January 2019 Blog Battle
Our word this month is:
BlogBattle for January 2019
Here’s a little something I wrote just for #BlogBattle
Blue Ribbons and Flowers
Her anxious face turned to me, eyes dark and cheeks still rounded with childhood.
“Is it okay if I pick flowers, Mama?”
I looked around at the city street, wet and barren. The struggling plants next to the sidewalk were covered in small blossoms. Geraniums. Their bright red flowers must have caught her eye.
I shrugged. “Sure, honey.”
She bent down and plucked a single stem. We continued our stroll. A rose bush, mostly devoid of leaves, still had some buds. Sharp Eyes spotted them and a white rose bud was added to her growing handful. Her sister skipped ahead, oblivious to everything but whatever thoughts filled her head. Her leaping strides over puddles made me smile. She reminded me of a deer.
Sharp Eyes grabbed a few more sidewalk flowers then spotted a piece of blue ribbon.
“Can I use this in my bouquet? Would that be good?”
Her expression gave me pause. What was going on in her young mind?
“What are you making your bouquet for?”
She turned her face away and was silent. I put my arm around her shoulder. Blue ribbons hung from tree trunks and metal poles all along the street. With a sinking heart, I realized what she was doing. “Is the bouquet for the police officer who died?”
Shock still reverberated through our little town. A pretty young police officer had been shot and killed not far from our house. The sirens screamed past our house a few nights ago, more than we’d ever heard. We had been baffled by the commotion but the girls had gone to bed that night without finding out that there was an active shooter in our neighborhood. He had shot the policewoman then ran. No one knew where he was until after midnight. We tried to keep calm the next day but were too shocked to keep the evening’s events from the girls.
Sharp Eyes nodded. “I want to put it on her grave–”
“You mean the shrine on the street?”
The day after the shooting, we had driven by the spot where the policewoman had been killed and there were piles of flowers and signs. So of course the girls had questions. We were walking in that area now but I hadn’t intended to go by. It was too hard to see the outpouring of grief from the community. I felt uncomfortable, awkward. I didn’t know her so what right did I have to join in the public mourning? My daughter seemed to feel differently.
The three of us reached the park and Sharp Eyes sat down at a picnic table to assemble her bouquet, complete with its blue ribbon. I walked around and around, unable to keep still.
We walked through the park and there, under the oak tree where I had been married, was another monument to the town’s grief. There had been a candlelight vigil a couple of nights before and the candles were still burning. Blue ribbons festooned the stone steps and a giant portrait of a smiling young woman was propped up in the middle of candles and flowers.
“Why don’t you put your bouquet down with the others, sweetheart?”
She smiled and carefully placed it among the plastic-wrapped florist bouquets, cards, glass jarred candles, and a full bottle of coke. I winced a little. So the dead woman had loved coke. Someone who knew and loved her had placed that on this impromptu shrine. I pictured her sitting and laughing with friends, drinking coke out of bottles together.
“Okay, girls, let’s go.”
I couldn’t bear being there any longer. My child and her simple sadness shamed my conflicted feelings. They skipped away, shouting and pushing at each other.
“Look, you can see your bouquet all the way from here! It’s that bright red spot!”
They ran, a couple of deer leaping across the grass.