Where have all the flowers gone?

Every year for the past twenty, Amy tilled this spot and sunk the seeds into the soil.

For those two decades, the sunflowers refused to grow and the plot remained barren and unkind. She was bitter at the poetic injustice of it all, but each year she planted and waited.

“Are you going to try it again?” he asked. Amy looked up to find David standing over her. The Sunday sun accentuated the hopeful look in his kind eyes–the look that sickened her stomach and filled her heart with disdain and guilt all at once. She was tired of his face and spent most days wishing he’d go away.

She lunged at the hard dirt with her trowel and became impatient and staccato in her response, “Yes. Why wouldn’t I?”

She knew he hurt, too. So what? She pushed him away and rejected inner pleas that begged for closeness.

Amy continued with the wretched task and sent barbs of silent resentment to the man who had done nothing wrong except love her. Loved her in spite of and because of the unthinkable loss they shared.

There was no one to blame, so Amy blamed David. Blamed him for the sun rising in the morning and resented him for giving her a baby girl who was taken away too soon. Cursed him for still loving her and hated him because the damned sunflowers wouldn’t grow.

She clawed at the dirt and at some point, David walked away. His wish that she might love him back had long been forgotten. Now he yearned for her peace and prayed that the flowers would grow and bring some semblance of joy.

They spent that summer at opposite ends of sanity. She buried herself in mindless, solitary tasks and he disappeared every morning into the corners of the property they bought together as newlyweds. Days then were spent breathless and plastered together. Days now were spent apart and nights even further.

At first, she didn’t pay any attention and welcomed the time away from his prying, loving, worried eyes. But her curiosity grew as minutes away became hours. Some days he didn’t come back until after the sun had already set.

She was intrigued. And softened.

David loved the daily escape and pretended to miss her less as each moment turned to the next. Someday, he’d let her in on his secret, but until then, he’d keep his solitary peace and delightful gift to himself.

It was midafternoon on a Monday that Amy rose from her yard work and wandered over to what was supposed to be the sunflower patch. Not even a sprig. Just a somber headstone.

“Amy!” a soft voice called. It came from the woods and she was drawn to the familiar, masculine warmth and excitement.

She walked to a clearing and entered through a narrow path that was just wide enough for one person.

“Is this where David goes?” she wondered. It was the first time in years he had spontaneously entered her thoughts.

“Come here, Amy,” the voice repeated. She followed the path until she was face to face with David.

“See what I found, my love?”

He was standing among hundreds and hundreds of 6-foot stalks of buttercream blooms.

“How? What?” She collapsed to her knees, struggling for words and clarity and moments later found herself returning David’s reach for her hand.

“Birds,” he laughed. “It must be the birds! They have been stealing your seeds and planting them here.”

Amy surveyed the huge expanse of sunflowers and melted into his eyes full of loving light and understanding. Every variety of seed she’d ever purchased was standing before her in crowning glory. Buttery petals blocking out the sun all while reaching for the rays.

Little Becka, Giganteus, Stella Gold

“It’s Joy’s sunflower patch!” Amy’s voice whispered a truce as sparkly tears clung to her lashes.

“I know, Baby. She’s been growing her own for years. Just waiting for us to find her.” And each other.

Amy felt David’s arms tighten like a protective suit of armor around her small, broken heart. She didn’t run away this time.  The smile that used to break her spirit, now renewed it. She saw Joy in his face and, for this moment, felt as close to happy as she could ever hope for.

 

Embed from Getty Images

 

****

Written for the Yeah Write #170 Summer Challenge Series. In fact, if you are interested in honing your own skills, head over there now and get signed up for the whole summer. This week’s challenge focuses on conflict with the optional prompt, “Where have all the flowers gone?”

600 words: non-fiction

750 words: fiction

42 words: gargleblaster

Even though the baby names are different, this was written (accidentally) as part 2 to A Siren’s Sadness.

Happy writing, friends!! xo

 

 

 

 

39 thoughts on “Where have all the flowers gone?

    • Thank you so much!
      So odd…the story wouldn’t go away. Even though it changed a few times, the core never did. I’m learning to ‘let go’ and let the characters lead me to the right spots. I also read a spot on Ned’s Blog (last Friday) about dialogue and characters. He mentioned that it’s so easy to write about characters who are you and that makes them less than 3D. Writing about characters who are not you make it more interesting for everyone.
      I’m having real fun with this…might even play with the Golden Shovel concept. There’s a cool new song out by Kacey Musgraves that fits.
      Thank you for your kind words…you know they mean the world to me–AND, honest critique is always welcome, too. I’m a big girl 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I believe I’ve found my favourite this week. I love how you’ve turned the story around the represent hope after the loss of a child. I can’t even being to fathom what parents go through after a loss that deep.
    This is a beautiful piece.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh my goodness! Thank you so much for your kind words.
      Like you, I couldn’t imagine losing a child. In fact, I’m not sure why this theme keeps emerging in my writing and hope that it sounds authentic and true. Thank you again!!!

      Like

  2. This DOES sound authentic and true! Such a beautiful, touching piece. I think maybe just having kids allows a writer to tap into the anguish of losing one. I love the way this turned out and the fact that they find their way back to each other.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so so much! I think you are absolutely right. I would never pretend to know how horrible this feels, but being a parent always has me wary of that horrible pain. Especially as I find myself clear across the country and away from my kiddos tonight. Thank you again for your kind words..it means the world! I know that you have something wonderful for me to read, too. I hope to get caught up on my reading during work breaks tomorrow 🙂

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  3. I like happy too. I was nervous when I started reading. I was not in the mood for sad, but I honestly couldn’t stop. I was drawn in by the colors and the distance. I loved the weight of her husband’s voice. Just as my nerves started to ease, I could feel where you were going. It wasn’t predictable, it was where I wanted to go too. Really lovely. “As happy as she could ever hope to be.” That’s an authentic happy ending for two people that have lost their light. That detail, understanding, seems so important in a story like this. Keeps it from being schmaltzy. Well done, you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh my goodness! I know what you mean! I’m never in the mood for sad and I was writing sad?!?! What’s wrong with me, right?
      Anyhoo, I’m glad that you liked the ending and seriously…your story has been on my mind all day. You know I loved that, too 🙂

      Like

    • Hi Jennifer,
      You are always so kind and my blood pressure immediately drops when I see your little lantern gravatar. I use flowers for my own healing some days and thought it might work for my characters, too. Thank you so much for picking up on that nuance. You’re a gem!
      Michelle

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  4. This is such a poignant and moving story. And it does have conflict – Amy’s internal conflict and the conflict between her and David’s mismatched emotions. Beautiful resolution! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Love the metaphor of the fields and Amy’s sorrow, Michelle. You wrote well about the joy and the change in tone when they found the sunflowers. One note: be careful of listing adjectives. For instance, in your sentence “Amy felt David’s arms tighten like a protective suit of armor around her small, broken heart” the adjectives feel like they’re getting in the way of your image. Protecting is kind of armor’s thing, so that adj probably isn’t necessary. And you’ve previously established that Amy’s heart was broke. Plus contrasting the size of Amy’s heart to the size of a suit of armor is a much concise image.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Nathan! I am so appreciative of your constructive and accurate feedback. In fact, that line didn’t pass my litmus test and triggers me to learn and remember. Thank you!!

      Like

    • Thank you so much, Jen!
      I’m so eager to read all the Yeah Write posts I haven’t had time to yet. Such a great prompt and a kind community of supporters. I appreciate your sweet words 🙂

      Like

  6. Awwwww. It is a joyful ending! yes! You’ve done a fantastic job with the shifting tension between these two — I envy that: she’s blaming him, he’s trying to not love her, back and forth. (And I can completely relate to the sunflower drama…I planted at least 20 seedlings and only have one left to show for it.) Well done, Michelle. So glad you posted this. ❤

    Like

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