Introduction: Dead Flowers is in the same series as ‘The Brautigan stories‘. Each story is set in England and is about episodes in my English life. (Please click on pages 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 below for additional stories.)
1. Dead Flowers
She’d laid the little posy of dead flowers on some stone steps that led up to the garden lawn; nearby, the dying forget-me-nots; beyond, the fallen petals of the bright orange poppies.
The dead flowers reminded me of something. They lay on the stone steps – serious, leaden and so very earnest – pointing north; the stems broken; red colour drained – all leached away; the leaves buckled and twisted.
Yes, they reminded me of something …
The dead flowers reminded me of bodies laid out, of dead bodies: the long stems for the parents, the short for the children and the tiny for the little babies.
Last night they had shown the freshly dead of the latest massacre somewhere in the near east. And that reminded me, too, of other massacres; Srebrenica came to mind.
They reminded me of the little mouse that a neighbour’s cat had left to die on the garden lawn. I had found the mouse, its head stained blood-red from two wounds bitten into its skull. The mouse was still breathing but I saw its eyes staring – black and gleaming; sightless beads. Then the mouse had made one huge effort to move – perhaps to run – but its back was broken. I had to kill it immediately.
The posy of dead flowers – lying there – helpless as memories – fragile as memories – fading, fading away. The dead flowers left lying – until thrown any-old-how onto the compost heap. And quickly forgotten.
They make me wonder if I will be quickly forgotten.
And that makes me smile because I know that out of all the countless lives, then, now, and those to come, out of all the countless lives, there is no good reason why I should be remembered.