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Morgue

On my lunch break, I left the office and stopped at a corner store to get some flowers for my sweetheart to bring to her office building across town. All the flowers were crammed in little feed buckets under the awning outside the bodega—flowers of every variety. Single roses, sunflowers, spring mixes, tiger lilies, lilacs. They all looked so beautiful. I considered just getting a single rose, but it reminded me too much of the end of an opera, the final ‘BRAVO!’ when fans throw them up on stage for the lead actress. But, conversely, I didn’t have enough money for a dozen roses so settled on the mid-grade option of an arrangement of lesser neon magenta, violet, and yellow flowers. I picked them up and took them inside. The plastic wrapped around them crinkled in my hand and the flowers dripped from the stems—I laid them on the counter and pulled out my money. The counter girl pulled out a plastic bag.

“What are you doing?” I asked, She didn’t answer me, and started wrapping the plastic around the stems. “Plastic? No more plastic.” I said curtly, pointing. “It’s so they won’t drip.” She said without looking up at me, continuing to wrap the stems and taping them so it looked like some kind of amputee’s stump, done up in cellophane. Now everything but the heads of the flowers were covered by a wall of plastic, slippery, glazy, without scent, moisture, or any kind of natural characteristic. I felt sad. A gentleman, the proprietor I assumed, walked up.

“Ten dollars” he said, sticking out his hand.

“Take off the plastic. Please…” I begged. The girl protested, but the man’s eyes showed empathy. “No plastic?” he repeated my request, “OK.” He shrugged, unwrapping the plastic and rolling the flowers in wax paper. I went over to the ATM and pressed buttons so I could get some money to pay him for the flowers.

I gave the counter woman my money and said thank you mechanically, and then took the flowers I bought for my sweetheart that I purchased with money that I had received from working my job, which I was temporarily on the lunch break from. I took the flowers and walked out onto the street—they seemed happy and released smells, and made me happy. The day was beautiful and breezy. I liked the feeling of the wax paper in my hand more than the feeling of the plastic in my hand and think the flowers did too (I vanquished the unpleasant truth that they were actually dead, autopsied in fact, from my mind).

“I hope they weren’t grown in bad chemicals…” I thought to myself, frowning. I walked down the bustling boulevard, carrying the flowers. I raised the bouquet to my nose, pricking up my olfactory to be hit by their sweet musky scent—I took a deep whiff. They smelled like nothing.

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