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Petals For Rose This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Her hands, spotted with age, shook as she bent her arthritic knees and placed the dying daisy on a young woman's grave. She mumbled to herself, carrying on a conversation with someone only she could see, as she left the pristine tranquillity of the graveyard and stepped out onto the dusty city streets. Even the change from peaceful silence to the violent sounds of horns honking and screeching brakes did not break her spell, as she continued to walk in complete oblivion through the city. As she passed the corner newsstand, she caught a customer's interest, who proceeded to ask the owner if he knew her. "Yeah, I've seen her 'round here for at least thirty years now. All she does is put flowers on graves, all year long. She's gotta be pretty old by now, but she always looks sorta young. Maybe 'cause of all those crazy flowers she wears in her hair. My wife and I call her Ophelia, but I kinda wish I knew her real name," was his reply.

As she continued to wander through the city, the streets became dirtier and the shadows deeper. Unidentifiable growls and snarls came out of the alleys as steam rose from the sewer grates.

A young boy, no more than fifteen years old, with tangible anger and fear mixing in his deep brown eyes, walked as if confused by the flower-adorned woman in front of him. His natural wariness of all mankind was outshone by his tenderness for this woman who had so lovingly placed flowers on his mother's grave, which he himself was unable to approach. He shook his head violently, as if to shake free his own thoughts and memories, and, leaving the woman, started back to the empty warehouse he now called home.

As he settled into the corner of the warehouse where he kept his meager belongings, he began to think about the circumstances that drove him to this desolate place. Seeing again in his mind the leather-adorned teenagers, probably his age, but definitely bigger, coming out of the alley, and hitting and ... trying to put these thoughts out of his head, he started thinking about the flower woman, and why she was so secluded from the world around her. She too turned inside herself as much as he had, although in a different way. What was her story? He fell asleep to the sound of the rain and his questions quietly plunking, unforgotten, on the rusting tin roof.

As the days and weeks went by, he started to follow her, although he didn't know why. He trailed behind her every day into the silent cemetery, always remaining hidden, but constantly watching her, as she placed flowers on all the graves except one. It was small and made of bright, white stone which seemed to shine in any weather. The boy was constantly drawn to see who this grave belonged to, but it would have meant losing the flower lady, and that was something he would never be able to bear. She became his guidance; his will to live came only from protecting his precious flower lady. As the weeks turned into months, the boy stopped retreating to the warehouse at night, and began to sleep wherever he could as long as he could still see her. Gradually he began to place flowers on graves, too. But he still could not go near his mother's grave.

In all the months that he followed her, he'd begun to accept the fact that she might never talk to him to tell him her story, and that she'd never listen to his. But still he followed her, day in and day out, relying solely on garbage and the kindness of soup kitchen volunteers to survive.

As winter gradually melted into spring, flowers were easier to find, and the woman and the boy had time to relax and rest under the tranquillity of the oak trees that canopied much of the cemetery.

As the spring went on, the two could be seen resting under a tree together, far removed from the world around them that held so much hate and despair, but happy in the kingdom that they created for themselves in their minds.


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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