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Finding her Again.

by Matthew Puzycki 11 months ago in Short Story
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A tale of lost lovers.

James dawdled through the meadow trying to find the right ones. To anyone else, the marigold flowers around him would have looked fairly similar, but he needed them to be perfect. He bent towards a group on his right and plucked a dozen flowers with his hand, lifting them up to his face, and taking a deep breath in through his nose.

They smelled the part, but he examined them further and each of them had their imperfections. Some of them weren’t round enough, others weren’t full enough, and a final one wasn’t bright enough. In the end, only one of them was fitting enough to go in his left hand, joining the others he had collected so far. He had gathered over a dozen already, but he wasn’t sure how many he needed. Perhaps, he would only stop when he could no longer fit them in his hand.

Others might say he was being too particular, anything would do, but he wanted the best for her. He was telling Alice that he loved her tonight, just like he had a decade earlier. He sat down in the middle of the field now, drowning in the marigolds as he thought about that evening.

He and Alice were only fourteen at the time. He had told his father he was picking up a shift at the cinema, and she said she would be staying at a friend’s house. Instead, they met at Shadow Point Park for a romantic picnic in the middle of the forest. It ended up being one of the best days of his life. They picked berries along their path, took a nap in a tall grassy field, and even stripped down to their underwear to go swimming by the waterfall.

Each moment had been better than the last, but the one that stood out most was their kiss in the meadow. He plucked one of the flowers and told her to close her eyes and smell it, but she must have known what he really intended. It was a first kiss for both of them, and it was magical.

A tear started to fall down his cheek as he thought about that year. Her dad got a job across the country a few months later, and although she told him she loved him, they grew apart when she moved away. He thought it was over. He had tried to move on with his life, but somewhere in the back of his mind, he always felt like she was the one for him. His heart fluttered and his pulse started to race when he ran into her a few months ago. He couldn’t believe she was back in his life, and he refused to let her go again.

It’s why the flowers had to be perfect. Knowing Alice, she would have liked anything at all, but he had twelve years to make up for, and he wanted to make her feel special tonight. As he gathered the rest of the marigolds, ending up with over thirty perfect flowers, he rehearsed what he was going to say to her.

“When we ran into each other a few months ago,” he began aloud, pacing in the field, “Your smile … your eyes … they lit up like nothing I have ever—”

He stopped suddenly and one of the flowers slipped from his hand. “That’s not right. I can do better.”

Perhaps, he would pick up a poetry book on the way over. But what words could possibly imitate the feelings he had for her, the connection they shared?

“When you moved away, you were gone, but your spirit never left my heart.”

He tosses the rest of the marigolds at his feet.

“That’s the corniest thing I’ve ever heard,” he said, shaking his head and rubbing his temples with his hand, “Two souls wandering through this endless void, hoping we would make contact again … awful.”

He ripped a flower from the earth now and crushed the pedals with his palms, coating his fingers red as he rehearsed his speech.

“Your lips are like the” —he paused and slapped himself across the face—“No you won’t talk about her lips, you fool.”

“From the moment I took your ticket at the cinema to this very day, I have felt nothing but—” he stood up now and kicked a thorn bush by his side, causing his leg to bleed beneath his dark black pants, “What is wrong with you? How about something simple, but real, something—”

He stared down at the marigold flowers and smiled, “I’ve got it.”

He grabbed the pile at his feet and hurried through the meadow back to his car, which was waiting by itself in the parking lot. He was relieved he didn’t run into any forest rangers on the way back; there were plenty of signs about it being illegal to pick the flowers.

“Oops,” he said to himself quietly as he placed them in a vase on his passenger seat.

The vase was extremely wobbly as he drove to her house, and he needed to drive with one hand to stop it from toppling over and spilling onto his leather seat. She would be sitting there later, and he would hate to ruin whatever dress she picked out for the evening.

He was currently wearing a blue dress shirt and fine black pants, but he questioned whether he should have gotten a suit. Dinner reservations at Edward’s Italiano Restaurant were hard to come by, and he heard they had a very strict dress code.

As he approached Alice’s yellow house in her quiet suburban neighborhood, his heart started to race again as he tried to unscramble the words he had come up with earlier in the day. He pulled up behind her black minivan and put the car in park. He gathered himself for a few seconds and fixed his hair in the mirror.

Holding the flowers behind his back, he walked slowly towards the door, and Alice opened it before he even reached the first step, looking as beautiful as the day they met at the cinema all those years ago. She was smiling, and her blue eyes matched her thin shirt.

He brought his hand forward now, showing off the bright yellow and orange flowers, “I brought you these, Alice.”

She shut the door behind her and stared at him with open arms.

“Why did you do that?”

“Because you deserve them, Alice. You deserve the world. I was trying to think about what to say today, but these last few months since I saw you have been the greatest months of my life. They’ve given me hope again, they’ve made me feel love again, they’ve—”

“James, I told you to stop.”

“I can’t stop loving you, Alice.”

Alice looked back towards the door for a second before facing him again, reaching her hand into her pants and grabbing her phone, “I told you I was married.”

“Yes, but I could tell you wanted out. I could tell you didn’t really love him.”


“Don’t fight this, Alice.”

“You’re delusional. We haven’t seen in each other in ten years. I’m married, I have two kids.”

“But is it the same as what we had?”

“You need help, James. Do you really believe our two dates that we had at fourteen years old would be enough for me to leave my family?”

“But when I saw you... I felt it in your eyes.”

“It was a nice memory, but that’s all it was, a silly high school romance,” said Alice, backing up slowly and placing her hand on the doorknob, “I am going inside now, and if you’re not gone in a few minutes, I have to call the police.”

She opened the door and slipped inside, but before she could shut it, James snuck his hand through the crack and slammed it open. He grabbed her hand and pulled it toward him, “It wasn’t silly to me.”

Alice screamed and James heard more yelling in the background, but he didn’t take any notice. This was his chance. “I loved you. I’ve always loved you.”

“You need to move on!”

Alice tore away from his grasp and ran up the stairs, her phone to her ears. James stayed there for a second and stared at her, a small grin forming on his face, “You always played hard to get.”

“There is a stalker in my home. I need help immediately. Please,” screamed Alice, running further into the kitchen. James watched on quietly as she grabbed a knife from one of the drawers and pointed it at him.

“You didn’t like the flowers?” he asked, holding them out in front of him.

“Please leave,” said Alice. She seemed genuinely upset. She was crying and her hand was shaking.

This was going to take longer than he thought.

“Take the flowers, and put them in a nice vase,” said James, calmly.

“Please leave!”

“Take the flowers and I will leave.”

She put the knife away and approached him cautiously. Her hand was shaking as she grabbed the marigolds from him and brought them back into the kitchen. “I took them … now go.”

“Find a vase for them.”

Still trembling, she managed to find a vase in one of the drawers above the sink. She took it out and placed the flowers in them.

“They look beautiful,” said James, turning towards the door, “I’ll bring you more soon.”

“Don’t ever come back,” said Alice as he made his way out the front door.

He heard sirens approaching, so he quickly made his way back to his car, and backed out of the driveway, accidentally knocking over the mailbox as he left.

“I’ll replace that,” he screamed out the window. As he drove away, a cop car whizzed by and parked out in front of her driveway.

“I hope everything’s okay,” he murmured to himself.

As he drove back to his apartment, he analyzed the situation further, and decided that it could have gone worse; she did let him in her home after all.

Perhaps, it was the flowers. Maybe she doesn’t like marigolds?

“I’ll get roses next time,” he said to himself, glad that he had come up with another plan to see her, “And they’ll look perfect.”

He parked in his driveway and took a deep breath before leaving his car. It still smelled like marigolds, and he could imagine her sniffing in the same aroma back in her kitchen. The thought excited him.

But what if her husband got home and tried to throw them out?

He must have been the reason she was so hesitant today. It can be difficult to leave abusive relationships, thought James.

“I’ll have to take care of him,” he whispered to himself, “Then she won’t have to pretend anymore.”

He stared down at his hand with a twinkle in his eyes, and noticed his fingers were still red from earlier. It looked like blood.

He shrugged it off and walked inside.

Short Story

About the author

Matthew Puzycki

Licensed Clinical Social worker and author. I have currently published one young adult novel on Amazon, entitled Forming the Javelin. I am also working on my second book, another YA about a secret psychic society. Thanks for the support!

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