Plastic Flowers

By Codi Vallery-Mills

Novices stumble in search of their markers, and fuss over what looks right. The well practiced sit down in silent remembrance.

A husband steps out of his pickup and surveys the sea of plastic flowers and American flags. He grabs his own offering from the cab seat, a small bundle of fragrant yellow roses – her favorite – and walks to his wife’s grave.

He sinks to his knees and presses the cool stone with his hands. He tells her he loves her, the kids are well and work is good. He is staying fed, but he knows she will notice the new holes punched into his belt.

A petal falls and he lowers the flowers to their vase. Elegant and petite they look out of place here in this place of large store bought memorials.

He bends to breathe in their fragrance and pictures her nose buried in them too. He stays awhile longer waiting for the deer to arrive. They always do.

As they begin to slip out of the pines and onto the well-manicured lawns he pictures her there – sitting on her own headstone. He knows she will coax the deer one by one and feed them the fresh rose petals. She was always one to nourish another soul.

He steps back and climbs into his pickup to wait and watch. The sun fades, the roses droop, and the deer move on searching for other morsels. The man shifts his pickup into gear and leaves her there to flourish – in a garden of false blossoms.

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