By Amelia Frey
Montgomery Blair High School
Fifteen years. It was still there. I set the handful of zinnia and soil down beside the letters and cautiously run my fingertips over the engraved name, my engraved name. The rock is chilly and nips at my fingers, a smooth roughness. The memory hadn’t faded with time at all.
“Sophia! Stop playing with that rock and look at the sky for once!”
My mother had been eating watermelon with two of her friends, a trio in foldable beach chairs on a beautiful summer evening. I had drawn my gaze from my freshly carved name in the rock, and tilted my face towards the setting sun. I had seen the colors emblazoned across the enormous sky, threads of light lingering in the sky, interweaving with the rolling clouds, dyeing the heavens peachy orange, then red, then blue, then it darkening to obsidian. As the night deepened, fireflies had idly blinked across the playground underneath a star-speckled sky.
It had been the most beautiful sight in my life.
Breaking out of the bittersweet memory, I remember what I came here for. Clearing away a patch of grass next to my stone, I start to dig, my fingers clenching into the moist soil to create a fist-deep hole. Grains of dirt gather underneath my fingernails, grains of dirt form a small mound next to the hole. I tenderly pick up the dead zinnia, lifeless and grey against my hand, and lay it in the cavity I have created.
This is goodbye.
Now my color can rest with the memory of my other dead colors.
Covering the flower with earth, I stand up, brushing my hands to get rid of the dirt. I glance around at my surroundings, and see many small local stores sprinkled around station; a restaurant, a library, a shop called Bumble Bee Boutiques, a florist. I look closer at the florist’s window. It has the words Rochester Flowers proudly displayed across the front in a sloppy right-leaning cursive. But it isn’t the cursive that captures my attention.
It’s the bright red, dainty-petaled flower in the windowsill.
I jump, and a shiver of adrenaline runs down my neck all the way to my feet. I sprint across the messily paved concrete street, cars honk and swerve, but I am oblivious to all of my surroundings but the single flower. I can hear my heart beating quickly, thumping along with rhythm of my feet. I grab the metal handle that opens the door and pull it, triggering the light tinkling of a bell as I enter the shop.
Rushing to the back of the window display, I bask in the beauty of the scarlet flower. Another zinnia, my zinnia, my symbol of hope. Not wanting to take my eyes from the bloom, I slowly raise my head and peer around the rest of the store.
There are red zinnias everywhere. An entire section filled with them on the left side of the shop, hanging in planters from the ceiling, resting in flower pots on the ground, they are everywhere. Salty tears blur my vision until they are all just one large smudged mess of red, bright red.
I walk over to the wall of crimson and brush my fingers through the soft veined petals, admiring their pure color. My momentary bliss is interrupted by a delicate tap on my shoulder.
“Excuse me, ma’am? Can I help you with anything?”
I turn around.
They are the only thing I can see. Eyes, glimmering deep green, sparkling like a fresh sheen of morning dew.