Jul 31
fiction challenge: Scorcher
Yellow Sweater's picture

The Broken Flower

The city smelled like sunlight; that odd airy mix of dust and nothing else. It was hot. The cement made it hotter. Buildings lined the street. Their baroque facades rose above the carefully trimmed trees. In the windows of the upscale boutiques, models wore clothes unsuitable for the violent heat. I flopped down on a bench, panting in my shorts and tee-shirt. I looked at the tree that was growing beside me. Its leafy arms weren’t long enough to provide any shade. I sighed. In a single monumental movement, I heaved myself to my feet. I trudged forwards; onwards to the park.  

The pond was muddy. The swans seemed affronted by the filth. At least the grass was green. I took off my sweaty shoes and let my toes dig themselves into the freshly watered lawn. I Leaned my back against a tree. This one was less sculpted. But unlike the bench, the flowers planted by its sides were not native. I picked one of the yellow tulips. Why was it not dead? I asked myself as the flower wilted. Its head snapped, dangling at an awkward angle. I held it for a while, not knowing what else to do with a broken flower. The park was so clean. 

It was hot, deathly hot. My hand still clutched the flower. I regretted not bringing a book or at least something, something else to hold. The flower’s stem was wet where the bend had turned into a break. I crushed the fibers with my fingernails. Summoning my last morsel of energy, I looked up. Then, slumped against the tree, my head falling to my chin; broken or maybe just rusted. Alas! I have a longer warranty than the flower. 

As I sat, incapasited, a girl wandered by. Her steps were slow, but not plodding. Her face was flushed, but her eyes were alert. She walked along the path. I wondered how she resisted the entrancing pull of the grass. How could she bear the dust and her shoes when the refreshing green was so close?  I thought about calling out to her, but I couldn’t force my mouth to form a greeting. I figured if a simple hello was beyond me, it would be best to avoid a full conversation. She walked on and soon she was just a shape, a memory. I looked down at my flower. It was much more real. I thought about crushing it, scattering its petals. But the possibility was too distant. I was too lazy.   

Eventually I got up. It took awhile; maybe ten minuets, maybe an hour, maybe three. But I made it to my feet. I made it back to my apartment, back to the baroque facades and the cement. I climbed my stairs with heavy feet, then settled on my couch with a cup tea. The heat retreated at dusk. As I lay in my bed defeated, I dreamt about the flower. I dreamt I was the flower. But I am not the flower. I am not the flower. I am not the flower. And she was not the flower. The girl who walked by was definitely not the flower.