Friday, October 30

Friday Fiction: Mamma's Roses

For Friday Fiction today, I attempted to finish an unfinished story for the FaithWriters writing challenge. I've been having a hard time with this quarter's theme: "Colors". I this story wrote for the topic "Red", but I couldn't get it "challenge-worthy" enough to enter. I had three versions of this story on my computer, and today I finally saw how to connect my three ideas into a cohesive (I hope) plot. But I'll let my readers be the judge.

Mamma's Roses

Red was Mamma's favorite color. That's why I cut all her red flowers that day. The day Mamma died.

At one time, my mamma was the picture of joy. She was also the perfect mamma. That's why I never stopped loving her even when she didn't seem to love anyone or anything anymore. I knew my mamma, and this wasn't her. I knew there was something wrong with her.

In those last days, if you wanted to see Mamma smile, you brought her something red. I was only a kid, a nine-year-old girl who missed her Mamma, but I knew what made her smile. I gifted Mamma with white lace handkerchiefs I’d painstakingly outlined with red embroidery stitches; red candies of all varieties: peppermints and redhots and licorice; elaborate drawings that wore my red crayon to a nub; a collage of leaves I’d pasted on cardboard – the reddest of the red maple leaves I’d plucked from the sea of orange and yellow under the trees.

Those things all made her mouth smile, but the thing that made her eyes smile again was the red leather journal from Aunt Claire. The book was little enough to tuck away in some private hidey-hole, but big enough to really write in. Mamma kept touching that red leather cover, stroking it, with this quiet smile, and her eyes had a light in them that made me grin.

She kept that journal with her, wrote in it all the time. I didn't know where she kept it when she wasn't writing in it, but I know it made her smile.

On that last day, Mamma couldn't barely open her eyes when I came into her room to tell her good morning. I patted her hand and kissed her cheek and said, "Ill be back. Love you," and skeddadled before I cried.

I went straight to the back porch and got Mamma's gloves and clippers. I fought crying again when I realized how stiff and dusty they were. Mamma used to love her rose garden. She'd cut a fresh red rose bud every Sunday morning for Daddy's lapel, and smile that smile that warmed her eyes as she fastened it into his buttonhole.

I grabbed the basket Mamma uses to gather flowers for the always-fresh arrangements on the table. My eyes were blurry from unshed tears, so I stepped gingerly down the porch steps then dashed to Mamma's rose bushes. I frantically grabbed stem after stem with my left hand and hacked at them with the clippers held in my right, filling mamma's flower basket with only the red roses and leaving all other colors behind. I wiped away unwilling tears trickling over my cheeks.

In the kitchen I stopped to make some order of the bouquet, then I lugged it to Mamma's bedroom. I made a place for it on her dresser where she could see it. The water glass in her bathroom made a great vase for a little arrangement for her nightstand.

I wanted to forget that Mamma wasn't my Mamma anymore so I started chattering trying to pretend it was like it was back whan she was my Mamma.

"I think yellow is my favorite color, but I really like pink too. Mamma, why do you love red so much? " I wish she could have said more than she did, but I'm ok with her answer.

"So pretty. Love. You."

A blossom of roses bloomed across Mamma's bed sheet. Red red roses. Mamma's favorite color.

I begged her to open her eyes; to answer me. I had to lean in real close to hear her whisper.

"Pocket. Red book. Read. Love you"

Those were the last words I heard Mamma say. I like to think she still heard me though when I spilled my love out to her, crying on her bosom.

And I knew what the red book was. Before I went to get Aunt Claire and tell her about Mamma, I dug the little journal out of Mamma's robe pocket and tucked it inside my shirt. Afterward, after Mamma was gone and I'd told Aunt Claire I just wanted to go lay down, I read Mamma's journal.

It was one long letter to me.

And when I finished reading it, I understood a lot more than why Mamma's favorite color was red.

Red was the color that saved her. The red blood of Jesus. She wrote to me her plan of telling me all about it one day, but how it just got to be too late. She didn't want it to be too late and that's why Aunt Claire's red journal was the perfect gift.

When I finished reading it, reading all about Jesus' love and his sacrifice, red was my favorite color too.

© 10/30/09

For more Friday Fiction, Visit Christine at "With Pen in Hand". She is our hostess with the mostess this week!


Catrina Bradley

"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes."
Psalm 18:24 (Msg)