Rainey Daze and Crazy Nights

Poetry, Paintings, and Ponderings: Through My Eyes

The Destruction of Flowering Bushes April 22, 2012


This fiction writing deals with death and suicide. If this upsets or offends you, please do not read. I do not want this to upset anyone, or trigger bad thoughts or memories.

Craig pushed his body down into the mattress trying to make his body as small as possible. He wanted to simply disappear. He pulled the plaid bedspread over his head while pressing his hands tightly against his ears but nothing could block out the image burned into his brain or the sound that he still heard ringing in his head. He finally leaned over, stretched his arm down and felt under his mattress. His fingers grasped the Ipod and headphones that had become his refuge as of late. He shoved the ear buds into each ear with one hand then turned on the music with practiced ease. The sound of Nirvana filled his head, replacing the screaming voices from before. He settled back on his bed and prayed for blissful sleep. Sleep would not cooperate, however. Not even Nirvana could keep his thoughts from traveling back to the horrible incidents of the day.

His day had started just fine. It was Saturday, so he slept in until 10:00, then got up and readied himself for the day. It was the beginning of spring, so Craig knew he had outside chores to do.  He went out without being told to pull weeds in all the flowerbeds in the front yard. He could hear his mom vacuuming the house, first downstairs in the living room and then upstairs in the bedrooms. His dad was at work, as usual. It seemed that his dad was either at work or off with his buddies more than he was at home these days. His sister, Leia, was still in bed. She had been in bed for the past three days, coming out only to go to the bathroom.

Craig surveyed the yard. The flowers were just beginning to bloom on the multitude of bushes in the flowerbeds. He could see little buds of pale pink, white, and deep purple erupting on spindly limbs. He and Leia helped plant most of the bushes just a few years ago when they first moved to this house on Maxwell Street. They were just little kids then. Leia was 7 and Craig was 6 when their parents bought the “fixer-upper” 3 bedroom house. To the two kids, the house seemed like a mansion because it had such tall windows and high, 12 foot ceilings. Over the years their parents had pounded and painted and decorated until the “fixer-upper” became a showcase. Craig and Leia had helped, as much as small children can help, and they were all proud of the house and yard.

Walking to the backyard, Craig noticed a lone flowering bush along the back edge of their property. As always, it brought a sad smile to his face. This bush marked the grave of a beloved family cat, Theo. Well, he was supposed to be a family pet, Craig thought to himself, but we all knew Theo belonged to Leia. As some animals do, Theo picked one family member to belong to, and it was Leia. Leia was the only one who could ever get Theo to come when called. They used to play a game called “Run, Theo, Run” where each member of the family would stand at the door at night and call for Theo to come. First his dad would try, then his mom. They would both call in sweet voices, but no Theo. Next, Craig would try. Nothing. Leia would stand back, giggling, knowing Theo would not respond to any of them. Dad would then give a fake exasperated sigh and say, “Oh, Leia, go ahead and try. But you know he will not come!” Smiling and giggling, Leia would step forward and yell, “Here, Theo!” Within a matter of seconds, Theo was a black streak running toward the door. We all hammed it up, exclaiming, “No way!” and “How do you do that?” while Leia scooped him up and grinned broadly. Then one day when Leia was 13, Theo did not come when she called. They later found him under the rosebush. He passed away peacefully; it seemed, of old age. Leia was inconsolable. She was always a little high-strung and dramatic, but this put Leia in a state of deep depression that took a visit to the doctor and a bottle of pills to overcome. That was the first of many bouts of depression that stole his sister.

That’s how it seemed to Craig. The depression slowly stole his sister’s very soul. Leia was happy, upbeat and fun; she was the life of any party and could always make him laugh. Then, without any warning, the dark blanket would descend and Leia was lost. A vacant-eyed shell of Leia replaced his fun-loving sister and nothing could bring her back. It would last for hours, days, or weeks, and then very slowly, Leia would come back to them. To Craig, however, she never appeared the same. Each time the depression took over and she finally emerged, she seemed a slightly paler version of herself. It was as if her once-vibrant colors became watered down, less intense, each time. Craig felt helpless as he watched his sister slowly fade.

Standing and looking at the budding bush, Craig had an idea. He ran to the garden shed and picked up the clippers and a basket. He roamed the yard, carefully selecting several stems of flowers and buds. He clipped them and placed each one in the basket. With the basket filled with the vibrate colors, he took it to the kitchen and rummaged under the sink for a large vase. Craig filled the vase with water then haphazardly stuck the blooms into the water. Arranging flowers was not really his thing, but he did the best he could. Maybe, he thought, allowing himself to feel some excitement, this will cheer her up. Maybe she will want to go with me to clean the flower beds in the backyard and we can throw acorns and wish on dandelions like we used to. Craig didn’t even clean up the mess in the kitchen; he grabbed the vase and held it out carefully as he ran up the stairs. At the top of the stairs he turned left to Leia’s door. He knocked quietly on her door because when depressed she didn’t like sudden, loud noises. Craig listened closely, but didn’t hear a sound. He knocked a little louder and softly called her name. Still he heard no response. This time, he spoke a bit louder. “Hey, sis, it’s me and I’m coming in!”  Craig placed his hand on the doorknob and turned, but the door was locked. That was not unusual. They had both locked their doors to keep each other out and gain some privacy for the past several years. Craig simply did what he always did when locked out; he stepped into his own room across the hall, grabbed his middle school I.D. card, and used it to pop the lock. When he heard the resounding click of the lock, he knocked one more time to give her time to get decent before he entered. This time he whispered, “I’ve got something for you, Leia. Wait until you see this!”

The door swung open to expose the dump his sister called her room. When she was younger, Leia kept her room spotless. As depression robbed more and more of her soul she cared less and less about her surroundings, and her room was evidence of this lack of caring. Piles of dirty clothes mingled with books and papers that covered the floor. Her bed was just a tangled lump of pillows, covers, and stuffed animals. The closed blinds and drapes kept out most of the morning sun, so it was hard to make out her shape in the bed. Craig stepped in the room, trying to avoid the towering mounds on the floor. He made his way to the bed, holding out his offering and calling her name. When he reached the bed, he saw it was empty. A sudden chill ran up his spine. Something told him things were not right. Something was wrong, really wrong. Craig turned slowly, glancing around the room. A noise, or maybe a movement, caught his eye and made him look toward Leia’s closet. The door was standing open. There, placed perfectly in the center of the closet rod, was Leia, hanging from a noose. Craig stood without moving, without breathing for what seemed a lifetime. His feet rooted to the floor, he still held his arm out stupidly holding the vase of flowers. Then he heard an inhuman sound somewhere nearby. He thought it might be his sister, struggling to breathe. Somehow he began moving, thinking he had to save her. It wasn’t too late. He could still hear the sound…it must be her, I can help her. Suddenly he stopped. He forced himself to look at her. Leia was swinging very slightly as if a breeze was blowing, but she was not moving. She was not struggling to breath. She was dead. He realized at that moment the sound he heard, that inhuman wail, was coming from his own lips. A few seconds later another sound joined his own. His mom entered the room with wild frantic eyes. She saw Leia and a high-pitched shriek emitted from her mouth. Still screaming and wailing they joined forces and managed to get Leia down from the closet and place her on her bed.

Everything else that happened that day became a blur that Craig could not remember. As he lay in bed all he could see was his sister’s body with her empty eyes. He heard the screams of his own voice and then his mom’s voice. He thought about how stupid he was, to think that some dumb flowers would be enough to make her feel better. Craig was suddenly filled with a burning, white-hot anger that propelled him from his bed. He ran, stumbling, down the stairs into the kitchen. The garden clippers were there, on the end of the bar, beside the stacks of dishes and food that well-meaning neighbors brought over when they heard the news. He grabbed the clippers without breaking stride and bolted out the back door. He didn’t even stop long enough to open the gate, but instead vaulted over it. When he saw the first bush, he stopped. A roar escaped his throat as he attacked the bush like a madman. Using the clippers and even his bare hands, Craig destroyed it. Anger still boiled in his blood, so he moved on to the next bush, and then the next and the next. He was roaring and screaming, ripping the once beautiful bushes into shreds. Suddenly knocked off his feet, he felt strong arms wrap around his body. He tried to fight but the anger that had quickly enveloped him left just as quickly. Craig realized it was his dad who held him as they both collapsed to the ground. They held each other, both crying helplessly, for several minutes. After a while the crying subsided, and they just sat there arms wrapped tightly around one another. Craig felt drained and leaned heavily on his dad as they struggled to their feet and into the house. His mom stood at the door with red-rimmed eyes. She stood on one side of him and his dad stood on the other as they made their way up the stairs. Without a word spoken, the three of them stepped into his parent’s bedroom. His parents placed Craig gently on their bed. His mom slipped in on one side while his dad walked around the other side and slipped into bed. Both his mom and dad wrapped themselves around him and held him tightly. Together, the three of them finally drifted off to sleep.

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12 Responses to “The Destruction of Flowering Bushes”

  1. Anita S Says:

    So sad, but a very well written story.

  2. compelling work here…not for the faint of heart and at the same time such a real view of life

  3. Bethany Says:

    Rainey, I must say I’m quite speechless. I really don’t know what to say other than… this is one of the best things I’ve read yet in the blogosphere. I don’t think anything has made me feel the way this did. Absolutely brilliant.

    Love to you!
    -Bethany


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