flowers in the scrub - Yellow by Stephen HerronLook at the Flowers and this... flowers in the scrub (rough draft 1)
Helen shivered in the warm night and tears shone silver as they coursed down her moonlit cheeks. The sickly greasy smell of lighter fluid made her stomach lurch and she sobbed a sad hiccoughing moan that seemed to catch in her throat and made her feel like she was drowning.
The grass tickled her feet and stones underneath dug at her kneecaps painfully and she focused her mind on the flowers, trying not to think about anything else. The dull throbbing pain in her girl parts and hot slick blood itching as it cooled and dried on her thighs was a Bad thought that brought on the tears and would bring back the hitting and she didn't want more pain than she already had. This pain was too much already.
The flowers, they were clean. Perfect. Yellow, even in the moonlight. Two domed heads leaned together as if they whispered secrets. Pretty perfect yellow flowers comforting and giggling like girls in the schoolyard.
He's going to kill me now. She whined in her own mind and shivered again when she heard the man's boots rustle the grasses behind her. He's used me and abused me and now he's going to kill me and I don't even know his name.
All the fight had gone out of her when he'd finished raping her and had seemed to go away. It had been quiet here and she'd cried and rolled onto her side, pulling her knees to her chest and wrapping her arms around them. When she'd opened her eyes Helen had seen the flowers and had to blink them into focus. Two pretty yellow daffodils leaned together as if they shared a thing between just themselves.
Like me and Jenny. Her mind grasped that long ago memory and she felt a little less miserable. Her cornsilk hair hanging down with my puppy brown hair making a screen so we could talk about the kittens in the barn and how Mama Jo always smells of smokes when she comes back from her walks in the evening even though she says she gave up her bad habit for healthier ones. We talked about boys and about magic and about how maybe it was a good thing that our real families had been so bad just so we could find each other.
Jenny was the best sister she could ever have gotten, even if they hadn't shared a mother until Mama Jo. Jenny was going to miss her, she thought and drove her thoughts deeper into the memory.
"You two snuggle together that way giggling and whispering like those tangled trees on the old Jamison farm." Mama Jo teased from her place on the porch. She was a kind woman, caring for lost children the way that some cared for lost pets. "Go... the pair of you go and stretch your legs before you take root out there and I have my own pair of tangled trees right here at the house."
Jenny had been sick and her parents couldn't care for her and so she'd come to Mama Jo's house and that was all she knew. Jenny had lived with Mama Jo for three years before Helen came to share their house after the Bad things with her mama and newest uncle had been so Bad that Miss White had seen blood on her favorite Pony leggings and she had been taken from her own mama and given to Mama Jo.
Jenny had stayed sickly but was grown now, just like Helen and the pair of them still curled together tightly, heads bowed together and long hair flowing over their faces to form a waterfall behind which they would talk. Now they talked about men and work and how hard it was to live without Mama Jo's quiet teasing and clean house and simple rules. How nothing was ever as good as the sweet smell of their breath and freshly cleaned hair as they whispered behind the curtain held each other close.
"Go before you take root out there and I have my own pair of tangled trees right here at the house."
Pretty perfect yellow flowers.
He hadn't been gone for good, though. He had returned and was angry with her and kicked her and told her to get up and turn away from him. He had squeezed lighter fluid from a tiny can onto her back and had called her dirty names. Bad names for women who liked the Bad things he had done to her.
And Helen had sobbed aloud and rolled up onto her knees even though the grass tickled and the rocks bit. And she had kept her eyes on the yellow flowers. She had known then that he was not one more Bad thing to live beyond and share. This was in fact the last Bad thing.
Helen reached up and pulled the scrunchie from her hair, mindless of the man in the grasses. Her soft brown hair fell down over her face and she breathed a sigh of relief. Safe. Just her and the flowers. Let whatever would be happen outside of the curtain.
"I won't be goin' to jail for no dumb damned half-wit lousy piece of ass." The man's drunk voice was the last thing she heard before the pain was so great that she was carried away by the whoosh and searing flames of it.
Jenny and me behind the curtain in the warm sun... Jenny and me... pretty perfect yellow flowers. Jenny.
Jon stood on the low rise with the old tanks behind him and watched the walker at the bottom of the hill for a long time.
"I've never seen one of them do that before." Alex said and shouldered his pack as he joined Jon at the fence.
"Me either. Usually they wander because that's what they do. This one seems stuck to this place."
Alex shook his head. "I'm not climbing over to kill it. We get to do enough of that all day anyway."
"Me either." Jon said and sighed. Walkers walked. That's kind of what they did. In this awesome living dead parody of the old world everyone had a job and the walkers walked.
Except this walker that knelt on the ground and rocked forward and back, head bowed and hands clasped together in her lap. She looked like she might be praying or weeping. At her knees were weeds and flowers that had grown up all around her and while walkers all around were grunting and groaning and trying to feed on the living this single walker just stayed where she was.
Jon shivered in the bright warm day and bent to pick up his own pack, rocking slightly to his right as he did so that the momentum carried his heavy burden over his shoulder and flumped it soundly onto his back as he straightened. "That is creepy as fuck."
"I agree." Alex turned and looked out across the concrete pad they were planning on turning into home. "She's out there and we're in here and as long as it stays that way I think I can live with it."
Jon snorted and shook his head at the younger man. "Yeah. Me too."