Dead Flowers

Darlene stared at the bouquet of withered roses, contemplating her next move. The crinkled brown leaves curled around brittle stems and the dried, almost black, rose blooms drooped from the mouth of the crystal vase.

A reasonable person might suggest she discard the arrangement, dump the foul chemical-filmed water and scrub the vase clean. But her heart couldn’t do it. Scott gave her those flowers before he disappeared. The only trace of him: a blood stain left in his truck parked near the Mogollon Rim.

Like a torrential monsoon rain, tears gushed down her cheeks. Each sob sent a wave of misery through her, so she wrapped her arms around her torso to ease the movement of her cracked ribs. It had been nearly four weeks since she almost died, but her wounds still gaped.

The emotional agony rivaled her physical scars. Nightmares of smoke and flames interrupted her sleep. She relived the panic of the stuck windows, the desperate grasp at life she made by throwing herself through the glass, and the jarring smack of concrete twenty feet below.

Scott had stayed with her in the hospital. He held her hand, slumped over with his head next to her on the bed. He did this for five days and then he was gone.

Darlene took a shallow breath and forced herself to slowly exhale.  She grabbed the bunch of stems and dropped them in the trash. She spotted the unopened pink envelope on top of the heap, still held by the plastic pitchfork.

She stared at the small rectangle until it grew blurry.  Finally, she lifted the envelope and slid her finger under the sealed flap, saying a quick prayer before reading his message.

“I’m sorry. You’re stronger than I thought…it wasn’t supposed to end this way.”

His apology left her with more questions than answers and a fury that sent crystal shards and putrid water spraying across the ceramic tile floor.


TrifectaPicture11-1This is my response to the Trifecta weekday challenge, which was to write a 33 to 333 word piece (mine came in at 323 words) using the following word/definition:

MOUTH:  something that resembles a mouth especially in affording entrance or exit: as (a)the place where a stream enters a larger body of water; (b) the surface opening of an underground cavity; (c)the opening of a container; (d)an opening in the side of an organ flue pipe

If you want to try the challenge yourself, or read the other responses, click on the tricycle picture to view Trifecta’s site.  As always, thanks for reading 🙂

77 thoughts on “Dead Flowers

  1. Tara R. January 28, 2013 / 10:43 AM

    What a twist at the end. That cryptic message left me thinking her accident, wasn’t an accident. I’d love to read more.

    • jannatwrites January 29, 2013 / 9:55 PM

      You might be right, Tara 🙂 Maybe I’ll add to the story in the future.

  2. Annabelle January 28, 2013 / 11:03 AM

    Wow, that does leave a lot of questions. Now I REALLY want to know what happened here!

    • jannatwrites January 29, 2013 / 9:56 PM

      I’ll blame the word count for the cliffhanger, Annabelle 🙂 Thanks for reading!

  3. 2old2tap January 28, 2013 / 11:09 AM

    Yeah, I’m hooked now. What’s next??

    • jannatwrites January 29, 2013 / 9:57 PM

      Good question, 2old2tap! Actually, I do have a couple ideas in case the next weekday prompt affords continuation of the story.

  4. Debbie January 28, 2013 / 11:45 AM

    Shame on you for hooking us, then cutting the line!! We all want to read more, to find out whether this was an accident or somebody trying to do somebody in!! This is an excellent beginning for a short story (or novel?). Go for it, Janna!

    • jannatwrites January 29, 2013 / 9:58 PM

      Hey, it’s not my fault Debbie – Trifecta has a strict cap of 333 words 🙂 (But I would’ve left it hanging anyway!) Thanks for the encouraging comment, Debbie. I may continue this, but honestly, my writing folder is full of half-finished projects!

  5. Kir Piccini January 28, 2013 / 11:57 AM

    Oh Janna, that was so good. The desciptions alone were worth the read, but then you took us down the path, our own heads resting on that bed..and threw us for a loop. It was so good, spooky, intriquing. All the things that make a great story.

    • jannatwrites January 29, 2013 / 9:59 PM

      Thanks so much for your supportive comment, Kir! I’m glad you enjoyed the story – thanks for reading 🙂

  6. themisanthropicmuse January 28, 2013 / 12:44 PM

    Stronger than he thought… was it a murder attempt? It’s got me curious now.

    • jannatwrites January 29, 2013 / 10:02 PM

      It could be…or it could be a different situation entirely. I think I’ll have to add to the story to answer some of the questions here 🙂

  7. deanabo January 28, 2013 / 2:50 PM

    oh my! This was really good.
    “I’m sorry. You’re stronger than I thought…it wasn’t supposed to end this way.”
    You really got my heart racing with this line. I want to know how, when and why…

    • jannatwrites January 29, 2013 / 10:03 PM

      Thanks for reading, Deanabo! I’m glad you’re interesting in knowing more.

  8. nrhatch January 28, 2013 / 3:25 PM

    Oh, my! What a cliff hanger . . . you’ve left us on the Mogollon Rim. 😀

    • jannatwrites January 29, 2013 / 10:03 PM

      As long as no one falls over the edge, it’s all good, Nancy!

    • jannatwrites January 29, 2013 / 10:04 PM

      Well, I hadn’t planned on this being a continuation, but based on the responses, I think I’d better continue it. Thanks, Widdershins!

  9. Tessa January 28, 2013 / 4:37 PM

    Beautiful twist! Did he try to kill her, is she the reason he disappeared/dead. Need answers 🙂

    • jannatwrites January 29, 2013 / 10:05 PM

      I’ll see what I can do, Tessa 🙂 Thanks for your comment!

  10. zennjennc January 28, 2013 / 5:34 PM

    ahh, what a twist and a cliff hanger

  11. diannegray January 28, 2013 / 6:17 PM

    LOL! Wonderful. I love a good twist in the tail and this one certainly hit me in the solar plexus! What a scoundrel he was! 😀

    • jannatwrites January 29, 2013 / 10:06 PM

      Hahaha! I’m glad you liked the twist (I like the phrase ‘twist in the tail’…I hadn’t seen that one before.) Thanks for reading, Dianne!

  12. Diane Turner January 28, 2013 / 9:21 PM

    Okay, now I’m hooked. Great twist and excellent writing, as usual. Thanks for sharing.

    • jannatwrites January 29, 2013 / 10:07 PM

      I do appreciate you reading, Diane. I’ll continue with another Trifecta entry…probably not the weekend one, though because I need more than 33 words!

  13. Buddy January 28, 2013 / 9:49 PM

    Wow!!!!! I love this piece! ‘Nuff said!

    • jannatwrites January 29, 2013 / 10:08 PM

      Aw, thanks, Buddy! I appreciate your enthusiastic response 🙂

  14. muZer January 29, 2013 / 1:50 AM

    Wow.. You ended it with quite a lot of questions there.. I was feeling so bad for them and then suddenly the last line changes the whole story! Nicely done.

    • jannatwrites January 29, 2013 / 10:09 PM

      The card certainly changed things, didn’t it? Thanks for reading, Muzer 🙂

  15. GodGirl January 29, 2013 / 3:06 AM

    This was riveting Janna! Totally didn’t see that ending coming, well done! So he planned for her to die during the car accident? Very intriguing!
    Great imagery… like your use of the word mouth too, with the vase of flowers.

    • jannatwrites January 29, 2013 / 10:10 PM

      Funny thing is, I didn’t see that ending coming either as I wrote it…it just happened that way! I left the card ambiguous because I’ve got a couple different directions I can go with this (I’ll decide when I see the next Trifecta prompt :)) I appreciate you reading my story, GodGirl!

  16. unevenstevencu January 29, 2013 / 3:59 AM

    got me interested in what’s gonna happen next – threw herself fthrough a window 20 feet off the ground – ouch-

    • jannatwrites January 29, 2013 / 10:11 PM

      Well, she faced certain death if she didn’t jump, so she took the chance. Thanks for reading, Unevensteven…there will be more on this one in the future.

  17. habibadanyal January 29, 2013 / 4:08 AM

    What happened to her and him and them? Nice one.

    • jannatwrites January 29, 2013 / 10:12 PM

      I hope to answer your questions in another segment (but it might just raise more questions :))

  18. Sandra January 29, 2013 / 4:41 AM

    I’ll bet she’s not missing him now. Good one with a terrific twist.

    • jannatwrites January 29, 2013 / 10:12 PM

      I’m glad you liked the twist, Sandra! Thanks for stopping by.

  19. KymmInBarcelona January 29, 2013 / 7:11 AM

    Her reluctance to face her own strength, and loss, is well drawn.

    • jannatwrites January 29, 2013 / 10:13 PM

      Thanks, Kymm….I appreciate you reading it!

  20. Sandra January 29, 2013 / 8:57 AM

    The suspense! I had to tell myself to slow down and read everything before finding out what happened! That twist at the end was chilling. This is a well-crafted short piece that can be the beginning to much more! (BTW, I just caught up on reading all your posts; just when I thought things were back to normal, DS got sick again this weekend, and today, DD; sigh. Winter germs are kicking our butts this year!) Have a great rest of the week!

    • jannatwrites January 29, 2013 / 10:16 PM

      I’m sorry you’re sick again, Sandra…it seems like once one person gets sick, it just keeps rotating around all the family members. I hope things get better soon!

      I’m glad you liked the suspense in this one (I love mysteries :))

  21. barbara January 29, 2013 / 9:02 AM

    hmmmmm Scott seems to be a bit of a cad, doesn’t he? Well done.

    • jannatwrites January 29, 2013 / 10:17 PM

      He could be…but I think there’s more to the story (as soon as I make it up :)) Thanks for reading, Barbara!

  22. Jennifer Dillon January 29, 2013 / 11:23 AM

    Ha! He tried to kill her and then felt bad about it. Oooo, I hope she gets her revenge.

    • jannatwrites January 29, 2013 / 10:18 PM

      I don’t know if she’s got revenge on her mind or not…we’ll see 🙂 Thanks, Jennifer!

  23. vivinfrance January 29, 2013 / 12:55 PM

    Every one that I’ve read to this prompt has been shocking or sad or with a real sting in the tail. Has Trifecta put the ‘fluence on us?

    • jannatwrites January 29, 2013 / 10:20 PM

      Maybe they did do something to us, Vivinfrance 🙂

  24. Jennifer January 29, 2013 / 1:31 PM

    Hmmm… that does ask a lot of questions. Now I want to know the rest of the story.

    • jannatwrites January 29, 2013 / 10:21 PM

      I’m glad it captured your interest, Jennifer. After reading the comments here, I plan to add on to it with a future prompt 🙂

  25. Lance January 30, 2013 / 1:41 PM

    I think you didn’t see that ending when you wrote it because the characters didn’t either. It was a very natural twist. Very well-written piece, Janna.

    • jannatwrites January 31, 2013 / 11:08 PM

      Thanks for the encouraging comment, Lance. For these short pieces, I often don’t have a direction in mind, so you’re probably right 🙂

  26. Draug419 January 30, 2013 / 5:45 PM

    Whoa, now I’m left with all of these questions…!

    • jannatwrites January 31, 2013 / 11:08 PM

      So many questions, so little answers, so few words 🙂 Thanks for reading, Draug!

  27. mairzeebp January 30, 2013 / 7:23 PM

    Read it a few days ago and then got the flu but kept reminding myself to go back and comment because I loved the twist and I would love to read their entire story.

    • jannatwrites January 31, 2013 / 11:10 PM

      Oooh, so sorry you’ve been sick, Mairzeebp. I will most likely continue this one, so I hope you do stop by and check it out. Still smiling when I think of your piece…the thank you written in glitter 🙂

  28. Eric Alagan January 30, 2013 / 10:57 PM

    I like the title Janna – Dead Flowers (?) – Something contradictory about that.

    • jannatwrites January 31, 2013 / 11:10 PM

      Contradictory, unless they are in my care, Eric 🙂 Thanks for reading!

  29. atrm61 February 1, 2013 / 3:04 AM

    Poor Darlene!Here she was holding on to his memories & it turns out he was just a cad-turning tail on her!Well,i say good riddance to such rubbish-just like she found out when she threw away the vase in fury that the water was putrid,so was this fellow’s intentions!Loved this Janna-u really write beautifully:-)

    • jannatwrites February 1, 2013 / 11:17 PM

      Hehehe…your comment was funny, Atreyee. He seems like he was up to no good, doesn’t he? He may be gone, but she’s got a nasty mess to clean up 🙂

      • atrm61 February 2, 2013 / 1:37 AM

        Lol Janna,that’s the bad part-hope she has a well meaning admirer who will come by to help;-)

  30. Tina February 1, 2013 / 6:48 AM

    Ooooh! The plot thickens! Was he ordered to kill her because she knew too much? Inquiring minds want to know!

    • jannatwrites February 1, 2013 / 11:18 PM

      I’ll have to figure out what happens…and I’ll let you know 🙂 Thanks for reading, Tina.

  31. Michael February 1, 2013 / 9:45 AM

    Gasp. The fiend! Whatever will happen next!

    • jannatwrites February 1, 2013 / 11:36 PM

      Haha! You’ll soon find out what happens next, Michael.

  32. Imelda February 1, 2013 / 11:46 AM

    This is filled with lovely details that pull one in to the story. The ending begs for more… 🙂

    • jannatwrites February 1, 2013 / 11:43 PM

      I decided I’d better continue since I left the ending on a cliff, there. Thanks for reading, Imelda!

  33. Girl with a New Life February 1, 2013 / 12:09 PM

    Holy cliffhanger. I would read the rest.

    Also, I thought the opening with the dead roses was a nicely done metaphor.

    • jannatwrites February 1, 2013 / 11:45 PM

      Thanks, Girl with a New Life! I appreciate you taking time to read it.

  34. tedstrutz February 1, 2013 / 9:18 PM

    How long has this story been going on? He tried to kill her, yep, I’m certain.

    • jannatwrites April 24, 2013 / 10:51 PM

      I don’t know how I missed this comment – sorry, Ted! This was the first part of what has become a lengthy story!

  35. Cameron February 2, 2013 / 11:30 AM

    There’s a lot under the surface here! Could be fun to see how the threads unravel.

    • jannatwrites February 3, 2013 / 12:01 AM

      Thanks for your feedback, Cameron 🙂

  36. pattisj February 5, 2013 / 3:27 PM

    Ohhh, this was good, Janna!

    • jannatwrites February 5, 2013 / 8:58 PM

      Thanks, Patti. I appreciate you reading!

  37. Carl D'Agostino February 18, 2013 / 9:51 AM

    left her with more questions than answers – exactly how I felt after completing a master’s degree in theology

    • jannatwrites February 18, 2013 / 11:09 AM

      Hehe…at least you completed a masters…I think I would’ve walked away confused (and would still be wandering today, Carl :))

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