Sunday, January 29, 2017

Flash Fiction - Remembrance

I've been quiet here; the lack of a commute has made my life better overall, but really cut into my writing time. I don't need to tell you, my friends, that these are dark times in America.  I will, for today, eschew political writing for a scrap of flash fiction. 



by Leonard C Suskin

"The Rosemary is dying"

You see the little pot in your mother's hands. The spiky leaves are starting to yellow. Not all of them, but enough. This is not a strong rosemary plant.

She sets it down on the kitchen table. Her fingers walk through the branches like pages of a book, pulling each one aside to touch it, feel it, examine it. You marvel, not for the first time, at how hands as hold as hers can be this nimble, this lively. She sighs.

"I wanted to make a wreath, for the Johnsons to hang over their baby's crib. The goddess knows we can all use some protection these days."

She finds a healthy sprig, pulls it free as she continues to speak. "Do you think we should put it on the window sill? It'll get more light, might do a bit better."

Your eyes widen. The window is clearly visible from the neighbor's house. And the other neighbor. And the ones behind you. That's the hazard of living in suburbia. Everyone sees everyone. "You know.. The black laws.. What if someone sees?"

She finds a healthy branch and carefully breaks it free, her nails cutting into it a few inches up from the stem. Just as she taught you. "You know, this isn't the first time.  I remember a story my grandmother told me about a village in the old country where rosemary - and more - were outlawed. Especially rosemary."

She bundles the few healthy sprigs with string and hangs them to dry as she talks. "There was, in this village, a wisewoman, who'd treat her neighbors ills, who'd help them find love, who'd make sure their babes were born healthy and not stolen away by the fey-folk after."

You listen as she strings up the rosemary to dry - in a corner of the kitchen, far enough from the window that the neighbors wouldn't see. "The king sometimes sent riders to make sure that his edicts are being obeyed, but the people of this village were clever and proud of their wisewoman. She'd been good to them. So, they were clever. They each chose to plant rosemary in their gardens, and foxglove and lavendar and whatever else she grew. They planned to tell the kingsman that they wanted them for cooking, or for decoration, or some other silliness. The idea was, of course, that even if the kingsman didn't believe them, he couldn't raze the entire village and put them all to the torch. The wisewoman was, not for the first time, proud. And glad she'd picked this place to live."

She trails off.

"So? What happened? Did the kings man give up?"

"Do Kings Men ever give up? Lovely rosemary grew wild in the wreckage for years after. Probably still does. And those who survived remember." She set the plant at the windowsill, in the sunlight.