Where the Flowers Weep This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

July 25, 2011
The fog twisted around my ankles as I watched the small line file into the church. My throat was still raw from the sobs that crashed through me like passing waves from last night, and I clung to the skin of my neck were a necklace hung just below my collarbones.
“Come on,” I felt someone’s hand wrapped in mine, “it’s time.”

I sighed and then took a small step forward. The lace of my gloves tickled the skin of my knuckles and elbows as I moved my arm through his. The scent of decay and flowers had me stopping in my tracks before I even made it past the threshold.

I looked behind me, thinking about how far it was to run back to my safe room, how many cobble stones I would have to clatter across to make it to the iron gate of my front yard bursting with tulips and vivid roses. Then the thought of the bystanders popped in my head and actually made me smile. The thought of carriages rolling by with the driver jumping in his seat at the sight a girl, no older than sixteen, running down McMallen drive in a black gown. Then I was brought back to the present by the gentle squeeze of my hand.
“Let’s go and get this over with,” Owen said and I looked up into those mossy green eyes.

He came all the way from New York only to wait in the hall trying to talk through my locked door as I sobbed under the covers of my small bed. I remembered how he would knock on the door for hours without stopping until I was so desperate to see someone who reminded me of her that I would open the creaking wood.
“W-why can’t we leave,” I begged as the fabric of my dress brushed the wooden floors of the church, “let’s go for coffee…let’s go home.”

Home. That place would never be a home as long as the pale pink door still stood at the end of the hall.
“Claire,” he sighed and snaked his arm around my waist, “we have to do this.”

I looked at the rows of people, some flipping through a pamphlet that had a picture of a girl with gold hair smiling at them next to the address of a cemetery. The walls were stabbed with red stained glass and I looked at the pictures of angels falling from the heavens, a man with a sword at his side and a beast’s head in his firm grip. At the very end, where the two walls stop at another wall about ten feet wide and twenty feet tall, there was a small wooden box.
“Owen,” I said and grasped his arm that was still around my waist, “I need to sit down…now.”

He looked at me and brushed the blonde hair from his eyes as he searched for an empty seat. My eyes were still locked on the box, and I didn’t have to walk any closer to see what was in it, I already knew.
“Just wait a sec-” but it was too late.

I was backing into the closest wall and sliding down to the floor before he could finish his sentence. The skirt of my dress gathered at my knees, and I looked down at the boots laced over the pale skin of my legs. I placed my head in my hands and let one tear fall across my cheek.
“No, no, no,” I shook my head as I whispered over and over, “n-”
“Clarissa,” I heard a tiny voice next to me.
“Owen where is she…” a deep voice followed the tiny chirp that spoke my name.

I peered from the gap in between my fingers. A woman with ebony curls ending at her shoulders and a crisp look of concern placed a hand on my shoulder. Behind her, a man with hair like the sun tapped his foot.
“Mom,” I said and threw my arms around her neck.
Then I felt the sob choking me but my eyes were dry…I felt so drained.
“It’s okay baby…we’re here,” she stroked my hair and made soothing sounds, “don’t cry darling, we’re here.”

The man with gold hair looked down at me as if I were nothing but a beggar in the streets. I would have thought he would try to spit on me if my mom wasn’t there. I quickly looked away from his eyes that pierced through me. The thought, if looks could kill, ran through my mind as I stared at the stained glass on the walls. Owen walked over and helped me to my feet.
“Hello John,” I said and put my hand out.
He looked at my hand like it was a snake coiled to strike, “Clarissa.”
He nodded, and pulled my mother down the aisle towards a row of seats with reserved signs placed on the red velvet.
“Let’s go,” Owen said and pulled me after them.

I tried to make myself comfortable in the chair, but it felt like I was trying to settle into ice. My legs itched to run out of this crowd and I began breathing in short gasps. We sat there for an hour listening to family members reciting favorite poems or stories, until it was my turn to speak. My mother walked past me with a tear streaked face and wrapped me in a hug before taking her seat again. I felt the warm tears on my shoulder and brushed them away with my finger tips. I stood, with shaking hands, and faced the crowd after I walked up the short steps.
“Hello,” I mumbled, and walked over to the wooden altar to rest my hands on.

I tapped my fingers on the surface of the glossy wood, then I remembered my note I had written. I reached into the rough leather of my boot and pulled out a piece of parchment. It was stained with tears, and I tried to smooth the edges before I spoke.
“Annabelle, was a girl who would light up the room when she stepped through the door. She was the kind of girl you would find playing with imaginary friends in our front yard. She was the kind of girl who had no fear…she went where ever her feet carried her,” I paused, looking at the elegant chandelier as the tears began to swell, hoping the light would push them back into my head.
“Even if it was out our back door she would find the white rabbit in the tulips and follow it into a world of her dreams, the rose buds would turn into soldiers that fight an imaginary dragon coiled in a stone castle. People loved her as soon as she broke their safe bubble of life and splattered it across a canvas of color. She was talented, smart, kind, and brave. I will never forget her, and I am reassured to know that she is at peace.”
I walked over to the wooden box and brushed my fingers on the lid, “I love you, Annabelle.”

After everyone had a chance to speak we packed into the carriages that would carry us down the street to the bury this delicate box. I wanted to rip through the wood and satin and hold her just one more time, to whisper in her ear how much I loved her. But I was pulled out the doors and onto the dirt. My boots scuffing the stray rocks on the path, kicking up dust that trailed behind me in a sober wake. I picked at the edge of the fabric at my knuckles until I was stopped by a wall of people.
“Come on, the family is supposed to be up front,” I heard Owen whisper behind me.

We made our way through the crowd of family and friends so that we could see the polished stone with Annabelle Dawson stenciled on the front. I paused as my mind flooded with the image of Annabelle’s delicate frame being placed in the ambulance.

The sound of her cries still echoed in my mind as she held her head between her sweating palms. She begged me over, and over to make it stop…make it go away, she would scream. The first night it happened I thought it was a bad dream, so I brought her a glass of warm milk and let her drift back into her silent slumber. The second time, her eyes seemed like they were slowly sinking into her skull and I brought her into my room so I could watch over her. The last night, she shook as I called the ambulance and they told me, once she was dead, that an unknown poison was in her system before she passed. They said it seemed like she was burned from the inside.

I was pulled back to the scene of the polished rock and realized everything went silent as a glossy, wooden box was carried on the shoulders of my cousins and their fathers. Aidan, my cousin who looked more like my brother, placed a hand on my arm as he passed with my little sister on his shoulders.

I smiled at him and knew how I must look. Eyes surrounded with shadows, hair a tangled mess of dark brown that ended at my waist, ruffled black dress, and one red rose clasped in my hands, yet somehow…a weak smile tugged at my lips.
“Thank you,” I whispered, and looked down at the ground.

The box was placed on the earth and I saw the metal that would lower the wood into an embrace. The lid was pulled back so that we could see the small figure tucked in the satin.
I closed my eyes, and leaned into Owen, “why does it have to be open?”
“Trust me,” he said, and looked into the box, “you’ll be glad you get to see her one last time.”

The slumbering angel lay across smooth satin; its icy skin dotted with fading freckles. The gold ringlets flowing past smooth shoulders and ending at a delicate waist. With chrysanthemum, pearls, and lavender ribbon twisted into the yellow hair, and a bouquet of flowers clasped in tiny palms, she slumbers.
“I can’t do this,” I whisper through frozen lips.

A smile seems to tug at her lips, but she doesn’t move an inch from her resting spot. She doesn’t open her eyes to show the dusk the cobalt irises hiding behind delicate pink lids, nor does her mouth open with a sweet breath. Her cheeks will continue to stay in place, and not rise from the delicate smile shaping the cupids bow.
“No…” seems the only word I can manage.

The flowers near her lush hair weep, and shed their dew drop tears. The sun slowly backs away, not wanting to see this moment, but unable to pull its flaming eyes away from the shady area. Her dress blinks in the sea of black, the ruffled lilac flowing past her chubby knees, and stopping to brush the tops of the satin shoes fitted to her tiny feet. The flowers continue to leak dewed tears that melt with the salt of her chilled skin.

I take in a deep breath and step forward, my dress ruffling in the cries of the clouds and kissing the sprinkled daisies on the soft tendrils of green. My hair tangles in the whispering, rose-scented wind. I fall, unable to hold myself up any longer, to my knees. The black taffeta ruffling softly around me, I sink into the pool of satin, reaching with a shaking finger to stroke the round face of the slumbering angel. No one says anything as my eyes glaze over with a thick coat of tears, and my head rests on the edge of the wood.
“I love you so much, Annabelle…so, so much,” I felt the sob rising in my throat.

I pull back as my eyes shut and feel the shudder of the metal involuntarily lowering the casket into the earth.
I feel my hands shaking in the grass, “good bye.”

The flowers shake in the wind and the sun is finally able to escape behind the shadows of night. The clouds cries are muted as the sun is tossed in a cobalt sea. The crowd falls in a silent pray and all I can do is watch the clouds melt from white to purple. Tiny pin points of light are spread across the twilight, and the moon creates an icy spotlight on my shoulders. All I can see is her face in the moon’s crescent smile. All I can imagine is the scent she would carry from the garden, like the scent that was blowing past me on the wind.

All I can imagine is a small voice sighing in relief and whispering gently, Goodbye.

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