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The heavy fragrance of the lily dispels the hospital air, takes possession of the quasi sterile smell and chases away the clouds that cover you in that bed. My sweet daughter. So still you lie there, innocent and serene, unaware of the crushed limbs that should have bulged the blanket. "Lost a lot of blood," the doctor had said, as if that logically explains why you won’t wake up, while your pretty little head is clearly undamaged.

I picked the lily on the day you moved into lodgings, as an evaporating substitute for the stimulating perfume of your body odor. You always had reminded me of lilies. Especially that morning, when I chose the flower, not fully out yet, the ends of the creamy petals turned outward very slightly, as if you wanted to look carefully around the corner to see if you dared. You weren’t even moving that far away. Only fifteen minutes by car. But it was time to stand on your own two feet, to detach yourself from your mother, the nourishing soil on which you had grown.

I dab your pale face with a damp cloth, talking to you, to the lily, and cut the stem slantwise again to make sure it can absorb enough nutrition. Palliative care out of undirected powerlessness.

The first few days you called me every night. Not because you needed it yourself, but to please me. The lily in the hallway, next to the telephone on the table, backed up your words with image and scent. While you told me that you got along very well with your new classmates, the petals started to open, virginal, with a slightly provoking aroma accompanying your casually added "especially with this one guy". And when you suddenly didn’t call one evening and I saw that beautiful flower fully surrender itself to the world, longing, lustful, hot sweet-smelling, I knew how things stood. And I smiled. My little girl had grown up.

*

When I came home a few days later and the toxic smell of a truck coiled past me through the open door, I felt there was something in the wind. The gas chilled the pleasant atmosphere in the hallway with a deadly, lung decomposing stench. I remember that I rushed disgusted to the kitchen and in passing rubbed against the lily, causing loose pollen to end up on my blouse. It's still there. Indelible, like the blood in your cut open clothes.

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