Pretty Corpses

Ava Tracy

I was young and the summer air was hot and heavy, so hot you would be showered in warmth the minute you stepped outside. Too hot to stand on the concrete bare-foot, so you had to find cool patches of shade to protect your burning toes. Not even the grasshoppers dared to touch the sizzling cement. The creek would run cool against my fingertips, tempting me to submerge myself in the refreshing flow of water, so clear I could see every piece of moss that hugged the creek floor. Crickets would hum their tune all afternoon, filling my ears with summer songs.

Each summer day my tiny hands would find themselves gripping my neighbor’s flowers. Daffodils, irises, bluebells, snapdragons, and my favorites, tulips. I could never resist the soft, enticing touch of each petal. I’d pull them up from their soil beds, freeing them from their earthy prison, keeping them in plastic bottles filled with water.

I would cut their time in half, in quarters, making their life spans far too short. I would never understand why they wilted when I had given them a loving, cozy home next to my window. But like clockwork, they’d die every time. Over and over again, flower after flower, looking longingly out my window as they withered away. If you stepped into my room and looked to your left, you’d see them, corpses piled high.

What once were vivid, beautiful flowers now dwindled into brown. They’d throw themselves over my window sill, weeping. Their tears fell in the form of faded petals, heaping on my oak-wood floor. My mom would throw them out, as I mourned each fragile stem.

Soon, fall would come, suffocating my neighbor’s flower beds with shades of gray, eating away at each petal. Snow and rain would drown them out, after a while, the only things left were weeds. I didn’t want to keep weeds next to my window, that spot was reserved for the spring. All winter long I dreamed of sweet, white daisies; frosty, blue cornflowers; soft, pink begonias; bright, vibrant poppies.

As my garbage bin served as a mass grave for what once were beautiful flowers, the sweet smell of death would fill my nose, plaguing the air. An aroma of what once was. A constant reminder that I, with my own hands, had taken a piece of beauty from this world.

I would look at them, roses, in all their crimson glory. Then, tulips, with their childlike perkiness, a quick moment of youth playing in my head, their leaves thrusted towards the sky in hopeful prayer. How could a single person, a child, be capable of taking away such a paramount emblem of life? How was that fair?

As I matured, I remembered myself mourning their withering deaths. When I would see them again, although it tested my patience, I would kneel down and admire their aggressive cheerfulness, with each petal singing to the sweet, morning sun. My hands would grip their stem, ready to capture their delicate beauty, but I would refrain. Whether it was the way they looked like a song, or the way they displayed themselves, as if shy, not understanding their own beauty.

Whatever it was, there wasn’t a single part of me that could bring myself to force their last breath. It never did me any good to simply sit and watch a flower die.