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Flowers and Fear
by Katerina Charisi
2015-11-15 11:51:47
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Through the years, Emily never stopped saying how important was that I should stay home and raise my kids. My own self could wait. Friends could wait. A job could wait. My life could wait. But could it really? And for how long?

Τhe presence of her as a child little mattered for her parents. Her mother didn’t manage to stay home for longer than 3 months. She hated breastfeeding her, changing her, bathing her, or putting her to sleep.  She just hated having a baby. She would only leave her laying on bed while she would try all of her clothes, tight jeans and dresses, to see if she can fit in them still, just to show her how much she hated her for ruining her body.

Emily hadn’t met yet her mother’s “other” side. She only saw the woman who gave her life, who was talking to her and so she always smiled. One day Emily rolled and fell off the bed. She wasn’t three months old yet. The stitches above her eyebrow left her a little scar that gave her this ironic look she has today. The one that makes you think that she lifts her eyebrow in purpose, to mock you. She does it sometimes, but not always as I first thought.

Emily soon learned how to pass unnoticed around the house. When she was only three or four years old, she would wake up in an empty and dead silent house, with a glass of cold milk on the table and clothes on a chair. No sign of her parents. She would drink the cold milk and get dressed up, stay in her room and play until she could hear the keys on the door.

emly01_400While growing up she knew how much time she had until someone returned home. So she would wander around the house, open and close cabinets and drawers, looking at everything she would never dare to look or touch when her mother was around. Always very careful. She would touch her mother’s clothes, try her shoes, find her dad’s gun in the drawer (but never touch that), and their love letters. She always knew where they were and first thing when she learned to read was to wait for the right chance to read them.

Most of them were boring poems. All about love and loss. Letters from one to the other and after sometime Emily could tell that her parents must have been young, in love and not married yet when they wrote them. So much love, so much pain. All of their love in a box of butter cookies. And there they had stayed forever.

Emily became really good in acting unnoticed and being invisible to avoid trouble. Still, sometimes it seemed that trouble would come her anyway to find her.  The trouble had always a name and it was her mother. And when her mother decided that it was Emily’s fault, then her fault it was.

She was again in her parents’ bedroom, with the drawer wide open and the cookie box on the floor. She was careful and methodical. She would read the letters in order and place them back in the box, exactly the same way they were. She had memorize the order and the position like a still picture in front of her eyes. She had already read most of them except the last few in the bottom. She read them quickly. They were all the same boring letters full of love words, imaginary hugging and kisses. Ewww. 

She carefully picked the pile of letters and put them on the floor next to the box, careful not to move anything. She took the last one from the bottom and noticed it was in a yellowish envelope that smelled a little like moss. It was the only letter in an envelope. No address, no name. She opened it slowly, took the letter out and unfolded it, but it was too long. Three pages long and she had no time to read it. She had been there for too long already. She held it in her hands, looking at it, recognizing her mother’s round handwriting, trying to decide what to do with it. She was really curious and that moment she decided she couldn’t wait for the next time. She put it in her pocket so she could take it in her room and hide it behind a plank under her bed. After all she didn’t think that her mom read these letters every day to notice that one of them was missing.

She would put it back the next time. But she drove away that thought. Not very smart. Emily wasn’t a luck pusher. At least not in that age. She will push her luck to its limits very soon and it would become a habit, but for now she was only a little girl that could pee on her pants only with the thought of getting caught by her mother messing with her stuff. So she put the pile of letters back in the box, put the box back in the drawer and closed it.

She gave a last look on the bedroom’s chiffonier and her eyes fell on her mother’s perfume bottle and body lotions. She hesitated for a moment and then she sat on the white melamine stool. She opened them all, one by one, smelling them, breathing deeply to suck all of their scent and then she put them back, exactly the way they were. There were so many of them. Her mother spends hours taking care of herself, putting on lotions, perfumes and make up. Emily left the cologne for the end.


“I remember that day. I even remember the cologne, although it’s been so long since then. It was a blue diamond shaped bottle with a crystal red cap. The name was Loulou. It smelled like flowers and sweet summer nights. I opened the cap and took a deep breath from the bottle. I carefully put it down and then I heard the keys at the door. I panicked. I still don’t know if she came back earlier or if I had been carried away with her cosmetics.

emly02_400I remember I tried to put the cap on the bottle with shaking hands and it rolled on the chiffonier; dripping a single drop on the white melamine. That was the first mistake that got me in trouble. I swiped it with my sleeve, making the second mistake. The scent was too strong not to pass unnoticed by her.

I left everything in place and gave a last look in terror, to make sure I was safe. I ran to my room and grabbed my blanket. Then I got under my bed. The door opened and closed. I could hardly hear her footsteps; The frenzy heartbeat inside me, was bouncing so hard at the floor as I laid down so loud that I thought she could hear it. I held my breath and waited.

Time passed and she didn’t show up, she didn’t even come to the door to check for me as she usually did. She wouldn’t care if she saw me under the bed. She knew I loved staying down there. Everything was quiet, so I relaxed and loosened my senses. I forgot about the letters and the colognes, I folded my blanket and put it in the back corner of the bed.

I was ready to leave my safe place when I suddenly saw her feet in front of me, she leaned and grabbed my hair and pulled me out. “YOU SPILLED MY COLOGNE!” she yelled, spitting on my face. Her eyes where just black circles in their sockets. “What were you doing in MY room?” She asked me while shaking my head. “Why did you have to mess with MY stuff??” She shook me so hard and then pulled her hand so fast and with such force that my hair remained in her closed fist while I was thrown to the other side of the room. I put my hand on my head and when I looked it had tiny red dots of blood from where my hair where missing.”


She looked at her mother in terror and then remembered the third mistake she had made that same day. She had never put the letter back. Without taking her eyes from her mother, she put her hand behind her back and touched her bloated pocket.

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