Raising Flowers – by Ananya Jain (Middle School)

The woman’s body melts into the rocking chair. It groans but holds her. There’s a chill in the air, so she puts on a jacket, allowing her body to absorb the warmth. The flower bed is empty. The weight of the earth is strong, crushing the fragile seeds, yet at the same time, nourishing them. Her daughter is young, innocent. She grips a bottle of bubbles with wide, curious eyes. She’s too young to notice the changes in her mother, the deep bags under her eyes, her receding hairline. The woman sees the sun setting behind the large red maple and smiles, perhaps remembering her youth. She picks up her daughter and goes inside.
It’s spring now. The woman sinks into the ground, ready to tend to the flowers. Her daughter is playful, happy. She can now open the bottle of bubbles and stick her fingers into the soapy mess. The woman is tired, her hair now falling out in clumps. She hides her sickness behind a baseball cap. She looks older than she should, her forehead constantly wrinkled. The flowers are sprouting, but right now they are babies. They are vulnerable, and she pours her heart into helping them grow. Her daughter finds the bubble wand and giggles, pleased with herself. She blows into the wand and gasps at the holographic bubbles. The woman smiles; she remembers when everything in life felt like a wonder. Looking over at the maple tree, she reminisces her youth, reliving the hours spent hanging from the tire swing. Her watch beeps, telling her to go inside and take the medicines. She gets up, but the action makes her dizzy and she stumbles backward. Her daughter follows obediently into the house.
Summer is usually spent outdoors or in a cool pool. The woman imagines the sun from her bedroom window. Her body only allows small, laboured movements. Her daughter is outside on the tire swing, blowing bubbles. She is beautiful, enjoying her youth. The flowers are picture-perfect. The epitome of health, they are the product of careful hard work. The woman smiles.
Learn more about the contest which inspired this story:  Photo Flora 2019-03 – Garden Magic
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