Her Sunflowers: A short

Reads: 310  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
A man and his daughter try to overcome a horrible incident.

(I had already posted this story but the formatting became comprised. Hopefully this one takes.)

Submitted: June 08, 2011

A A A | A A A

Submitted: June 08, 2011

A A A

A A A


Richard hated sunflowers.He hated their color, their sickeningly sweet smell, and their ugly dark centers.He hated the way they infested his back yard in large patches, despite spending hours in the scorching sun digging them out. He hated that Nell always refused to let him continue.
Those are mommy’s flowers, Nell said one day, catching him knee deep in dirt.
I know but I think it’s time we plant some new flowers. He stopped, leaning on a rusty shovel. I was thinking maybe some wild flowers or Lavender.We can plant whatever you like.
I want mommy’s flowers.
So he was forced to stare at mommy’s flowers, watching them twist and turn in the breeze, devouring every last bit of yard that was left, saturating his property with their violent color.
He scanned the field of vibrant yellow trying to find the exact spot where mommy had cradled little Nell against her hips and threatened to take away his entire world.
Richard had been planning the day for months.Nell’s sixth birthday was looming and he wanted to ensure his only little girl would have a wonderful day.He put in for the day off six weeks earlier, he called Main Street Bakery at least three times a week for two weeks to verify his cake would be ready in time, and when the day finally arrived, he stood in front of Nell’s school an hour before dismissal to make sure he wouldn’t miss her. He did all these things because he loved his daughter, and he wasn’t sure if his wife, who rarely seemed to know what day it was lately, had planned anything at all.
Pulling up to the house, Richard barely put the station wagon in park when Nell forced the door open and ran into the house, dropping her pink book bag in the doorway.Richard shook his head, scooped it up, and tossed it into the corner.
“Nell,” he said, hanging up his jacket. “How many times do I have to tell you to put your things away?Someone could tri-“
Nell’s piercing scream from the kitchen made the blood freeze in his veins.
“Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!”
Not today, he thought.Please not today.
Tearing down the hall, Richard ran into the kitchen stopping just short of colliding with his daughter.
“Daddy, look what mommy made me!”Holding up the dazzling yellow garment in her hands, Nell spun in a circle, the dress wrapping around her waist before falling flat in front of her.“It’s so pretty!She made it just for me!”
Richard inhaled through his nose, trying to curb his rapid heartbeat.“It’s beautiful honey.”
“I’m going to try it on,” Nell said as she ran down the hall and up the stairs.
“Do you really like it?” Jane said, puffing deeply on one of her long cigarettes.“Or are you just saying that?”
Leaning against the doorway, Richard looked up at his wife, her dark hair piled neatly on top of her head, her lips covered in a bright red tint.She was going out again.
“I mean it,” he said, crossing the length of the kitchen to the sink.“You did a great job.”
Turning the lever all the way to the right, Richard let the cold water rush over his fingers, watching as the light pink of his nail bed turned a dull purple.
“You’re just saying that but it’s ok,” Jane purred into his ear, throwing her arms around his waist and burying her cheek into his back.“I love you anyway.”
Richard closed his eyes at his wife’s words.She did love him, he believed that, but she was sick, and he never knew which woman he and Nell would come home to; the doting wife and mother or the depressed, sullen woman who hated the life they had built together.
Richard lightly placed his hands on Jane’s, squeezing her slender fingers, leaning into her caress.“Stay in tonight.Nell wants you to, I want you to.”
“You’re all wet,” Jane slid her hands from underneath Richard’s grip.“Besides I can’t stay in, I already made plans.”
“Plans?” Richard said, turning to face her.“What plans?It’s our daughter’s birthday!”
Jane walked over to the table, smashing her cigarette into an already full ashtray.“I already gave her a gift.What more is there?”
Richard pulled Jane against him.“There’s you baby.She wants you.”He held her tightly as he hooked one arm around her waist and cradled her hand against his chest, holding it there.“Tell you what,I’ll put on something nice to match that stunning dress you have on, once Nell’s dressed, we’ll all go to that Spanish restaurant you love so much.It will be a great time, just the three of us.”
Jane stared directly into her husband’s baby blues and hurt him the only way she knew how.“No.”
“Look mommy! Look daddy!” Nell’s excited calls stretched from the doorway.Pushing off her husband, Jane spun around, taking in her fair-haired little girl.“Oh baby girl, you look gorgeous!”
Jane didn’t go out that night.She stayed in fawning over her little girl.Richard knew it was only temporary but he let Nell revel in her mother’s praise.They played SpongeBob Monopoly, ate ice-cream cake until their stomachs would burst, and fell asleep on the couch watching Toy Story for the millionth time.
He woke to a door slamming in the distance, Jane and Nell no longer flanking his sides.Richard staggered to the hallway stifling a yawn with the back of his hand, when a breeze, ripe with the scent of sunflowers and gasoline shook him from his haze. Following the noxious stench to the far end of the house, Richard found the back door wide open.
The field of sunflowers stretched out before him, their woody stems keeping them firm in the ground as their tops shuddered to the left and right, bending in the wind.Jane stood in front of them, one hand encircling Nell’s frail shoulders, a lighter gripped tightly in the other.
“Jane?”He choked, the smell of gasoline strangling him.“Jane, what is that?”
Jane stepped back, her bare feet sinking in the soft earth.“I’m stuck here, Rich.”
“What? Who?”
“We’re all stuck here.Poor Nell is too and I won’t let that happen to her.She’ll hate it as much as I do.”
Nell hugged her mother’s waist as tears streamed down her squishy cheeks.
Jane flicked the lighter, sparks flying from the spout. “At least I can make it pretty for her.”
Richard squeezed his eyes closed, shoving the palms of his hands into them.Whenever he was alone, his thoughts crept to the moment he was forced to choose between the two creatures he loved the most.He chose Nell.
Richard pulled the curtains closed, blocking out the rest of the nightmare.Shit, leaning against the sink, he looked around the immaculate kitchen, urging a spot of dirt to form or a spill to clean up.
Tea.I’ll make tea.
Richard reached under the sink and yanked out the tea kettle, cringing at the chipped, ceramic sunflower topper.It would have to do.Filling it nearly to the brim, he placed the kettle onto the stove top and seated himself at the kitchen table.
Richard rested his head against the wood paneling as his eyes lazily found the antique clock hung on the wall.It was almost six and he would have to pick up Nell from her cousin’s birthday party.She had sobbed all that morning, attaching herself to his hip, refusing to leave him. This panicked him.He promised her toys, cookies, candy, anything to calm her.Then it came to him. Richard dug through all the moving boxes in her closet until he found it.He yanked the dress from underneath the myriad of old toys and books, the rough fabric warm in his hands.Despite his protests and the splashes of gasoline stains, Nell had refused to get rid of it.He washed it, took it to the dry-cleaners, and washed it again but the garment was forever soiled.The taste of bile filled his mouth as he held the dress up for Nell, her squeal of approval proof he had made the right decision.
He didn’t remember falling asleep but the repetitive click of the burner stirred him awake. Richard saw the outline of a woman standing in front of the stove, her back towards him, lighting a long cigarette before bringing it up towards her lips.
Richard blinked rapidly, trying to clear his foggy mind, forcing the vision away.But there she stood and he recognized the dazzling dress she had worn the last time he saw her alive.
“Are you happy now, Rich?”She whispered, taking a long drag of her cigarette.
Richard got to his feet and took a step towards his wife.“Jane?Is that you?”
Jane flung the cigarette into the sink. It went out with a quiet sizzle as she placed her hands on either side of the stove.“I asked you a question.”
Richard stared at the back of his wife and watched as the hair that was neatly perched on top of her head fell to her shoulders and the hem of her dress began dripping, creating a puddle around her feet.
He reached for her, every ounce of his body aching to hold her but her hand flew to his face.“You’ve done enough.”
Stopping in his tracks, he inhaled deeply and began to gag, the smell of burnt flesh and gasoline filling the tiny space.
Jane peeked over her shoulder, only her black eyes visible.“You did this.”
“Jane, no! I-“ He couldn’t breathe. His lungs craved clean air.He stumbled against the table and fell to the floor, smacking his head hard against the tile.
Jane’s shoulders shook as a chuckle escaped her petite body.She turned towards her husband, the right side of her body charred and black, her face melted into a permanent scowl.She stalked closer as he scurried backwards on his elbows.
“You wanted me to stay,” She gave him a wide grin, her skin cracking from the pressure.“Now I can never leave.”
“Please,” he cried as the stench of burnt flesh smothered him.She stopped just inches from his body as the grin slipped from her face.
“Now I can never leave!” Jane twisted her hands into claws and lunged for Richard.Throwing up his hands, he twisted wildly, causing him to fall out of his chair.
Richard scrambled to his feet and inspected the kitchen, searching for any signs of his dead wife.He was alone.
“Jesus Christ.Jesus Christ,” He rubbed the sleep from his eyes, turning in circles, examining every surface.“Holy Jesus,” Richard placed his hands against his knees as fits of laughter rocked him off balance.
“It was a dream.It was just a dream.”He wiped the tears from his eyes as he straightened up, his stomach aching from his seizure of giggles.
The kettle bellowed loudly making his calming pulse race again.The scalding water was boiling over the rim, pouring in cascades down the sides of the metal container.Cursing quietly, he grabbed an oven mitt, shoved it on, and dumped the contents of the tea kettle into the sink.
“So much for that. . .”
Richard squinted at the small, white object circling around the drain.Before he could stop himself, he shoved his hand into the scalding water, cupping the item carefully.The searing pain shot up his arms in waves, the air stinging his skin.Richard opened his shaking hands; inside, a damp, half-smoked cigarette.


© Copyright 2020 Isibwriting. All rights reserved.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments:

More Thrillers Short Stories