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Teens & Young Adult Fiction Contemporary

„You´re a last-minute last visitor.”

“Oh Daisy, you´re in a hurry today?” Mary asked.

“I have to pick up my daughter at the bus station and I don´t want to be late.” Daisy explained.

“Really? Lotus is coming? I haven´t seen her since… I don´t remember.” Mary thought out loud.

Daisy was sprinkling some green plants and sighed: “I haven´t seen her for the longest time either.

“Why, I´ll get out of your way then.”

“Oh no, Mary! That´s not what I meant! Please, you walk through and I´ll finish up here. We can close up and leave together.” Daisy hurried to say.

“You´re such a sweetheart, Daisy.” Mary smiled, “Visiting your shop and walking amongst all these beautiful flowers has always been a secret pleasure to me for years.”

“I think you mean guilty pleasure.” Daisy jumped in, “Especially since you go for ice cream right after.”

“Guilty as charged!” Mary smiled.

“And I enjoyed each and every one of your visits. In fact: on days when you run a little late, I tell my flowers to wait up just a little longer because Mary is coming.”

Both ladies laughed.

Daisy´s shop was indeed a pleasure for the senses and a hallmark on Main Street. Daisy made the most exquisite bouquets and took beautiful artistic pictures in the studio attached to the shop. Over the years she had won many prizes. People from all around would come to visit her flower shop and stroll through her little gallery. Many didn´t have the money to buy anything, but Daisy didn´t mind that. It uplifted their weary spirits, and that was rewarding enough for her. she would give a flower to every girl who came into the store, and sometimes even to a boy, to give his sweetheart.

Tonight, she was going to pick up Lotus. The daughter she hadn´t seen for an eternity. After her divorce years before, Daisy started working as a humanitarian nurse and traveled all over the world. On a rescue mission, she found a baby in a waste dump. The afterbirth was still attached to the newborn. She had picked up the baby and never let go since.

She wasn´t the easiest girl to raise, but there were many beautiful memories, and she never regretted her decision. Lotus was her only child, and she loved her more than life itself.

Daisy hugged Mary and got in her car and drove to the bus station. She was a little early, and she walked around the platforms lost in her memories. She taught of the time where she left her husband, with 20 dollars in her pocket and nothing but the clothes on her back. She once stood on such a platform, waiting for a bus to take her far far away. She was so scared. But to her, it was a matter of survival, and so she had driven off into a new world – and what a world it had proven to be.

Last week she had sent a letter to Lotus in which she had made it clear that she needed to come home because she had to talk to her. not a casual talk, it would be a serious talk. A few days later a very irritated Lotus had called her to ask what this was all about. But Daisy refused to have this conversation over the phone. And in a few minutes, her beloved Lotus would be here.

She waved at Lotus as she got off the bus. 

“I’m so happy you came „Daisy started as she wanted to hug her daughter, but Lotus pushed her away.

“Please mom, don´t get all mushy on me.”

“Can a mother not be happy her daughter finally came for a visit?” Daisy asked.

Lotus took her small suitcase from the driver and followed her mother to the car.

“What was so important that you couldn´t tell me over the phone?” Lotus asked.

“Let´s just drive home first.” Daisy said.

They drove through beautiful sunflower fields as the sun was going setting. The blooms were almost at their height now.

“Remember how people around here would call you little miss sunflower?” Daisy asked. “You never could get enough of them. When we went for a walk, we never got very far, because you had to stop at every flower and admire it and you would usually charm one farmer or another to cut you a few. We always had fresh sunflowers in the house because of you.”

Lotus didn´t answer. She kept staring out the windows.

“Should have called me Sunflower then.” Lotus said very drily.

“I think it´s impossible not to be happy surrounded by all this beauty.”

“The sunset is exceptionally beautiful tonight, don´t you think” Daisy tried, but Lotus just nodded her head as if her mother just pointed out something banal and let out a sigh.

“What´s for dinner?” Lotus asked as Daisy turned into her driveway.

“Oh you´re hungry, that’s good!” Daisy smiled. “I made your favorite!”

“Wait, don´t tell me: spaghetti, meatballs, and sauce with just a pinch of bitter powder chocolate.” Lotus said with a high voice, “I´m no longer twelve, in case you hadn´t noticed.”

“Oh well,” Daisy sighed, “you never told me your palette had evolved. I just wanted to cook you something nice…” she turned off the engine and got out of the car. Lotus followed her mother inside the house and threw her suitcase in the hallway on the floor.

“Can we eat?” Lotus asked, “I´m starving!”

“Sure!” Daisy smiled, she knew Lotus loved that dish, but would never admit to that. “You set the table and I´ll heat it up. I prepared everything last night.”

“That way it tastes even better.” Lotus finished her mother´s words.

“Is there any wine?”

“There´s a bottle of rose in the fridge,” Daisy answered.

Lotus took the bottle and opened it. she poured herself a full glass and emptied it in one go. It didn’t escape Daisy, but she decided not to say anything. Daisy stirred the sauce one last time, then put the food on the table Lotus had so carelessly set.

“Not too much for me!” Lotus jumped in immediately.

“And I thought she was so hungry.” Daisy replied.

“I have to watch my figure. I've been invited to an exclusive dinner, and I have to fit in a dress at all costs.” 

“A dinner? A romantic tete a tete?” Daisy teased. Lotus shrugged indifferently and began to eat.

“Bon Appetit!” Daisy said.

When she finished her plate, Lotus took out her cell phone and checked her messages.

 Daisy gently asked: “Can we talk?”

“Oh, yes, right.” Lotus answered, threw her cell phone on the table, and sat down with her arms crossed. 

“You know the annual sunflower festival is coming, don't you?”

 Lotus sniffed and raised her eyebrows.

“Well, this year, I've been chosen as queen and...”

Lotus didn’t let her mother finish: “Congratulations Your Majesty, please don't tell me I had to come here, to act as a lady-in-waiting.”

“You know what,” daisy said, “we can pick up this conversation in the morning.”

“What? “Lotus continued, “Really? Did I really have to come all the way down here because of a stupid festival?”

Daisy shook her head wearily.

“You know what? I'm going to my room. I have a terrible headache. we'll talk tomorrow morning.”

“Can’t you take an aspirin or something and just tell me what this is all about so I can go home tomorrow.” Lotus protested

“Why? That dinner is tomorrow?”, Daisy asked

Lotus shook her shoulders but didn't answer. She picked up her phone again with an angry gesture and continued reading her messages.

“I´m going up now. I´m sorry. I really need some sleep.”

“Good idea. Beauty sleep for your pageant no doubt.”

“Listen, it’s hard enough to keep pushing myself through that cynical wall of yours, but now you're downright mean.” Daisy`s eyes filled with tears.

Lotus looked up in surprise.

“Good night, Lotus.” Daisy said softly.

 Lotus nodded and went back to her phone.

When Daisy came down the next morning, Lotus was sitting in the garden drinking coffee.

“Good morning, may I sit with you, or do you prefer to enjoy your coffee in solitude?"

Lotus smiled a little crooked smile and gestured with her hand that her mother was welcome to sit next to her.

“I'm so sorry about last night, your flaky attitude got to me. I was tired, that´s all.” Daisy said

“Flaky?” What kind of word is that?”

“Grouchy and irritable. It's a toxic attitude.” Daisy explained.

“If you say so.” 

“There you go again...”

Lotus made a V with her fingers: “peace mother!”

Can I ask you something? Lotus asked

“Sure.” 

“Why did you have to call me Lotus?”

Daisy took a deep breath: “Because it´s a lovely name for a beautiful flower and a precious girl.”

she didn’t like the direction the conversation was going

“It´s a constant reminder of who and what I am.”

“And what might that be?” Daisy sighed

“A child who was good enough to be thrown in a garbage dump.” 

“Listen, I'm too tired right now to get into a philosophical debate...”

“Tired?” Lotus interrupted, "Mom, you just got out of bed!”

“We can continue this conversation later, right now I have something else I need to talk to you about.”

“So, what is it?" Lotus asked impatiently.

“My time here is almost over.”

Lotus looked surprised.

“I have been sick for a long time.”

Lotus couldn´t decide whether her mother was being dramatic or preparing her for something she´d rather not hear. She kept staring at her mother, then suddenly jumped up: “None of that!” she cried angrily. "Stop being weird!"

“I'm sorry honey. Please sit down. I owe you a simple truth of how things are standing.” Daisy said.

Lotus dropped back to her chair.

“I thought you'd be talking about that stupid sunflower queen stuff. What am I supposed to do with this now?”

“It's all right honey. My time has come. That's all. You shouldn't cry or be sad. I wanted you to myself for a few more days. I'm not gone yet.” Daisy smiled.

“Don't be sad! I am grateful for the life I was allowed to live and for the beautiful daughter it gave me.” Daisy tried to comfort Lotus. But her daughter couldn’t stop crying.

“What am I supposed to do with this?” she sniffled, „I don't want this!”

“Come, come, girl. I love you and we are going to spend a few more beautiful days together.”

Daisy took her daughter's hands in hers and smiled.

“Tell me why you need to pay attention to your figure.”

“What?” Lotus blew her nose into a napkin, “Would you rather tell me what's going on please!”

“I have an aggressive cancer and it has spread throughout my body. There is nothing more to do. The doctors tried everything, and I fought as hard as I could. But now I want to spend my last days in a dignified way, preferably with you!"

“Are you in pain?" Lotus asked.

Daisy shook her head.

“Come to the city, we can find a good specialist”.

Daisy interrupted Lotus with a wave of her hand:

“No baby!”

“Who was your doctor? I want to go talk to him.” Lotus said.

“He is a very good doctor and a very sweet person!”

“Sure”! snarled Lotus, “you always see good everywhere”.

“That´s my choice, as to where you choose only to see the bad in everybody. let's not fight now, please.”

“Go take a shower and come for a walk with me. It´ll both do us good, and it´s so beautiful here this time of the year.” Daisy said.

“I think I´d rather cry for a few days!” Lotus said.

“No dear, you don't want that.” 

Lotus got up and went to take a shower. Half an hour later she came down in a nice yellow dress.

“Oh honey, you look so cute!” Daisy said when she saw her daughter. Lotus took her mother tightly in her arms:

“What if I could hold you like this forever?” Lotus mused.

They walked silently through the sunflower fields, hand in hand. Daisy enjoyed it. Lotus kept fighting back tears. So much was going through her mind. She wanted to ask so many questions. Say so many things. But her mother looked so happy; she didn't want to break the spell.

“Can I ask you something, mom? „She finally broke the silence

“How come you never remarried?”

“I never felt the need to.” Daisy answered.

“You didn't miss it?” Lotus asked hesitantly. Daisy shook her head.

“But didn't you... I don't know, miss a romantic...” Lotus stuttered.

Daisy looked at her daughter with a smile.

“I think you mean, an intimate relationship. Since when you became such a prude?”

Daisy´s answer made Lotus a little shy. 

“You don't need a marriage certificate to enjoy intimacy. We are sharing an intimate moment right now.”

“Mom! please!” Lotus yelled

“I´ll never be able to look at you the same way again. We agreed on no more weird stuff!”

“Could it be I´m breaking through that cynical wall of yours?” Daisy smiled

"No more weird stuff!" Lotus insisted.

Daisy giggled: "Okay!"

“You´re always so happy with the smallest of things, lotus said

“I learned never to take anything for granted. I was taken for granted for far too long. One day I woke up and I decided enough was enough. Just because my husband at the time declared me invisible, born for the sole purpose of waiting on him hand and foot, didn´t mean I had to share his conviction. I left! And I vowed right then and there that I would never take anything or anybody for granted.”

“You never talked about him,” Lotus said

“I think back of those years, as in-between years,” Daisy said. “I learned a lot during those shadow times.”

“You don't hate him then, Lotus asked

“No! Daisy answered, "that would only burden me. I learned from him that suffering is a choice- and I chose to walk on the sunny side of the street. “Now tell me more, about that romantic dinner!” Daisy punched Lotus in the side with her elbow.

“Who said it was romantic?” Lotus asked

“Oh, I know you, deary. Somewhere underneath your armor, there is a hopeless romantic. “Daisy smiled. "Waiting to come out!"

The women hugged each other and walked back home.

Lotus got to spend a few beautiful days with her mother. Daisy passed away in her sleep. She looked so at peace when Lotus found her.

Daisy never wanted a traditional funeral with flowers and everything. Flowers are for the living, she used to say. Nor did she want to be mourned. She hoped people would look back in gratitude for the times they got to share, as equally, she was happy to have been part of their lives.

Lotus finally accepted to be the sunflower queen in her mother's stead.

Mary came to help her with the queen’s gown.

"Look, I think there´s a note here for you." she said when a note slipped from between the endless taffeta.

Lotus picked up the little envelope and opened it.

"What does it say, Mary asked curiously

Lotus smiled and read the message from her mother out loud:

I knew you were a hopeless romantic!

The mayor dropped by to hand over the crown Lotus had to wear during the parade.

"Your mother was a very special lady, Lotus!" he said solemnly.

“In order to be a queen, you must be born from one! Live up to it!”

August 10, 2021 11:23

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