Nobody Told Me Flowers Scream

by | Dec 12, 2023 | Fiction, Issue Thirty-Six

A car drives past my bedroom window blasting ‘Return of the Mack’ and I just — feel so jealous. I’m in the dark with my newborn who has finally let sleep win, lives going by outside like carriages on a Ferris wheel, luminous and swinging with adrenaline. On this side – my side – life is stopped but hearts still beat. I checked. 

My breath releases but a spool of something remains in my chest. I don’t know if the baby latched on this time or got any milk. A pearl of it drops as I change into pyjamas. Saturdays past, I might have been wriggling into something sheeny, a tumbler of cherry wine half-slurped on the side. Now, I’m lying in fuzzy blankets with my tailbone elevated, tears sliding sideways from closed eyes.

I sit up, ask the internet if it gets better. When? Hunched over my phone in the blue-green night, I look like one of those anglerfish found in the deepest ocean – that’s what my husband tells me. Which I might laugh off if I wasn’t exhausted, if he even existed, if I wasn’t doing all of this on my own.

But I’m not alone, am I?

I eat lemons for lunch, ghost peppers at dinner, to convince myself the wet in my eyes and the sharpness in my throat are caused by something other than fear. Because that’s all I’ve felt since life was handed to me in a soft curl. Fear for my swaddled soul, sleeping next to me. 

I can’t sleep. I haven’t been able for weeks. My tired eyes twist things – thoughts and objects. Shadows burn into the walls like the writhing patterns in devoré velvet. The carpet is a bed of flowers, grown from breastmilk – daffodils and screaming pansies. The whole room is screaming, asking me why. Why did you do this? 

The answer: I wanted to be loved like sunlight, to be someone’s faithful orb. But love leans heavier on my side. And it’s painful and terrifying and I’ve shed so many skins to get here. Here, on this ghost train, in a starless field – this little being whom I love in absolute, my nucleus, and a mother I was so sure I wanted to be.

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