Flowers for Thought

Submitted into Contest #86 in response to: Write a story where flowers play a central role.... view prompt


Fiction Inspirational Mystery

What is a flower? A seed, a bloom, a blossom, a symbol of happiness, sadness, or love? What flower says goodbye, I will miss you? When asked to pick flowers for her Funeral I didn’t know where to start, she loved Daisies, but no, those were too cheerful, she loved Roses but those were for people in love. A Sunflower? Too happy. 

“Chrysanthemums,” the woman said, “Are the ones used for death, they are the ones that symbolize life from beginning to end.”

I stared at the woman who, matter of fact, told me which flower would represent my Mothers life, with no sympathy, no emotion, just facts. It bothered me that her entire existence would be reduced to this moment, choosing the perfect flowers to lay on her grave.

A hot flush had washed over me and I panicked “Just pick whatever,” I said, 

“Whatever people normally do.” The indecisiveness hurt my brain, and I needed to be anywhere but there with the smell of Lilacs and Lilies. I never thought choosing flowers would be so hard, or important.

“Then we will go with Chrysanthemums,” the Florist replied blankly.

On my walk home it began to rain, that fresh scent of earth filled the air, it was mild out with a musky haze. Spring was around the corner, the grass no longer yellow, a new greenness poked through the dry burnt blades, soaking up the droplets, eager to take over.

That evening I sat on my balcony drinking my tea, my apartment overlooked the park and part of the Downtown strip. I watched people run to their cars as the rain picked up, as puddles grew deeper alongside the curb. I could see the Flower-shop from my view as well, a man fled quickly, shielding the bouquet he held, he wore a long pea coat and fancy shoes, my guess was he wasn’t buying flowers for his Mothers Funeral, my guess was he was meeting someone special, I wondered if he had Roses.

That night my dreams were haunted by Tombstones and Chrysanthemums, black ones with prickly thorns. She was angry with me, my Mother. Why did I choose those? They were ugly, they were sad. I woke up sweating and breathless. The first thing I did was call the flower shop “Hi, I was there yesterday. I can’t have the Chrysanthemums!” I panicked, “Yes that’s right, that’s me.” 

I was placed on hold, I waited.

I went out to my balcony for fresh air, the music on the phone sang loudly in my ear and I had to turn the volume down. My elderly neighbor sat outside too, we waved which was our usual routine, I pulled my housecoat tighter to shield myself from the crisp morning breeze. Still, on hold, I chewed my nail. I watched as she dug around in her flower beds, little boxes she had her son hang over the railing last summer. 

She gently prodded the stems that were growing, she watered, and spread seed. When she noticed me staring she said “Rosemary,” and smiled.

“No, it’s Sarah” I replied.

“Rosemary,” she said again, and I became annoyed. 

I rolled my eyes and said loudly “It’s Sarah, Mrs. Parks.” I’d only lived next door to her for the last ten years.

She shook her head and motioned for me to walk to the edge of my balcony, only separated from her by a few feet. Trying to hide my irritation, still, on hold, I sauntered over to the edge. She pointed to the flower bed, where there was a small bush with needle-like leaves.

I really didn’t have time for this. “That’s very nice Mrs. Parks but I really should get back,” I said pointing in the direction of my sliding door.

“Can’t you see it? Can’t you smell it?” she asked, inhaling the air around her.

What on earth was she blabbering about? I thought to myself, she really had lost it. But her expression towards me now was one of annoyance. “Look closer, Sarah”

I don’t know why I appeased this crazed woman at eight-thirty in the morning but I did, I got as close as I could, curving my upper body over the railing almost dangerously so just so I was able to get a closer look. Sure enough, I saw the bush-like plant, but upon further inspection, I saw the buds of soft lavender-blue petals.

“Rosemary,” she said smiling looking down at the tiny flowers which in fact we're a very lovely sight.

“Oh,” I blundered, “Yes okay, they're very beautiful.”

I’d never seen Rosemary in a garden, usually, I thought of it as a herb you used for cooking, she cut a small sprig off and handed it to me across the way. I grabbed it, instantly flooded with the smell of a woodsy evergreen. I found myself inhaling the aroma of it. 

“Thank you, Mrs. Parks,” I said genuinely

“Rosemary is for remembering,” she whispered so softly I barely heard her


“Yes, a symbol of respect, gratitude, keeping it close will help you remember.” her small eyes creased with kindness

Coincidence I thought. 

“Sarah, are you still there?” the voice on the phone called to me

“Oh, yes I’m here, sorry just one moment.” I held my hand to cover the speaker so I could ask Mrs. Parks to wait, I wasn’t done with our conversation, but when I looked up she was gone.

“Sarah?” The voice echoed again impatiently

“I am here, and I would like to change my order,” I said confidently, “I would like to order Rosemary”

“Rosemary? For the funeral?” The florist questioned

‘Yes that is correct”

“But Rosemary is for--”

“Remembering,” I said interrupting her “For remembering her smile, her voice, her heart, and for honoring her life”

I didn’t care if people would judge, or question my choice in flower arrangements, who can choose what flowers will say the words unable to be spoken, a Carnation says I miss you, a Rose says I love you, and Rosemary says I will remember you, and that is all I wanted her to know.

Alana Avellino

March 20, 2021 03:14

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Holly Fister
12:45 Mar 29, 2021

I love that she chose Rosemary. And I remember how much I hated flowers when my Dad died, they were everywhere, and even though I’d always loved them, they suddenly became a symbol of great sadness and bitterness to me. You captured her emotions very well in this story!


Alana Avellino
13:12 Mar 29, 2021

Thank you!


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