minutes before he arrived, and Karla walked to the street and handed him the set of keys. He stuttered, holding his hands up in refusal. “Don’t you want to do a walkthrough with me so I can give you an estimate?”

She met his confusion with a shake of her head. “No, thank you, it’s fine. I don’t need any money, I just want to be done with everything here.”

He was even more taken aback at that, and rifled through his pockets to offer her the $481 cash he found. She took it.

“The house is yours too. If you need me to sign anything, you have my number, but the deed should be in one of her filing cabinets, along with the receipt for every single item in there. Good luck.” Karla began to walk away, but paused to ask one more question. “Where’s the nearest bar?”

He pointed down the street. “There’s one about a mile down there. Just take a left on Third Street.”

“Thanks,” she nodded.


Under the Stars Tonight

We didn’t set the tent up tonight; there weren’t enough bugs to make a difference here, and the stars went on for a million miles.

“The sky is so much bigger here,” she whispered as she snuggled deeper into her sleeping bag. “I never want to go home.”

I didn’t reply. There was nothing I could say. She knew as well as I did that we had to go home one day, and one day would come much sooner than either of us wanted. I reached over to rest my hand on her arm through the sleeping bag. It was a little chilly for my bare skin, though, so I squeezed and returned my hand to my own sleeping bag.

Maybe the tent would have been a good idea after all, but oh, the stars were so beautiful. Scattered across the sky above us like ten thousand conflict diamonds.

I listened to her soft, even breathing as she slipped away into sleep. It blended perfectly with the starscape above us, and the fresh air smell perfected the scene. I realized that I really didn’t want to go home. Like, ever.

Maybe we didn’t have to. We could live out here forever. Forage, live off the land. We could do it. We didn’t have to go home.

But it was only August, and we already needed our sleeping bags. We couldn’t possibly survive a winter out here unprotected, and we sure didn’t have either the time or the know-how to build a shelter before the first snow.

But maybe if we moved further south we could do it.

Except, if we decided to do that, we’d have to find a phone somewhere. Because one of us would have to tell Mary.


Cold and Shoeless

The first time Eric ran away from home it was a reaction; he didn’t take the time to plan for anything. He even forgot to put his shoes on in his rush to just get out. He vowed that when he went back, he wouldn’t make that mistake again. If. If he went back.https://theblogpropellant.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/sleeping-boy.jpg

Sandra cried herself to sleep that night, worried sick about her son. She hoped he would come home soon, and all in one piece. It was the not-knowing that made it so bad; she wished she had some way to find out that he was alive.

Picture Prompt #31