Posted in Flash Fiction

Geraniums Grew Among the Weeds

He wore a mask over his mouth, his nose, strings looping over each ear that couldn’t hide the quiet desperation in his soul, could not filter out ash and dust, not the burned-over fields of radish, of asparagus, of peppermint.  The image of the calf, dead in the river bed, flashed across his eyes again as he approached the foundational remains, concrete that looked like that pan of brownies, forgotten in the oven until the screeching smoke-detector served as the un-set kitchen timer.  Burned-brownie cement.  A hollow, howling wind raced over the blackened landscape where, a year before, geraniums had grown among the weeds.  Her image winked into view, bitter as the taste of wet creosote that burned his nostrils, in spite of the humidity in the mask.  How she hated the weeds; they represented all that was disorderly in her neglected childhood.  Each thistle that she pulled was a victory over the stench of unwashed clothes and dirty dishes piled, days old, in the sink. His eyes swept the remains of their carefully tended yard, crumpled shards of pottery and their melted life in this pioneer land.  The sweat of their combined struggles trickled down his temples in spite of the cool March breeze.  He could not, refused to shiver in the face of the finality of all that he beheld.  Like looking through a view-finder, it wasn’t his, it wasn’t real; only a documentary film of someone else’s misfortune.  His ears strained for the sound of the neighbor’s dog, that incessant bark that drove him wild, now silent, like her voice.  He turned and walked the road back.

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Author:

A wild soul writing poetry & fiction while teaching high school literature, all with a camera in tow.

6 thoughts on “Geraniums Grew Among the Weeds

  1. This is a tragic story beautifully written. I feel what your protagonist is feeling, get his backstory, see the devastation. In fiction, Jilly, you use the poet’s knife — words are spare and clear, carrying heavy weight. It is a tale told well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Charley! This is my first real attempt at short fiction and I am hopeful that particular muse-bent will hang around… yet to be seen. Your comment helps me focus on the ‘how’ for doing this. Thank you, my friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, I thought this was absolutely fantastic! This is really your first go at flash fiction? That’s impressive. You managed to convey a great deal in the condensed form– narrative, character, and image after image of startling decay and ruin. Despite the dark subject matter, it’s all beautiful– a savage beauty in the devastated landscape. Were you inspired by Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road’? ‘Geraniums Grew Among The Weeds’ reminds me a good deal of that novel (which is gorgeous and soul-rendingly sad)

    Some of the best bits:
    “The image of the calf, dead in the river bed”
    “concrete that looked like that pan of brownies, forgotten in the oven”
    “How she hated the weeds; they represented all that was disorderly in her neglected childhood.”
    “He could not, refused to shiver in the face of the finality of all that he beheld. Like looking through a view-finder, it wasn’t his, it wasn’t real; only a documentary film of someone else’s misfortune. ”

    Do you ever write longer form fiction?

    Like

    1. Confession: I’ve never read ‘The Road.’ (I know, I know!) The title line came from what I call a mining expedition. I opened a battered copy of Steinbeck’s short novels in a coffee shop and flipped pages in seach of lines to inspire. I think that one came out of Cannery Row? The rest flowed out of the pain I felt at the fires in Alberta. I have, in the past, worked on fiction, but I haven’t conquered one aspect of that genre – the turning point, so my novel sits, dusty and waiting while I roll around in poetry like a dog in a dead frog. Thanks for reading; I appreciate your acumen.

      Like

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