The Long Goodbye – by Eric Ryan (Adult)

Her hands were young once. Smooth and milky soft. The last time she unfolded this white handkerchief she was just a girl. Now she was aged, like the orchid she revealed inside. Dusty and dry and ready to crack at the first sign of trouble.
She gently lifted the mummied flower out of the old steamer trunk where she kept all of the things that reminded her of him. Of Johnny, and 1944. The gentle pink hue on its petals had faded and the green withered. It was still the same flower but much older now. He slipped it onto her wrist that night, before he headed off to England and then on to France, never to return.
He was charming and strong in his uniform. A wedge cap tilted slightly on his head. She was young and wild with mischief in her eyes. That night they kissed underneath the blossoming magnolias in Central Park as the pink petals fell around them. Her white dress wafted out and spun as he twirled her, dancing and laughing. The small bit of lace that held the corsage to her wrist had torn and she had nearly lost the delicate flower in their reverie. She had kissed him by the stone carved fountain as the water swelled and splashed back down in patterns, throwing millions of droplets into the air.
She had only met him a few hours before, but the night had been extraordinary, and he swept her off of her feet. One night was all they had together before the troopship blasted its final call at dawn and she watched him fade into the steam on the Brooklyn docks. A kiss, and a wave from the promenade deck and he was gone.
Under the orchid in the trunk was a sepia toned photo of a young man in his prime. His dark hair combed back and the radiant smile she had trouble remembering. She had given him a picture of her too, but she figured it was long gone now. Swallowed by hallowed waters and washed out to sea.
Learn more about the contest which inspired this story:  Nutshell Narratives 2019-02
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