Posted by: Kathryn Hulick | October 5, 2009

Humming for Roses

Sighisoara, Romania. Summer 2004.

Sighis. - green pink tan street

Part 1: The Teeth of the Sea

The smell of fish follows me up the sloping street. I’ll never get it off my fingers or out of my hair, never ever.

I worked on the cod for five straight hours, until the boys took pity on me and told me to go home. They knew what I’d say.

“I have no home.”

“Go to the house, then. Wash up. Play with your dead flowers.” They snickered and shoved each other.

I lashed out with one fist. The one still bleeding from the thorns. No one was supposed to know about my roses!

My hand struck Cole in the throat. I was short, but my arms were long.

“What was that for?” Cole rubbed his neck, eyebrows twisted.

I turned and ran. Beat my shoes against the stone road, keeping time with the beating of my heart. Need a new hiding place, need a new hiding place… I imagined the boys’ chubby fingers reaching in, crushing the delicate petals, and my stomach recoiled like I might throw up. Had they touched them? How did they find my treasures?

I turn the corner and

SLAM

I’m on my back, groaning. Leaning over me, it’s Marmie. Not my mother, though she wishes I’d call her so. Her hair flies around her head in wisps like long spider legs, and her eyes are sea-night black.

“Watch where you’re going, Storm. What’s the rush?”

“Nothing. Sorry Marm.”

She’s blocking my way. Stepping in front when I try to get around.

“‘Scuse me?”

“Just a moment, child. We need to talk.”

“But…” my roses. They’re in danger

She sits me down on the closest door step, and reaches into her pocket, pulling out one crumpled brown flower.

“No!” I can’t help the strangled sound that comes out of my throat.

Marmie says nothing, just sets the dead thing in my hands. And waits.

I try to do nothing. I try to sit there with empty thoughts, dry mind. But I can’t help it. I have to hum, I have to sing the song of wind and rain and sunlight that the flower begs to hear. Swaying slightly, I cradle the once-fuschia bloom and squeeze my eyes shut. Beneath my fingers, the petals soften and curl. Brighten with joy at the memories I bring.

“I thought so.” Marmie’s voice breaks the spell and my eyes snap open.

I’m holding a pink, healthy flower.

“We’re going to have to do something about that, Storm.”

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  1. […] Part 2: Humming for Roses […]


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