The Flowers Again
Nicholas Osiowy, Grade 12
Every night before he went to bed, Henry dusted the flowers. Illuminated by a pool of yellow light, their every line was painfully clear to him, and in each dynamism of dust he found his worries whisked away. This was especially so on the cold nights, the winter nights, when the sound of the wind and rain touching as if some compulsive child the multitude of surfaces in that streetscape was his only companion and the yellow light drew closer. It was on those nights that the wind’s only virtue was its ability to carry with all speed through the away-facing window the dust of the flowers.
The apartment’s walls, self-painted, had over the course acquired the residue of the palette, so that what should have been the homely gold of the ochre had become the sludge of oxidised mud and the delight of the blue aquarelle a black strip, pulsating as though one were in the tar-stretching hot surrealism of sleep. It was dim in any case, the walls being covered by black bookshelves, each one populated by the assorted whirlwinds of Henry’s forty years. But even the floral design of a bar of Brazilian chocolate, unopened, provided no relief, no light. There were only the flowers.
The vase encasing them was sanded, dulling what could have been a rich dulse to the pale brown of disappointment. It was as if it was wrung from the texture of a grandmother’s curtains. The vase had two handles, too small for even Henry to hold. His hands were soft, and they gripped the base of the vase with a certain sweaty nervousness, of a kind with that which appeared over his face when another person was flung onto the square of his doormat. His face was thin, and his hair, an uncertain shade of pale brown, flopped over his left eye. His right eye, the only one the occasional visitor ever saw, was uncoloured, unfocused, as though it were waiting for something. There was nothing but the flowers.
Melanie followed him home once. The carelessness of his actions; growing concerned her gloved hand had reached out, afraid of his tumbling in front of the train. He never saw her. She knocked and the door opened. She fidgeted, asked him how he was, asked him to adjust some reports. And as she saw his eye and mouth remain locked in their concreted spaces, she was filled with a passion, and brushed aside his hair.
The eyes pierced her brow and burrowed into her soul. The gaze! And fled. Henry closed the door and believed himself to be about to yawn. He sat down and began to dust them. First the pale paper rose, then onto the cretaceous leaf and the fern. At last, the half-bloomed azaleas, but slowly, to not cause even a single bloom to fall. For though the whole world smelled of horrific emptiness, to him, as long as he lived, there were always the flowers again.