#38 The Flower: Part 1
Thank you for sticking with me to my thirty-eighth publication! Please check out some of my recent stories:
For free fiction, click here and here.
#38 The Flower: Part 1
The doorbell rings at around 3:20 in the afternoon, right in the middle of The Last Hero Of Our Time, the Channel 5 drama from 1983 I’ve been watching every afternoon. Lizzie, my carer, goes to get the door for obvious reasons: I’m unable to walk, and the afternoon’s are often the hardest times to do anything. And, of course, while she’s here, she does try and do as much as possible to make my life easier, for which I am grateful.
She comes in, to both our surprise, with a great big cardboard box between her arms.
‘It seems you’ve got a parcel,’ she comments.
‘It does look that way.’
‘Did you order anything?’
‘I don’t think so.’
‘How strange. Shall we open it?’
‘Yes, of course. Is it heavy?’
‘Not really, no. Lighter than it looks.’
‘Is it addressed to me?’
‘It doesn’t seem to be addressed to anyone. There’s no label.’
‘Who delivered it?’
‘No one, it was just on the steps when I opened the door. No one around to lay claim.’
Lizzie puts the box down on the bed beside my legs. ‘Would you like to do the honours?’
‘I’ll get the scissors.’
Thanks for reading Story Press! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
Lizzie leaves the room and I stare at the box and I don’t know why, but I get the feeling this is important somehow. Like this marks a change.
When she returns, I slice the tape from the box and its walls fall away, leaving in the middle only a tall pot full of soil, with a singular stem reaching up to a wide and open flower head.
‘Oh my…!’ Lizzie exclaims. ‘It’s beautiful.’
‘It really is.’
The flower is like none I’ve ever seen before. It’s got yellow petals shooting out around it, interwoven with red petals that fade to black. It has wrapped shoots of blue in the middle, circling a bed of black seeds. The light from the window peels in and refracts through its petals, giving it an almost electric glow.
‘I’ve never seen anything like it.’
‘What kind is it?’
‘How am I supposed to know?’
Lizzie clicks her fingers, ‘You know, my son told me about this app you can use to identify flowers. Hold on, I downloaded it last month.’
She rifles through her bag and pulls out her phone, and then with a few flicks of the fingers and taps here and there, she holds the phone up and points it at the flower.
‘Any luck?’ I ask.
‘It doesn’t recognise it.’
‘Interesting… Is there a note in the box, a message?’
Lizzie lifts the flower up delicately and examines the space around it. Nothing.
‘How bizarre… What is this all about?’
‘Nevermind that, how lovely it is. Let’s put it over here on the table by the window, where it’ll get some sun. And don’t worry about looking after it. I can water it... There,’ she says, placing the pot down on the table, ‘doesn’t she look wonderful?’
Lizzie leaves the room to get a cup of water and I’m left with the flower. We stare at one another, and I wonder what it wants. I feel as though it’s looking at me.
When Lizzie returns, she finds me out of bed and in my wheelchair.
‘Oh,’ she lets out uncontrollably.
‘I’d like to water it, if you don’t mind.’
‘Not at all. Here you go.’
She passes me the cup and I approach the flower. I reach the cup up to the edge of the flowerbed and tilt it towards the soil. As the water spreads out and then sinks into the soil, the flower reaches up to the sky as though given with a new lease of life.
I look up at Lizzie and we both smile at it. ‘How lovely,’ Lizzie exclaims, and a ray of light peels through a cloud and the flower glows like a kaleidoscope.
Lizzie checks her watch, ‘Just about 4pm, it’s time for me to go. Are you alright? Do you need anything else before I leave?’
‘No, no, you go on. Thank you for your help today.’ I don’t know why but the prospect of Lizzie leaving seems like such relief. I usually want her to stay to keep me company, but today, at this moment, she feels almost stifling. A part of me too feels a desire to be left alone with my flower. Like I can have more enjoyment for myself if I don’t share its company.
Once she’s left, I switch back to The Last Hero Of Our Time and continue watching. After a while, I find myself glancing over at the flower. I don’t know how else to describe it, but I feel the flower’s presence in the room. I almost wonder what it’s thinking and feeling, as if it’s possible it can do those things.
Not long after, I sink into a dreamless sleep and when I wake up, it’s pitch black outside. The lamp is still on on my bedside table and the flower is standing tall by the window. I sit up in bed and the sleepiness falls away from me and I suddenly feel quite awake.
In fact, not only do I feel quite awake, I feel like I have a ball of energy to expel. Without much thinking, I lift the covers off me, reach one foot down to the floor followed by the other. My weight is still on the bed, but I push myself off and stand on both feet. At first, I have to hold onto the rail at the bottom of my bed, but then I let go and stand on two feet.
This is the first time I’ve stood in nine months. I lift one foot and push it forward, and it falls clumsily like a sack of bricks, and then I do the same with the other foot, and before I know it, I’m standing where there’s nothing nearby to hold onto.
For whatever reason, I start to laugh hysterically, and then I look at the flower by the window, which glows in the nightlight, and I stumble gracelessly around the room and then back to my bed.
For the first time in nine months, walking again seems entirely within my grasp. I turn over and flick off the lamp and stare across the room at the flower reaching tall into the darkness.