Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: SHOP (01/03/19)
May texted her sister. “Hey April. So sorry. Can’t make it tonight. Have the worst headache of my life. Need to lie down. Love you.” Even though her head throbbed, May chuckled at her parents’ odd sense of humor. Good thing we didn’t arrive in triplicate. I might also have June for a sister. Customers thought their monikers were delightful – identical twins, one born April 30th and the other seven minutes later on May 1st, business partners in a flower shop named Spring Blossoms – what could be more chic, except maybe Lily and Rose. She shuddered at the thought.
April remembered gathering flowers to adorn their table for Christmas Eve dinner - white tulips and sweetly-scented white heather, pungent eucalyptus, velvety dusty miller, and May’s favorite flower at Christmas time, star of Bethlehem. She slowly opened her eyes. Or did she? Her mind registered only darkness and excruciating pain. Her body ached. She shivered and discovered her arms folded across her chest, tied at the wrists; her legs loosely bound at the knees and ankles. Get up, she willed, rolling onto her left hip, propping herself up on one elbow. Now what? A wave of nausea pushed her back to the hard floor. Like a baby in the womb, she curled forward; then lost consciousness.
May curled up on her side under a heavy down comforter. Her hip and shoulder sank appreciatively into the soft pillow-top mattress. Soon the nausea subsided. Was this a migraine? Or something worse. An internet search had offered a variety of rare and frightening possibilities. After calculating her risks, she decided to try to sleep through the symptoms, hoping the pain medicine would knock her out for the night. She thought of April, eating alone on Christmas Eve.
April woke up, gradually. The bold fragrance of Casa Blanca lilies penetrated her awareness, then subtle notes of cedar and spruce. Where am I? She took a shallow breath. Think. Then it registered - the lilies for Bethany’s funeral, inside the storage cooler. Where is May?
May woke up abruptly, looked at the clock and bolted out of bed; barely aware of her headache but acutely aware that she had less than an hour to pick up the funeral flowers and deliver them to the church. She quickly dressed and hurried to the delivery van, hoping it would start in this bitter cold.
April cried out to God. Who would do this to me?
I am with you, He answered.
She strained to see in the darkness. Still hoping to escape, her fingers weakly caressed the satin ribbon binding her wrists.
In my presence you will have joy, He comforted.
April sighed, relinquishing all effort to free herself, knowing May would soon join her.
May parked the van and rushed inside. She didn’t see the star of Bethlehem by the front door, or notice the empty cash drawer and missing laptop. May never heard the text alert on her sister’s phone. She opened the cooler and found April lying on the floor, looking up, eyes fixed on the future; her long black hair floating in a pool of crimson. Cedar and spruce and fragrant white lilies surrounded and blanketed her body. May’s silent scream ended with a gasp - when her heart stopped beating and she crumpled into a heap - onto the blanket of cedar and spruce and fragrant white lilies.
April traveled through the curtain of crystal snowflakes; noting a unique fragrance, penetrating and sweet. May was with her and they walked, hand-in-hand, into the dancing aurora.
Psalm 16:11 You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Amplified Bible
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