The Scent of Lilac – by Izzy Duffy-Cross (High School)

Sun-dappled trees bow subserviently to form a path through the garden of my youth. Forgotten, aged, unkempt: once a haven of life and love. Sweetpeas twist along broken fences, cherries glisten with ripeness in the evening sun, a soft mist dances above the ground, caressing the grass with wet and light. My eyes see only the old bench, consumed by moss and mud and time. And the lilac bush. The lilac bush is levitating above the bench, thrusting its fragrance and flowers forward. It is the sun in the solar system. My solar system. Across the wavering strands of unruly grass there is a figure, a human outline, turned away from the light and me. Nobody ever comes here these days. Their presence is a devil in Eden; after all, this was once Paradise. Nowadays, my dry mouth produces little sound, but I ask what they are doing here and watch as their broken body turns to me.
He is in front of me. I am speechless. There is a distance between us, and I close it, flying over to him. His face is a flash of light that transports me to the last time we sat on the bench. 60 years ago.
That was my golden time. Bending like flowers towards the sun we grew together. He whispers my name and I tingle. This is love. This is growing. This is everything. Carefully, he slides his hand to the lilac bush and plucks a bud. He tells me lilacs never lose their beauty and neither will I. There is the scent of lilac on my clothes and my hair and my brain and it is permanent.

I never saw him again, but the scent of the lilac follows me in my dreams to sleep.

My eyes are faded, eroded like crusts of jewels. There are creases like rivers running along my face. Trees wither and sag, and my spine curls like an aged willow. Age has taken my features and left behind shadows.
“Lilacs never lose their beauty,” he says.
“And neither did you.”

Learn more about the contest which inspired this story:  Nutshell Narratives 2019-04

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