The girl was bored and wandered. She did not care if she was tagged, no one could force her to play. If she was It, she would not react, she would continue looking at the Wilsons’ plants, at the rows of bright flowers. She could hear her sister yelling after their neighbor. Her sister had been It for a long time.
She was only a kid so could go in everyone’s yard. She spoted a stray cat and for a while tried to get it to follow her, but the cat was uninterested. She saw her neighbor running for base. Base was any large tree. The girl walked past a bunch of flowers and one of the young flowers stretched out to her and whispered, “Take me with you, my family is boring!” The girl stared, then yanked it from the ground. The other flowers were screaming. The pulled-flower cried in her hand. “I didn’t think it would hurt! I didn’t believe them,” it moaned. The flower had a raspy voice. The girl didn’t know what to do, she clutched the flower and ran. The flower was disheveled from just a few minutes in her hand. The girl had never heard a flower before.
The flower calmed down, and now began planning its new life. “I will sit in a jar of water and you can read to me all day.” The girl didn’t know what to say. For one thing, she knew the flower would only live a day or two, and also, the girl had school, she couldn’t just waste her day reading to the flower. She didn’t want to! The flower continued, “You can drive us into town and we can see a movie. I’ve never seen a movie before.” The girl wanted to scream with laughter. She couldn’t drive! And imagine taking a flower to the movies!
Her sister ran up and tagged her. The girl dropped the flower and chased her sister across everyone’s yard. Adults were coming home from work and they waved at the girls from their cars. The sisters saw the stray cat and chased it into the bushes.
The girl was mostly home when she remembered. “I picked a crazy flower today,” she told her sister. “It complains!” She wanted it back to show people.
It was coughing in the dirt when the girl reappeared. The flower said she was a terrible girl, that she had ruined all of their plans. The girl knew the flower was being dramatic, she had never agreed to any plans, she thought she was doing the flower a favor by pulling it out. She didn’t know it would hurt. She picked up the flower, who was silent. She stroked its petals and the flower was pleased, though it said nothing.
The flower loved being in the warm hands of the terrible girl. It was lulled by the rhythm of her running. The girl tried to rouse it because its voice cracked her up, but the flower was asleep, so she left it outside near the dog’s stuff.
Dinner was started and her parents scolded her for being late, but laughingly. The girl felt right and happy with her family. Her Dad was telling a hilarious story about work. He was imitating the Mexican warehouse workers. He was good with imitations. One of the Mexican warehouse workers needed heart surgery, and they replaced one of his heart valves with a valve from a pig heart. This sounded incorrect to the family, unreasonable really, but the man felt beTer than ever. There was a rasping from outside, and the family didn’t know what it was, but the girl cracked up and ran out the door.
The flower was so stunned by the indoors, that it forgot it was furious. It talked at length about the indoors. How weird the lighting was. The ceiling fan transfixed it. The family laughed at it. The Mom stuck it in a narrow vase and the flower drank the water greedily. It was in the center of the table, on display, and felt honored. The family continued talking, but the flower had no background and felt completely left out. It complained, quietly at first, but then began moaning and the girl had to shut it in a drawer.
The flower missed its family horribly. Right now they were slowly folding in their petals and quietly saying goodnight to each flower. Young flowers were being funny and saying goodnight to made-up flowers. When it was sunny, all the flowers were spread-out and ecstatic. When it rained, every flower’s center filled up with water and they gurgled when they spoke. Each family flower had a completely different personality. Some of the flowers were near silent, and just enjoyed listening to the talk of others. Other flowers were proud and articulate. The pulled-flower was closest to a set of flowers that had all blossomed on the same time day. Just standing near these flowers was pleasant to the flower, because their heads, petals, and stems, had been present for the flower’s entire life, and made the flower feel cozy in its place. The flower could picture so clearly its family mourning it. “Turid!” they would cry, for that was the flower’s given name.
The flower wore itself out in the drawer. It was startled to wake in complete darkness, with no sounds or breeze. It now understood it had made an irrevocably bad mistake. It had sacrificed everything for a girl it barely knew. It was no longer connected to anything it liked. Its petals were dry, its singy ways were over. Turid felt the dullness of a done flower.
The girl opened the drawer and Turid would not look at her. The girl plucked a petal and the flower cried. “I’m sorry,” the girl said. “What do you want? What can I do?” Through sobs, the flower requested the vase again. The girl got it and put the flower in. “Listen to me,” Turid said in a small voice, “my petal hurts because you swiped it. I thought only boys swiped petals.” Turid leaned against the vase’s glass sides. “Even though I’m in water, I feel dry. I have no more energy to be myself. I need to be planted back with my family,” it looked to make sure the girl was listening, “but first I want to see a movie.”
The girl put the vase in front of the television and found a tennis match on. “Together,” the flower insisted, so the girl sat and watched. She was going to be late for school. Yesterday, the girl had thought she’d have fun showing the flower off at school. She’d even thought they’d become friends and she could talk about boys with the flower. Now, the girl ceased to be entertained. The flower reminded her of toys she had had as a child that ‘spoke’ in jarring, staticky voices. Her parents had grown exasperated with these toys, especially when they went off in the middle of the night, chattering aloud.
The girl looked away from the television to observe, with disgust, the flower, who didn’t seem to be paying attention. “I do not like movies,” Turid decided. “Please plant me immediately.” Turid was limp. There was a gap where the girl had swiped a petal.
“I’ll be right back,” said the girl, and then she went off to school.
The flower sat in the vase in front of the television, waiting. The day was intolerable. The television showed tennis. The flower found itself wishing to be visited by a bug, and the flower as a rule hated bugs. The flower was ashamed to return to its family with a petal gap.
Turid’s family had lived from their bulbs for thousands of years. They had been traded and transplanted and the journeys had been difficult. Many times their fate seemed teetering, but they had persevered, even when planted in poor conditions. To be a flower born from Turid’s family was an honor. The bulbs had adept memories and remarkably long life spans and taught each generation of flowers about their past. Turid remembered fondly the bulb it had come from. The generous and wise nature of that bulb. Turid felt wildly lost to be disconnected from its bulb.
The indoors was a dead place, full of interesting objects. They were stacked on top of each other.
There were places for people to rest. The flower tried to describe the objects, but they made liTle sense. They were colorful and lifeless. Though the flower had looked at houses with curiosity when it was in the ground, it now understood that inside, houses were devoid of real feeling. The flower grew so bored.
The Dad came home and heard the rambling flower. He walked over to it in a menacing way, and the flower kept going. The Dad moved to swipe a petal. “You are a terrible father,” the flower said. “You’ve made a careless and unfeeling child. She promised to take me to the movies, then put me in front of this.” The television showed tennis.
The Dad put Turid in the closet. The vase made a scraping sound against a floor tile. Then, the door shut. Dust swirled in the dark. A spider immediately visited the flower and the flower thanked god.
In the terrifying starless dark, Turid thought only about its family. It struggled to remember, and was rewarded with, memories of its own childhood. It remembered lile bits of songs they had all sung. There had been epic fights between flowers that now seemed endearing and minor. Every thought or feeling that Turid had, now felt like it was an expression or learned behavior of someone from its family.
It was hours before the girl’s sister found the flower. The flower was very disoriented. It had a web over its face. “My friend made that,” the flower said weakly. The sister took the flower and threw it in the trash.
Turid spent the day fainting. It remembered the outdoors as one being.
The next morning, the girl dumped cereal next to the flower and the flower grunted. The girl had forgoTen about the flower, and grudgingly picked up Turid and shook the filth off. “You have disrespected nature and the tradition of my flower type, and I will poison you, if you do not take me home.” The girl was so bored of this flower that she considered puTing it in the blender.
“You will die!” The flower screeched. The girl stared back at the limp flower.
urid began screeching in loud, grating bursts. The sister came in and complained. The girl grabbed the flower and stuffed it in the refrigerator.
“Murderer!” Turid yelled.
Turid sobbed in the refrigerator. My flower family has survived worse than this, Turid told itself, though unsure if it was true. Turid was so weak from pain and distress that though the flower knew all the members in its family by name, when it now tried to imagine them, it only saw them in the vaguest sense. The flower ached and another wretched petal browned and fell. The flower curled in an effort to comfort itself. It thought, A family is the best collection. It tried to think what should be its final thought.
The girl went upstairs and changed. She had thought flowers were shy, feminine creatures, but had found her flower to be overly proud, needy, and annoying. The flower didn’t seem to have a gender. It was not suited to be a girl’s friend, though the books the girl had read as a child had always suggested that girls and flowers could be close. The word ‘murderer’ had startled the girl. Only men were murderers. It seemed very unpopular for a girl to murder anything.
The girl retrieved the flower from the refrigerator. The flower could not move or talk. The girl looked at the flower and saw a complicated piece of trash. It looked like ruined decoration from a present. Or an inedible part of a vegetable. The girl ran down their block. Gradually, the warmth from the girl’s hand reanimated it. The flower felt like it was going to throw up.
“I hate you!” Turid said. The girl said nothing. Her eyes scanned for the kind of flower. The girl had a softball game later on and her birthday was coming up. She knew she wasn’t a murderer.
The flower couldn’t describe where it was from. The girl took it to all the yards on her street, but could not match the flower. The flower had no sense of direction. For the third time, they snuck around the Wilsons’ yard, looking for similar flowers. The girl grew agitated. “Here here here,” Turid chanted, leaking in the girl’s hand.
The girl tossed the flower in front of its family and the flowers were frantic. “Turid! You wild thing!” Turid squirmed in the grass, trying to obscure the petal gap.
“It is me!” Turid said with glee, “I have lived a life in only two days, and I have hated it!” The flowers were quiet. Not only did Turid have a wide petal gap, but the remaining petals were shriveled and limp. Even more startling, Turid’s head was partially severed at the stem. And the boTom half of the stem had already browned. They knew Turid had only a few more hours. The flowers tried to think of something appropriate to say. They could think of nothing.
Turid watched its flower family watching and felt distinguished. The flower could hear the sounds it had grown so accustomed to. The meditative moan of the lawnmower. Leaves flapping against other leaves. A few ants began to nibble Turid and the flower did not object. I am adventurous, thought Turid.
Rachel B. Glaser is the author of the poetry collection Moods (Factory Hollow Press, 2013) and the story collection Pee On Water (Publishing Genius Press, 2010). She teaches Creative Writing at Flying Object, and paints basketball players. ”Turid” appeared first in 2011 in Issue 3 of Cousin Corinne’s Reminder, which has ceased publication.