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THREE STORIES

ONE

It’s not like we could plant flowers in the city, anyhow. Like, you’d see those nature shows or inspirational posters in the counselor’s office where a tiny plant poked its flower up through a crack in the dirty, steaming concrete of the sidewalk and that was supposed to make you feel good.

What they didn’t show you was three seconds later when some asshole stomped on the flower, not thinking about nature or beauty or love, but probably just hurrying home from work to make a sandwich and jerk off on the couch.

Maya wasn’t mine, but I knew she loved flowers. And because I loved her, I did what I could.

“Pose for me, baby,” I told her and she squirmed but said nothing. Maya wasn’t a talker. I made sure of that when I picked her. And I loved her so much that when I found all the floral prints for the hotel room, I put them up while she was at school, knowing she’d be happy when she returned.

I lived to make baby girl happy. She did nothing but bring me joy.

“C’mon, girl,” I told her, but still, she resisted. Stalling, she tried to get up from the bed, but she didn’t get far.

“Maya.” Just her name spoken aloud was enough. Man, I loved that child. She stuffed a pillow into her lap and beamed up at me. That white smile up against those pretty flowers was enough to make my head spin a little bit.

Story by Devon Fulford 

TWO

He hesitated for about 15 minutes. After, he bowed his head and let out a wet sigh. I wanted to sit on his lap and tell him I understood, but I was too eager to find out what was in the room.

When my mother died, my father told me we would have to move. He hated the smell of the fresh morning and the sweet air from the garden behind our kitchen. He hated everything about the house, even the painting I made about the family when I was six; the painting he thought I was too mature to create. Those words continued to linger around my head until I decided to go to art school.

I grabbed the key from his open right palm and run upstairs to my parent’s old room. My father couldn’t really move because he feared my mother’s spirit would remain in the garden. He, a sturdy man from the army, never wished to waste his time with sand. So he would stay, but he would keep everything in their room intact, just the way Ruth left it.

I held the door knob tightly after I unlocked the door. I was not sure what I would feel and whether I would be releasing the only memory of my mother before she ran herself mad to the streets. But I still wanted to know more about her personality.

I heard my father coming up and stood to wait for him so we could go in together.

The room was arranged but not clean. On the floor lay notebooks of different sizes. When I asked my father whether I could read them, he turned away and looked to the bed. It was neatly laid and I thought the color of the bed sheet was too happy. I jumped on the bed to my own surprise and turned around to get a clearer view of the room. Then I finally sat of the bed.

My father looked up at me and laughed: “I told Ruth to change those darn curtains.”

Story by A.A. Ansong

THREE

I don’t like pictures of myself. But I like this one. He took it right before he walked out the door and never came back in.

He told me he was going to leave his wife and we would move to Santa Barbara. We would grow old together. We would have two children, Christina and Byron. We would also get a cat named Alfred. We would paint our house yellow because it reminded me of flowers and, if you couldn’t tell already, I loved flowers. Just like I loved him.

But he already had a family. He already had two children and a blue house. He already had me, but I didn’t have him.

He left and he took it all away, but he left this picture.

When he left, I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I never knew I would be that lonely. I thought I would feel like that forever, but I didn’t. With time, the emptiness went away, the million knives that pierced my heart fell out one at a time. It hurt, yet, it eventually  healed, and all I had left of him was a scar, this picture.

I found it the other day as I was packing up the boxes for San Francisco. I blew off the dust that piled over the years. I saw the picture, I saw me smiling, I smiled. I threw the picture back into the box where it belonged.

I’ve never told my husband this story, I don’t think it matters anymore.

Story by Renata Brockmann

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