The Rose Peddler: Unhappy Ending
As Raymond drove down his favorite stretch of forgotten road, in his favorite forgotten valley, he sped.
The pine trees whipped past his window and a barrage of thoughts pummeled his weary mind. How did Manny know his wife’s name—was it really just coincidence? What about his suggestion of the special roses, or his precognition that Raymond’s wife would stay home after he presented them to her? Sure, it could be coincidence—but it could be much more.
Raymond, mystified by the sight before him, quickly slammed on the brake pedal, causing his car to swerve off onto the side of the road. Chunks of gravel shot out from under his skidding tires and ricocheted through the pine trees as his car came to a halt against a large dead tree trunk, badly denting the hood of his car. Ignoring the crash, he leaped from the driver’s seat, not bothering to shift the transmission into park or shut the engine off. He stood in awe at the sight before him.
Where was the flower shop?
There was no sign of Manny. No sign of the flower shop. No sign of the misspelled sign. Where its ramshackle edifice once stood, less than twenty-four short hours before, now stood a small cemetery.
Raymond stood in awe, mouth gapping wide open. Am I going crazy, he asked himself, did I imagine the whole incident? Where did this cemetery come from, was it behind the flower shop the whole time? Maybe I pulled off in the wrong spot? He glanced down at his feet, searching for the previous days tire tracks. Nope, there they are there. That’s swell, at least I’m not crazy. Manny couldn’t have just packed up and left town over night, it’s impossible. Plus there wasn’t even a single trace that the shop had ever really even been there in the first place.
Raymond walked toward the small cemetery, on the side of his favorite forgotten road, in his favorite forgotten valley, thinking of his new friend Manny, remembering his crescent smile and his sun-dried hands. He examined the gravestones as he passed by. Hidden under brambles, choked by vines, obscured by mud, swallowed by briars. He wondered if the cemetery had a gardener, or if they even bothered with its upkeep. From the looks of it, the answer was no. He could see why, none of the dates were even near recent; 1952, 1933, 1947. Most of the headstones were at least twenty years old; 1971, 1958, 1966. Some were so old that the dates had been entirely worn off by the elements, names erased from a chalkboard; 1929, 1967, 1943, 1931, 19—
As Raymond read the date on the gravestone nearest him, the muscles in his legs collapsed and he fell to his knees in the front of it. He could feel dampness of the soil soaking through his pant legs and a sharp pain where a jagged stone dug into the flesh of his shin. He stared at the chiseled slab of granite jutting from the earth in front of him and read its engraved inscription.
An Angel From The Heavens
The Love Of My Life
And A Flour Most Beautiful
Raymond was forced to remember everything now. He remembered that fateful day when Rose left the house to catch the train. He remembered getting ‘the call’ and the second his world come to a screeching halt. The day his beautiful flower Rose was taken from him, a beauty lost for all eternity. He remembered writing the obituary, picking out the coffin, and choosing the inscription for her gravestone. He remembered how Manny, the mortuary’s new stonemason, misspelled ‘flower’ and how nobody realized it until the day of the funeral. He remembered how he laughed when he first saw it and thought that Rose, being the strict book editor she was, would find it hilarious and decided to keep it, one final inside joke between the two of them. It had been nearly three years passed now and Raymond had done his best to forget, to ignore, to change destiny and live happily ever after, but his mind found a way around his denial, a way to remind him. He could no longer lie to himself, Rose was dead.
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