Life and Love – by SK (High School)

In this beautifully written story we learn a lot about Marion.  “She liked red. It was life and love.” We also learn about other things she loves, including her garden – especially the red amaryllis.  We like the small details in this story – not just wool, but “scratchy wool with a pom-pom on top”.  We also appreciate the writer’s choice of words  – “their eyes would snag on her baldness”.  Snag is such a powerful word in this context.  This story introduces us not only to Marion, but also to a young writer with great promise!

Congratulations to SK – this story is one that readers will return to again and again.


Life and Love

Winter brought a chill, and Marion wore knit caps to keep her bare head warm.
Scratchy wool with a pom-pom on top, and bright red lipstick to draw attention away from it.
Marion wasn’t ashamed. She just didn’t want cancer to define her. People walked by, and their eyes would snag on her baldness, her pallid appearance. Their startled expressions were quickly smoothed over with a look of suppressed but apparent sympathy.
Marion was more sick of sympathy than her body was sick of her blood.
Sympathy was for those that didn’t have anything to live for. Marion had her garden, and for her, that was enough.
She liked red. It was life and love. It was the tubes in her forearm, pumping vitality into her veins. It was her mouth and her cheeks, where she smeared bright rouge from a clay pot she bought in Paris.
It was her Amaryllis flowers, which bloomed brightly in the winter air, weeks after she carefully placed them in the ground, with grass stained overalls and mud-encrusted hands.
You know, Marion used to be a soprano. Her notes were like chewing gum, easily stretching to pitches so high it was difficult to fathom their existence. Whistle tones, even.
She wasn’t a soprano anymore, after her diagnosis. That was the one thing she truly missed. Now, her voice was scratchy, like steel wool on metal. Don’t get me wrong—she still sang, perhaps more than she did before. Isn’t there a saying, something about how you don’t miss it until it’s gone?
She didn’t have anyone, really. Her parents, sure. Her friends, after initial weeks of balloons and bouquets and Get Well Soon! cards, had quietly retreated. But Marion didn’t mind, at least not too much. She had her Amaryllis, and she sang to them as she knelt in her flower beds, brushing dirt from velvety petals.
Marion had two weeks to live, and that was that. Now, humming softly, she decided that she wanted the flowers planted on her grave, as a symbol of her life, a red flame extinguished so quickly.
Learn more about the contest which inspired this story:  Nutshell Narratives 2019-01
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