The Lily

I’m sorry this is so sad. I wrote it for Mid-week Blue’s Buster over on The Tsuruoka Files.  It’s what came to mind, and it’s a little heartbreaking. This particular flash fiction site uses music as a prompt. I’d never heard this song, Faded Flowers by Shriekback.

Here’s a video of it, if you’re interested:

And here’s the story:

The Lily
578 words
@laurenegreene

The petals from the lily in the red vase had fallen to the table. Marcie knew she should get up and throw it away, but the lily reminded her of the fragility of life. She could feel the disease spreading through her body like a vine, and when she looked at the flower she thought about the night out with Brooks.

Only a week ago, they had gone out to dinner and it had been just like old times. Before the slammed doors, before the separate bedrooms, before the silence had crept up between them like a plague. Her heart hurt for the way things used to be between them, and that night she had felt a little of the old spark return.

She had planned the dinner. It had been her intention to tell him what the doctor had told her.

“Colon cancer. Metastatic.”

“How long do I have to live?”

And he had just shook his head, and then droned on and on about treatment options. In that moment, she had a desire to set things straight with Brooks. An affair was an affair, right? And she could forgive him for that. We’re only human, she thought.

At dinner, he’d slid his hand across the table and grasped hers, and she felt the long lost flutter fill her with a longing for him she hadn’t felt in so long.  She wanted to go home and crawl into bed with him. She wanted him to hold her tight all night long to comfort her and tell her everything would be alright, even when she knew it wouldn’t.

He bought the flower from the vendor in the courtyard outside the restaurant, one of the petals brushed off into the snow: white on white. And so she thought with the kindness of the night, they would go home and make love. The babysitter would have already put the kids to bed.

But when they came home they went their separate ways. She curled up in the middle of her bed and the tears ran rivers down her pillowcase as she thought about what little time she had left and everything she still wanted to do. She wanted to feel Brooks’ arms around her, she wanted to cuddle into him, but more than that she wanted to fix what had gone wrong in the first place: whatever that was.

So she hadn’t told him, and a week had gone by. She hustled the kids off to school in their winter coats every day and watched Brooks walk out the door. Slowly, the petals began to drop from the flower, one by one, dying as she was.

He came home early one day, and he was shocked to see her there.

“I thought you’d be at knitting club or something?”

“I have something to tell you,” she said.

“I have something to tell you too.”

“You first,” she said.

“I don’t love you anymore,” he said, as he sank into his chair. “I want a divorce.”

She stared at the petals resting on the table. The words stung, but they’d be nothing compared to the words she could throw back at him.

“I’ve been googling.”

“Huh?”

She focused on the flower petals curled up, browned at the edge, laying on the table and did not look at him. The pain in her chest was unbearable.

“I wouldn’t go through the cost of the divorce, if I were you. I’ll be dead in six months anyway.”

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