By Hayley Reese Chow
The fresh lilies on the table are from Mom, but they remind me of him, of course. After ten years, they shouldn’t, but my disobedient thoughts wander anyway. Maybe it’s the social distancing, or the fact that I haven’t dated in… I honestly can’t remember, but I open my laptop and type his name.
The internet—God bless it—shows me his face immediately, and it’s both the heart-thieving boy from my memories… and not. He’s put on weight, like most of us have, and he’s wearing a stiff suit he would’ve despised once. Sipping my tea, I click on the Twitter link—that tasteless stream of social consciousness. I cluck my tongue in disappointment but can’t keep myself from scrolling.
He’s been inactive for a while, but his posts are familiar in a way his picture wasn’t. He geeks out over heartfelt indie films and mind-blowing books, sharing pictures of his homely cat alongside snarky witticisms that make me snort into my cup.
Smiling now, I return to my Google search. Did he ever get married? Have kids? Maybe he’s still in the city. Maybe we could…
The obituary stops me cold.
I blink. And then blink again.
Though my brain has frozen, my finger still clicks his name. On autopilot, I skim the devastating tribute… car accident… mourned by parents. It was recent enough that there’s still a “Send Flowers” button on the page.
I click on it and, with tears dripping into my mug, I send lilies.
Hayley Reese Chow is a PowerPoint ranger by day and writer by night. Her first novel won the 2020 Florida Author Project, and she has short and flash fiction scattered across the internet. She lives in Florida with her two wild boys, her long-suffering husband, and a dog that thinks it’s a cat.