She taught them to check beneath the leaves, for thorns, for creeping things. One never knew what lurked beneath velvet petals. Small acts of vigilance were required to keep their hallowed home free of barb and crawling invader.
Dutiful children, they snapped thorn and squashed spider, presenting clean blooms to their mother. Oft she wove them into her pale hair. The bundles and bouquets brightened the foyer, her writing room, and the halls.
Until the flowers bent on their stems and rotted in their stagnant water, at which they were taken out of the house, discarded of, and replaced.
Beautiful things dull in winter. So too did their mother one season. The children harvested jasmine and pansies from the greenhouse. They tried to weave the pristine blossoms in her pale hair as she rested. The brittle strands came away in their fingers.
Upon spring, when the icy snowdrops emerged, the flowers they plucked for her could not hide the smell of rot growing in her bed. They buried her when the ground thawed, beneath the dirt with the creeping things.
The family returned to the house, their new mother arrived with the summer. Her hair was dark russet, her smile bright like the sun. She aired the old mother’s bedroom. The stench faded, replaced with fresh air and honeysuckle.
The children never offered her bouquets or daisy chains. They watched her pluck peony, rose, and iris with her careless fingers. Their games were distant quiet things, softly whispering behind the dusty greenhouse, or running off only to return at sundown. When kept inside by rain or wind, she shied from them and their memory laden eyes, gifting sweets and carved things for the sake of peace.
One late summer day, when the season was almost gone, they returned the offering. Her smile blossomed as the children returned one day with their arms overflowing with wild rose, mandevilla, and morning glory. She swept her skirts behind her, kneeling so they could weave the flowers into her thick dark hair.
Never had such a crown been constructed, braided and twined about her lovely brow. She wore it like a queen, embracing the children with a laugh before releasing them into the gardens to play.
There was no smell, no fading creeping rot this time. They found her still on the garden steps, beautiful and dead as a pressed flower.
It was a bite, the doctors said, perhaps a spider or other venomous thing. The garden was likely crawling with the invaders and the children should be taught to check beneath the petals.
This week it was I who challenged Raw Rambles to write to the “Burn The Witch” by Queens of the Stone Age.