On the Doorstep – by Sarina Zhao (High School)

There were flowers on her doorstep. Azaleas in a pearly white ceramic pot.
They were not yellow, like the ones they had seen that day in the park, but an intense blood red. As she brought her face to the blooms, she noticed that these flowers did not possess the powerful honey-rich scent like those at the park, either. Instead, they were subtle in fragrance, almost like a fluttery kiss or the gentle beat of a butterfly’s wing.
Her fingers grazed the silky petals, and they reminded her of his soft touch, the way his hands fit perfectly in hers. A sunny breeze blew by, and ruffled the leaves. The petals whispered into the air, and the flower heads nodded up and down to the beat of a broken heart. She thought of how warm his breath had been when he told her, “I love you.” She had believed him back then.
She stared down at the elegant blossoms, and for a second everything fell into place. It was as if, for just a fragment of a moment, he was standing at the front door, with his smile that pulled up on the left side of his lips more than the right, and his tousled hair. She blinked. Suddenly, she felt very lonely, and she raised her hand to wipe the moisture from her eyes.
It was a minute or so before she regrouped her feelings. Then, very slowly, she bent down to bring the vase inside. The azaleas, so docile they were, swayed delicately in the air.
Right before she stepped back into her house, she saw it. So small, it was easy to miss. It was a slip of paper, underneath where the blooms had been.
Putting the azaleas down, she picked up the note.
Very carefully, she unfolded the parchment, and read.

Learn more about the contest which inspired this story:  Fleur 2020-05 Azalea

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