By Mark Tremble
‘Sam, look at the flowers!’ Daisy said.
Sam looked. The flowers, although only a few among hundreds in that pocket of the city’s gardens, were changing colour.
This was all they’d promised, Sam thought. And more.
Daisy was happy. Time away together, at last.
This morning began at another small, quaint café. It was their second since they’d entered the city, passing through the ivy-covered gates, beheld immediately by its old-world charm.
After breakfast, he sat inside a while, more coffee and the paper, or papers. Daisy went next door, returning with her new scarf and a first edition for him.
A light, warm breeze played off the river as they walked, and it seemed to follow them as they paused to kiss on the bridges, and as they strolled along boulevards. Similarly, it waited for them to return after they ducked into antique stores and lingered in galleries. Their welcome, patient companion.
Daisy saw him pause in front of a restaurant and promised they’d be back for dinner. She suggested something light to tide him over and his favourite old movie in the afternoon.
They found a bistro tucked cosily in one of the city’s laneways. Sam sat next to her in the booth, ignoring the menu, looking only at her, feeling the warmth of her hand. So, they went back to the room, the food and the old cinema long forgotten. Dinner kept for another night as well.
‘Look, there they are again,’ she said, pointing to the flowers. Sam looked. The flower petals bled, first pink, then blue, and red.
‘Don’t!’ another voice, cracked, full of warning, said as if directly into his ear.
Sam turned and the voice’s cold hand gripped his arm. He broke free, stiffly, regretting his strength as he looked into an older woman’s eyes.
‘They took him. The flowers,’ she said.
‘What?’ he said, rattled, looking to Daisy for help. ‘Wait.’
‘Sam,’ Daisy said, low and anxious. ‘Come on.’
The older woman’s lip shuddered and she began to back away. ‘Go from here,’ she said.
Daisy had Sam’s arm, trying to move him. He went but as he glanced back, his eyes registered two darker shapes move from behind tall hedges and disappear with the woman.
Grimy clouds slithered across the early afternoon sky. A cold wind scattered rain and dead leaves in their path as it chased them back to the room, beneath the covers, tired but wide awake, whispering like sinners.
‘In the morning?’ she asked, although not needing to.
‘Early,’ he said. He felt her come closer, as if that were even possible. ‘We’ll be okay. We’ll be okay.’
At the place where the grand entrance gate had welcomed them three days earlier, they stood and looked at the wall of green, like the solid flesh of some gargantuan verdant beast.
‘No,’ Daisy said, her voice a whimper.
‘Wait, please?’ Sam asked, but the dark figures closed quickly around them.
In the gardens the flowers watched, unchanging.
About The Author
Mark Tremble is a teacher and sometime writer. He loves being at home with his wife and, now, two daughters.