Short Story Competition

‘Mummy, which flower?’ by Divya Karippail (Year 11)
I remember. She was walking. Not as one would usually walk, her eyes were closed and her robes were fluttering in an invisible breeze. Her ink-black lashes formed crescents on her cheekbones, her blood-red lips were parted slightly in what could have been a smile or a grimace. Royal purple silken robes, encrusted with an array of gemstones danced out behind her. Hidden eyes, hidden lies. Tugging on her robes, running to keep up with her was a small girl, no more than twelve, no less than eight. Her pearl-grey eyes looked up at the woman, her blond locks fell in waves around her. They moved through the garden, bare feet pressing into the springy moss. The flowers around them bloomed in the hundreds, the thousands. Roses, camellias, honey blossoms, lavender. Hyacinths, orchids, lilies and jessamines. The fragrance that filled the air was sweet, so sweet it was sickening. The woman never slowed, never hesitated. She moved on as if guided by an unseen hand. As she passed, blossoms leaned to her, in an unspoken plea. But she took no notice. “Mummy, which flower?” the girl asked, her high voice full of question, her grey eyes full of innocence. The lady kept walking as if she had never heard. The girl, however, in her youth grew distracted and curious, her eyes travelling to a particularly lustrous marigold, it’s golden petals deepening to crimson. She left her mother’s protection and reached out to touch the blossom. The flower quivered slightly under her caress.

Her eyes rolled back, and terrible images flashed through her mind. Marigold. The shriek of a woman, watching her beloved tumble off a cliffside. Hyacinth. The agonised groan of a father clasping his daughter’s body, as blood seeps from a gash in her side. Acacia. A boy sitting by his mother’s bed, tears slipping down his face, glancing at the empty bottles. Each flower, another memory. The girl’s eyes returned to normal and she whimpered, some of the innocence lost from her eyes. She ran back to her mother, seizing her robes once more. The woman gave no sign that she noticed, but kept walking. Further and further mother and daughter walked into the garden, more and more blossoms came into view, each glowing with their own deadly beauty. They came in pastels, pale peach, baby pink, robin’s egg blue. They came in darker hues, crimson red, emerald green and sapphire blue. Each was more attractive, more alluring than the last. Finally, they stopped. Her eyes flew open, and the girl peeked her head shyly from behind her mother’s robes. The woman’s eyes were ice blue, so pale they were almost white. They should have been stunning and filled with beauty, but everything was overshadowed by the tortured look within them. They contained pain, such exquisite pain. One could almost drown in it while looking at them. They had stopped by a rose. The only one on the plant, it was the purest of blacks. It’s petals shone so brightly, looked so satin-like, that it had to be fake. The rose emitted a poisonous glow, and its aura spoke of only pain and suffering. The woman looked and sighed.

I think back to walking through the garden, hands grasping at my mother’s robes. I remember.