She had come to me, pink carnations dripping from her eyelids and collecting in the swaddle of her arms. Bringing just as much spring as sorrow. And when the chatter of the door chimes subsided, I asked her why she was returning perfectly arranged bouquets.
The chill of the floral coolers short-circuited the skin on my arms as she mumbled she was donating them. She had happened upon a superbloom of healthy stems but didn’t have enough vases to contain such multitudes. I paused a trimming of black roses, wiping the mist on my apron, and welcomed Mary back into our shop.
Her shoulders so burdened, that if I squinted just right, I could make out a crux of a cross straddling her back. But when I broached what was bothering her, she only mentioned the gray weather even though we both knew not a single cloud was casting its shadow. I said nothing then, believing the strips of her steel hair were wise enough to keep the truth within their tangles.
She thanked me lightly, but before I could respond, she was gone. And as I prepared her donations for their re-arranging, I noticed a forgotten note penned in hesitant ink. It said: you were a good mother—and always will be.
I only remember the cloying of the flower shop and the introduction of a migraine afterward. I closed up early that day, hoping the rainbow of scents would mellow out before I could return.
Maxwell Suzuki is a Japanese American writer who recently graduated from USC and lives in Los Angeles. Maxwell’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in trampset, Anti-Heroin Chic, Kissing Dynamite Poetry, The Hellebore, and his personal website www.lindenandbuckskin.com. He is currently writing a novel on the generational disconnect of Japanese American immigrants and their children.