The Spigot This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

June 28, 2012
She placed her slender, white fingers around the handle, loosened its grip, and held a brown cup beneath it while the water flowed unevenly. The heat seemed to be engulfing her; the humidity, she finally concluded, was the reason she could hardly breathe.

“Stifling,” she explained out loud. “Ridiculous.” The girl blew her bangs off her forehead for a moment with her hot breath, as the cup continued to fill with the rusty-tinted water. Thank God I’m not drinking this, she thought. She was young, seventeen maybe, tall, thin, and average looking; she had a drawn out look in her eyes, a look that told strangers she had been weathered, used even, older than she actually was. Peeling this layer off, her tan skin was evident, her long dark brown tresses even pretty, though she would never admit it. The girl waved her hands back and forth under the stream of water, as it would help cool her entire body; she tried to smile, but the more she tried, the more tears filled her eyes.

“Hard,” she replied, “this is going to be hard.”

Overhead crows flew, squawking at the heat as she wiped the beaded sweat from her nose; she dreamed of air conditioners from the store she had just been in, the department store with the television sets and the radios. All around her gravestones were strewn about; she thought of the families who must mourn the loss of those who lay beneath the glassy black marbled rocks: She marveled at some of the flowers, and held the cup of water close to her chest. She had only brought one rose, one single rose that she had asked the florist to wrap with baby’s breath in cellophane. He had given her a peculiar look upon her request.

“But we just got in this wonderfully new pink and purple paper … purple would complement this rose in a lovely manner.” The florist had tried to convince her, but the girl once again requested the cellophane.

“The rose will be outside,” she tried to explain without being blunt, “out in the sun, in the rain, on the ground.”

The florist was utterly confused, so the girl just smiled as he continued to place the ferns and baby’s breath around the rose.

The girl picked up her rose and the water which now seemed more ruddy than before. She walked slowly to the grave without a stone; there were no markers, only old, decaying flowers, and a few new ones, with even fewer planted firmly into the ground. She had tried to visit this grave so many times before, but could not bring herself to do it, only telling herself that the violent death of this person was hard enough and she didn’t want to be like everyone else, making a shrine out of where her friend wanted to lay to rest.

Eventually, the girl felt guilty, and so she went. There she stood, breathing in the hot air and then expelling it, breathing hard, heavily, nervously, thinking maybe she should talk out loud, maybe she should water the flowers and leave the rose and go. She looked longingly at her car behind her. She wanted to jump in and drive off. She breathed in once more, placed the rose at the head of the grave, and kneeled, her hands clasped tightly, mouth chattering, face sweaty and tears running like spickets down her face. She wiped them away, her body shaking.

“I miss you,” she replied in a voice that was trying so hard not to sound weak. “I miss you so much, and everyone thinks I’m crazy because I miss you that terribly. They tell me to move on with things and I just can’t sometimes.”

Now her words were pouring out like a flooded stream; she found great comfort in once again confiding in her friend.

“They don’t even understand me,” she cried harder, “and they tell me I have no right to be acting like this. I never used to cry so bad … now look at me! The only person who ever understood me is gone … you were the only one.”

She thought maybe now her friend felt guilty, so she gathered herself together and sat up tall. “You left me a lot of people to talk to; your sister, your friend Donna, your mother, the people you work with. But I’m just too busy comparing them all to you. I want to cry to you.”

She didn’t want to say anymore. She was tired, exhausted from the tears, taking in sporadic breaths. She felt relieved to have let out the negative energy, the anger, pain and hurt, finally, it was out. She didn’t have to hide it anymore. She got up and brushed off her knees; they were imprinted with little pebbles, grass and leaves from kneeling. She thought maybe her eyes were red and her white shorts were dirty. She poured the water over the flowers as they drank it up thirstily; the geraniums, the pansies, and some exotic pink flower she had never seen before, with little blossoms and yellow centers.

The rose she left seemed insignificant; she felt like she owed her friend more, but in the florist’s shop, could find nothing else that suited her taste better than a single rose. The girl kneeled once the water was done, said a brief prayer she made up, and said good-bye to her teacher.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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