Bethany’s husband calls down from their house on the hill, “There’s a storm coming.” Rumbles in distant clouds punctuate his yell. She raises a hand in his direction, but her mind refuses to acknowledge his interruption. Instead, her thoughts remain in the blissful memory of a carefree summer day.
The sun blazed in the sky. Bethany’s daughter, Daisy Mae, was as lovely as her namesake. She danced in the tall grass and bent with the breeze as she moved closer to the riverbank. She smelled several daisies, picked them, and tossed them into the moving water one at a time as she giggled. ‘Mommy, please tell me the story about the curious flower.’ Daisy tugged Bethany’s sleeve. ‘Pretty please.’ Bethany gathered daisies and weaved their stems into a small floral crown as she told her daughter’s favorite tale.
“Once, there was a curious flower, and she pleaded with her mom to be plucked from her stem because she wanted to see more than the other flowers and blades of tall grass. Finally, after much thought, the mother agreed and asked a rabbit to pluck her daughter from her stem and cast her into the river. A fish swam past, a turtle burrowed in the mud, and a frog hopped on a log. A snake hissed a silly song, a salamander scurried across a stone, and a beaver and his family built a home. For a moment, a dragonfly perched on the small flower’s middle. Then, it joined its mate in the blue sky. A bird with great wings circled. Light glinted from its feathers. The little flower asked the bird how to return to her mother, but the bird said the river didn’t flow backward. Her head drooped, her petals sagged, and the adventurous little blossom felt tired and lonely.
Something tickled the flower’s tiny petals; her mother had bumped into her. ‘Did you enjoy your trip down the river?’ Mother asked her daughter as she wrapped her in an embrace.
‘Yes, but I missed you, Mother.’
‘I’m here,’ her mother said, pulling her close again. ‘I’ll follow you, always.’”
Lightning severs Bethany from her daydream, and the first cold drops strike her face. More recent memories invade. Racing heart. Frantic screams. ‘Daisy! Where are you? Help! Somebody, help!’
Bethany takes three steps, clutching a wilted yellow and white tiara. The river drowns out shouts behind her, and the current buckles her knees, but a forceful yank from behind halts her journey into the water. She is once again on shore. Her voice comes in a strangled wail. “No, no, no, I said I’d follow her always.”
A struggle continues between husband and wife, and she launches herself toward the water. He shakes her. Bethany stills and meets his eyes. “It wasn’t your fault,” he says. She clings to his soaked shirt. He supports her as they pass their daughter’s ribbon-laden wooden cross and back to their house on the hill.
Copyright Marie Drake 2023
Previously published at Liberty University