Faded wood chips slide between her fingers as Emma pulls the dead peony’s bulb from the ground. She wants to move it. She needs to move it. Partially because it is her favorite flower. Mostly because she’d moved it four times in the past four years, always on the same day. This year the blooms lasted a full ten days and she kept them inside on the mantle with the dead ones. Today is the day she dug it up and placed it somewhere new because next year, it would bloom again.
She doesn’t know where it belongs, so she starts digging, looking for the best soil. Her hand shovel pierces the ground and removes the dirt until she sees something. It looks like paper.
Seven years earlier, in the same spot, a boy knelt in the garden and began to dig. Behind him, the sliding door opened and his mother shouted that it was time for dinner. He said he was coming and filled in the hole.
Five years earlier, in the same spot, a man knelt in the garden, removed his watch, and began to dig. Behind him, the sliding door opened and his wife shouted that it was time for dinner. He asked her if she knew that peonies were supposed to last for one hundred years. She said she didn’t. It’ll be here long after we’re gone, he said. All she could do was smile and say that the food was getting cold. He said he was coming and filled in the hole around the beautiful flower he said would last a century.
Emma raises the watch to her ear, listening to it tick. Behind the dirt-covered faceplate, the thinnest hand clicks as it moved. Tears reform and drip down her face as she flips it over and looks at the engraving on the back. Gently, she rubs her thumb against the words, feeling the tiny cuts graze across her fingertip. “Love is temporary and yet eternal.” She thinks to herself just like a peony, and plants it there.
A.J. Ferguson is a published poet, playwright, and fiction writer who teaches creative writing in Oklahoma City, OK where he lives with his wife and children.
FLASH GLASS: A MONTHLY PUBLICATION OF FLASH FICTION, PROSE POETRY, & MICRO ESSAYS
COVER IMAGe:"Ice Crystals"