Pondering a Tragedy of Wasted Flowers


I am hoping to get your help with a little mystery that’s been haunting me all week. I’m crossing my fingers that if I share it with you, that it will finally leave me alone.
It started with a harmless trip to the grocery store. As I got to the sidewalk, 25 feet from the entrance, I noticed a scattering of flower shrapnel covering a small three-foot blast radius.

I surveyed the curious litter. The flowers were the sort found in bouquets. A thoroughly tattered stem bent in many angles lay at least a foot from the nearest bloom. Orange lily parts dotted the banks of snow. A smushed white chrysanthemum-y blossom stared at me with its dead eyes, the violent tragedy silently screaming at me from its muddy resting place. Spots of color from no longer identifiable flowers caught my eye from every direction.

I stood there for a few seconds, and moved along, trying to pretend I hadn’t noticed, that I was immune to the horrors of dismemberment. Even with the scene behind me, I couldn’t shake the images. They compelled me to consider the circumstances that led to such carnage.

I tried to make sense of the scene. The remains didn’t add up to a complete bouquet. What if someone had spent their last $20 on the bouquet to brighten the room of a dying friend, only to carelessly pack the car, where it shifted, spilling a few of the exquisite blossoms to the ground? Did he even notice? I imagined the moment when he did notice, and felt his pain that the gift was had been so diminished, with such a keen sense of loss.

As I entered the store, I saw the displays of fresh flowers, happily beaming at me from their racks, ignorant of the fate that befell their cousin a mere feet away. Their joy mocked me.

My thoughts moved to another, more violent scenario, where the bouquet had been wielded like a club against a would-be mugger, or maybe as a weapon in a lovers quarrel.

I tried to put it out of my mind, and succeeded, until, I was passing the spot on the way back to the car. Again, I was overcome by the sadness of the spoilt flowers.

I got to the car, and told myself it was beyond ridiculous to get emotionally involved in a bunch of flowers, and put them out of my mind.

Until I realized that I had failed to get several items on the list I hadn’t actually made. Probably, I was too shaken by the tragedy that only existed in my head. This happens more often than I’d care to admit.

Once again, I had to stop at the store, and again I had to pass the scene which haunts me to this very day. The white mum-y bloom was in the same spot, affected by another 24 hours of decay. The orange lily shards had blown away, but the stem remained, broken into additional parts, scattered by more foot traffic. New scenarios filled my brain, each more horrible than the last.

There are days when I am jealous of people who can ignore the mysteries and inspirational story material lurking around every corner. Today is not one of those days. Because, although I have probably been more bothered by the ruined flowers than the person who bought them, I admit that I was grateful to have something to put in this week’s column.