a Women Writer's' Showcase
by Ann Zimmerman

You decide to call a truce and buy flowers for your mother.  You didn't even acknowledge Mother's Day last year. 

You recall the last argument with her, over your brother.  You told your mother that he was an alcoholic, a deadbeat, a mooch.  You tallied the bank statements and credit cards, showed how many thousands of dollars he'd taken. You warned her that the stress was making her sick.  She'd responded in the same old way.  "I can't tell him 'No'."

You slammed the door and left that threat hanging in the air, "Him or me, Mom."

Now, finally, it seems so stupid -- to lose your mother over him.

You enter the florist's shop.  A small breeze follows you through the door and swirls the fragrances around.  You walk over to the roses, lean down and breathe in their scent, especially the white ones.  Your dad gave your mom a white rose every year on their anniversary.  Thirty-nine white roses. Perhaps you should have continued that tradition after he died.

Then you notice the pink carnations, dozens of bouquets prepared to honor mothers everywhere.  A tiny card clings to the green plastic.

"Carnation, pink: I'll never forget you."  No wonder these are the Mother's Day flowers. You look around, see more little cards.  "Daisy: Loyal love.  Calla lily: Beauty."  

But you wonder if a plant might be better.  Cut flowers wilt and die so quickly.  You move toward the potted plants, smell an azalea, read the card, "Take care of yourself for me."  Next to the azaleas are mums - "Chrysanthemum, white: Truth."  A freesia on the lower shelf offers, "Trust."  What about  "Tulip, red: Believe me"?

Then you spot the purple hyacinths.  Their delicate scent wafts over you. The blossoms cluster around the stem like chicks around a hen. You check the card, "Hyacinth, purple: I'm sorry.  Forgive me."  You buy the hyacinth.

You place it on the front seat of the car.  You drive carefully, slowly around corners, so you won't tip the precious plant.  As you turn into the lane, you smell cut grass and lilacs.  You park the car, lift out the flower, and carry it across the perfectly trimmed lawn.  The breeze dries your contacts, making your eyes water.  Then you kneel and place the purple hyacinth on the mound before your mother's headstone.  You whisper, "Happy Mother's Day." 

My flash fiction has appeared in Smokelong Quarterly, Alienskin Magazine, Antipodean SF, Net Author E2K.  I have also published non-fiction in a variety of magazines, including Colorado Outdoors, Rocky Mountain Sports, Highlights for Children, Women's Magazine, and Grit.  I reside in Colorado with my life partner and one ancient black cat.  I work as an electrician to support my writing habit.  Contact Ann.