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In The Poppy Field

by Mai-le Tang 4 months ago in Short Story

Is it a hazy dream or a fitful sleep that brings no rest. Those delicate stalks have such a heavy beauty to them.

It almost felt surreal starring out onto the what was a sea off vermillion. Swaying delicate stalks of sleepy hypnotic petals of scarlet blush, as fingers brushing mindless against the bristles of soft fuzz and dainty petals.

Golden ray flitted across earthen hues dusting those cheeks a youthful golden glow. Stuck in a haze of half-lidded eyelids, silence surrounded them as if in a drunken stupor. The sweet decay hung heavy in the air, a familiar scent that clung to memories of old. Sun beams bounced across her sun-kissed skin just like the earthen soil that inlaid those very same poppies that were propped in the crook of her arm.

That smile of hers was an addicting bright and sweet. It only seemed like yesterday where they were running with a child-like carelessness. Cutting through the seamless field like fabric scissors her mother wielded with such skill. Calloused and worn hands handled each fabric, as if it were to be offerings. The scent of poppy oil evoke feelings of warmth and comfort with each waft. A hazy floral scent that bordered that off a skin-like powdery residue.

Red had always looked amazing on her capturing her unbridled attention to the present. Living only in the present and enjoying that singular to the fullest, it was she untamed love for life that was dazzling about her.

It wasn't long until she had taken up that pair of scissors herself. Seeing her less and less, it was as if the days meshed and melded with one another as if it were one big psychosis dream.

It was strange one day. There was that usual beautiful energy that she seemed to carry as if it were her greatest armour, but it was slightly different quality to it. It was a familiar sight, as many motley groups have visited this very poppy field. The movement of love was very different. Those glancing gazes and soft smiles that directed to it particular target.

Rain battered the poor soul. Red textiles lined her body, those tear soaked cheeks faced a blurred figure of her subject of affection. Its form began to distort and twist before sinking heavily to her knees. It seemed the element were mourning her loss with her. Those stalks hung sunken and drooping. That bright red fabric darken to a sullen maroon hung onto her body in a suffocatingly tight hug as an attempt to comfort her.

That fabric fell in a heavy splat pooling in its own puddle. Water prints marked the wooden plank that creaked with every step she took to her workspace. An organised chao that could only be navigated by her. Her in a violent sweep of her arm, as bolts of fabric and rolls of thread clattered to the floor only bringing about a chao even she herself couldn't navigate. Mindless rage fuelled her limbs, as strangled cries and sobs came from her form. A surge of coughs racked her petite form violently like a leaf in a storm

A bottle spilled its contents. That familiar scent flooded the room, its effect instantaneous. It's scent heavy and pungent. Scrambling to the small bottle in an attempt to salvage whatever was left. The oil soaked the wooden plank with its permanence. Her hands slick with the scent, as she sat helplessly holding that small bottle only a third filled with oil.

She had approached the vendor. But she couldn't find it within herself to actually refill the bottle, it was supposed to be an easy replacement. But she ambled defeated with the bottle in hand, returning home... was it really home anymore?

Tear streamed down her cheeks, as she gazed out of her window. Her heart tightening. Those windows illuminating with a warm light. A distant sound of love and family, all long memories to her now. Only her house greets her with an echoing silence and a chilly environment even in the heat of the height of summer. Sinking into her woven blankets and thin pillows, she curled up in bed holding that bottle.

Plumes of herbal smoke filled the tiny room. Tidying her workspace took much longer than she intended, it seemed that those supposed bolts of fabric grew ever more heavier. Sadness came to her much often and exhaustion seem to have its claws sinking into her. There were some days where getting out of bed was impossible.

Wheezing gasps filled the room. As she curled in pain, the pain surged from her chest. Sleep didn't come easy. If at all.

Poundings on her door reverberated, as a woman of the village has come to check up on the poor girl. Gasps and panic filled the room. It was blur, as if the world around her moved and her standing still.

She found herself orientated once again. But in a strange place. Lifting the skirt of the dress she was donned in, it's soft texture and was the colour of pure snow. The hallway was also strange to herself. The floor cold to the touch and blinding white streaking with ripples of grey like the ocean that overlook her village cliffs. The windows shows a much stranger scenery, only clouds and cranes gliding through air drafts with a might beat of their wings.

A young gentleman appeared with a soft smile and dress impeccably. A clean linen shirt with a grey waistcoat. In his arms, a bouquet of flowers. Poppies. His face was always there. He was always there at the poppy field she frequented. Answering any question, no matter how silly it was. Always at a distance. Always smiling.

The only other time she ever saw him was went he stared down the bodies of departed loved one. Before giving the bodies a bouquet of poppies, not all of the time, but then leaving and never to be seen again.

She had begged and pleaded. Gripping the edges of his waistcoat, tears streaming like rivers. But there was no smile for her, only passing through her and to her mother. She could only watch, before he disappeared. Leaving her to wail and grief, as she clutched her mother's colourful sash staining her. They lowered the body into a grave.

"You have come to collect my soul."

"It is unfortunately your time. Your grief... your body couldn't take it anymore."

"I cannot go... not yet."

"You have lingered along the border long enough. There is nothing for you to return to anymore."

"But... my mother's legacy."

"Death is has no eyes. Young... Old... Poor... Rich... A saint... or a monster. It matter not to death for they are the same beings."


For once the man had no answer for her question. He pulls out a shimmering gold pocket watch from his pristine breast pocket, it hangs from a delicately thin golden chain that threatens to snap. It opens, the soft sound of the clock tick away. Her eyes stare curious at such a beautiful object, she has never seen such a marvellous item in her life. It made her world seem so tactless.

Before he places the pocket watch tentatively back into his pocket hidden from her sight again. He pinches off the pure untainted white gloves, revealing hands marred with scars that glowed a sinister red that that looked like crackling molten. "Come walk with me."

She hesitates. Her terracotta hued fingers settle into his much paler hand. Its rough and human, despite all the tales that depict Death.

"So you are Death?"

"Merely a scion of him. Easily replaceable and forgotten."

Her eyebrow quirks upwards, as she furrowed her brain for answer but nothing comes. "So you are?"

He merely smiles. "Simply put, yes."

As they amble down the startling blinding hallways, the hallways seem to darken. Jagged shards of memories wave pass them.

Her running to the comfort of her mother's remedies... Playing with the local puppies in the poppy fields... Learning to sew... Her mother passing... Smoke pluming around her, as she inhales addictively numbing milk of poppies... Falling in love... Heartbroken... Lastly, her curled up with a bottle of poppy oil in her hands.

Before they come to a stop. He lets go of her hand. "Just down the hallway, there is a lady who will serve you the forgetfulness soup before you go onto your next life..."

She let out a difficult smile, before she leapt into his arms and gave him a tight squeeze. "Thank you for taking me here." Before turning down the hallway, leaving him staring down her figure until she was no more. He looked at the hand which he only held briefly.

That person had been such a long memory. Why did he remember such an old memory? Sometimes the answer eludes him. It was such a shame such a young soul departed before its intended time. But such is death, for he is a cruel but necessary god indeed.

A bowl is shoved in his direction. A vaguely humanoid hag with crackling bones and skin that hung off her bones and her face veiled with a white cloth. He give off a small chuckle to himself before throwing his head back and throwing himself off the edge. His vision disappearing and memories disappearing one after the other.

Short Story

Mai-le Tang

Take what you wish to learn. Give just as much as you learn. Sometimes, it's best to live on your own terms. Bringing chao is just as important as kindness.

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Mai-le Tang
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