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Fog and Daisies
I step out of my car and breathe in the crisp, fall air. When I let out my breath, a small cloud balloons upward. I feel like a dragon. I smile slightly and let out another breath, watching it rise to be with the gray sky above.
I look down from the sky to see my favorite floral shop. Normally, a man such as myself wouldn’t have a favorite floral shop, but I have a good reason to.
I put on my best face and push my way through the entrance. A little silver bell chimes above me.
“Jesse?” a voice from the back of the shop calls towards me.
“Yeah,” I call back. “It’s me, Amy.”
A petite blonde peeks her head around a large, potted leafy plant, her blue eyes twinkling. She’s in her mid-twenties and she has gorgeous pink lips. I like her pink lips.
I give Amy a big, goofy grin.
“So what’ll it be, sweetie pie? The usual?” Her thick southern drawl always makes me smile.
“A bouquet of white roses,” I reply with a wink.
“Comin’ right up,” she says, smiling with her bright, white teeth. She disappears behind into the maze of flowers.
Looking around, I notice a little carousel of cards. Some have professional pictures of potted flowers on the front. Others have a young girl with a daisy in her fire engine red hair and another has a boy in a tux down on his knee, handing a pretty little girl a red rose.
“Hey, Amy?” I call to the back, keeping my eyes trained on the one of the young girl. “What’re with these cards?”
“What? Oh, they’re new! You write little messages in ‘em and send ‘em to people you love,” I heard from a distance.
“How much?” I respond. I pick up the one I’ve been eyeing. Tellie will absolutely love this card.
“99 cents,” her answer was closer. “But you can take it for free.”
I turned, still gripping the card, to see Amy standing with my beautiful white roses. She gave me a sweet smile.
“Thanks, Amy,” I say quietly.
“No problem, sugar.”
I bought my flowers and grabbed my card, starting out the door to my car. I rummaged through the glove box, searching for a pen. I found a black and white hotel pen from when my family and I went to Colorado. I sighed and scribbled something down inside the card:
I smiled at it and placed it in the passenger seat next to my white roses. I revved the engine and flipped the radio to my favorite old college station. I pulled out of my parking space and onto the deserted road while listening to the station silently.
When I reached my destination, a thick fog was beginning to brew. I sat in the car for a bit, looking out at all the round-topped, flat-slate stones.
The song from last year’s popular Toyota commercial came on. Elephants started to parade through my stomach.
This feels familiar.
I shut my car off all the way and gathered my things. I started my trek through the stones and up a hill, the fog continuing to thicken. Then I see her. My heart melts.
“Hey, buddy,” I say quietly, giving her a small smile. I sat down in front of her, outlining the cold stone with the tips of my trembling fingers. I read the name on the slate just as I had many times before.
Tellie Ann Carter
I gently lay the flowers across the soft grass in front of it. “I got your favorite flowers, see?” My eyes start to swell with tears but I quickly blink them away. Crying is not something men do.
“I got you a card, too.” I place the card down on top of the bouquet, staring down at the little red-headed girl. I sit cross-legged on the ground.
My mouth twitches into a frown and a huge lump forms in my throat. I start blinking rapidly as I bow my head.
Men don’t cry, men don’t cry, men don’t cry.
I try to talk through my lump. “Maria broke up with that lacrosse douche,” I choke out, letting out a small laugh at the end. I feel something wet slide down my cheek and plop onto my leg below. I rub my nose and stare at the little pool of wetness. I look up at the foggy sky and sniff in hard.
I let out a shaky breath, taking a moment before lowering my head to look at her tombstone. My mouth wobbles and frowns and my vision suddenly becomes blurry. The stone is now a giant gray blob.
I let out a long sob, burying my face in my hands. My shoulders shake up and down as I bawl like a baby right in front of her. She probably thinks I am a baby. I am definitely no longer a man.
“You and your dumb pyromania!” I suddenly scream into my hands. “Why’d you leave me?” I let out another sob or two, my chest heaving violently.
“You better be lucky I got you your damn flowers,” I say more quietly, easing up a bit. I slow my crying, wiping my eyes and looking up at her again. The tombstone stood tall in the fog, jutting out of the ground like one of those wooden picket signs. I stare at it, my face red and ugly and my dark hair plastered to my forehead from my merciless crying.
“I miss you, Tellie,” I hoarsely whisper. “Please come back to me.”