flowers before the fall.

by Michael King

This morning, as I was walking home, I saw the grounds workers planting petunias on this, the second day of Fall. The inevitability of these flowers’ decline sat with me for some time, and I sat down to write about it. This is what resulted.

It rested between them, the end, like an unwelcome visitor unpacking a bit too thoroughly. Over dinners, they laughed and pretended it wasn’t chuckling with them. Helping itself to their morning coffee and robbing them of the words that once sprung out from each to the other. At the first sign of it, they’d kept busy, raising the hum of their day-to-day lives to drown it out. But, steadily, it clamored, waiting patiently for the silence, until resignation to its permanence crept over them. Acceptance of the Fall.

And, though the leaves around them began to dry into rustic oranges and browns, urging them by example to set free the shells of what once teemed with life, they glanced at one another and seemed to agree: ‘Let’s take the weekend together.’

And so they embarked. Despite the inevitability of the impending bite of frost, they planted petunias. Gorgeous purples and creams.

They held hands in the car as the concrete highway whipped by underfoot. Dig.
They listened to the song they’d first kissed to. Set.
They stopped at every roadside curiosity, laughing until their sides ached. Cover.
They booked a hotel room, pulling one another’s shirt off before the door had even closed. Tamp.

The flowerbed sung freely before them, momentarily deafening them to the leaves falling from the sky and billowing at their feet. Had the flowers ever burned this bright in the summer?

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