earth laughs in flowers
My name is Ivory Wickes, and Stella Town - just south of all the fantasy and splendour of London City - is my home, withered in comparison to the bright lights the capital holds.
Unfortunately for all the flashy tourists, I'm not blinded so easily by the pomp of chanel lipsticks and the tantalising aftermath of the finest chocolatiers - I prefer the seductive smell of flowers, and how easily one mistakes a thorn for a rose, even when it is stabbed into one's side.
Stella Town holds all the quiet innocence of any other small town, and I enjoy the bitter taste of black coffee when served with a cube of sugar. As with everything, add a little sweet syrup and it's so easy to forget the sourness you might've normally felt. Stella deals out a lot of bad hands, but if you're strong enough, you're able to make the best out of your situation. I was dealt a bustling mother who likes cupcakes and petunias, and a hollow-eyed father who likes shackling criminals and not much else. My little sister is dead. And I'm a broken doll who used to be so very sure what she wanted, but now isn't so sure. All I know is perhaps flowers, because poppies symbolise ire, revenge, blood, and the wistful remembrance of those who fell, and yet have risen again.
I'm not sad: more bored, than anything else. I can't find what I love anymore, because it all looks dead. Petals fall, crimp, wither, wilt away and blow off in the wind as ash. Winter loves to take it all away: and although Spring loves to revive the fields again, I can never truly appreciate summer's beauty without the fear of autumn stabbing me in the back. How can you love what is inevitable that you will lose? The true brilliance of immortality is that if one loves it, it is yours forever, and the fear cannot exist.
Flashy tourists fear the end of their curling camera reels: and I can't decide whether or not to love flowers. Their cycle is eternal, but their end is unavoidable. The irony of a circle is it'll pass through every point: death, life, which means it must end. Or has it only just begun?
I pluck the poppy from its resting place, and pull each stained petal from the middle. This poppy symbolises rage: how my sister left us, and how, like a circle, I replay it, because I could never save her. A million places I could've taken her, a million ways I could've checked on her: all the things I never said to her. Brutal, how a circle does these things to you.
"Every time I see you," a cheery voice says, "You're sitting here, and you look absolutely miserable."
I chuckle, and drop the opium. "It's a habit of yours. Catching me at exactly the wrong moments."
I turn around, and half-smile. Levi smiles back, and his dark silvery eyes are silky, like fallen petals. "Are you alright?" His brown hair is pulled by the wind, and he pushes it back with a careless gesture. Funny now, how I seem to see everything. The way he holds his hands by his sides, and the way he follows me with his eyes when he's worried. I could never have noticed anything like that before. Maybe it's because I'm so afraid I might miss something.
I feel like crying, yet again, and I hardly know why. There's nothing more to cry about, but that in itself seems like a fair enough reason. "Hmm," I droop. Lying to Levi is always fruitless, and streams of lies are an annoyance to anybody. I suppose honesty is just the same as lying, you just cut out all the crap before the truth comes out.
"Hmm. Well I brought coffee."
I spin around, and he continues, "Well. I brought money for a coffee which we'll get when you come with me into town."
I run my hands over the grass, slipping my fingers through the emerald tufts as if it might be soft, even though it's not. It has begun to get cold, now the sun has watched over everyone so much its gaze is tired. Clouds are thick like billowing smoke, a silver ball gown sweeping the glass sky like a dancing girl. It shades us, and I hide in the shadow it brings.
Levi sits down beside me, wrapping his arms around his legs, "I don't know what to say."
"Then don't say anything," I say flatly, and then turn away. "Town bores me. I can't stand it."
"Do I bore you?"
I begin to cry. "No."
I look stupid, as the tears drip down my face like rain. I wipe them away, but like a hydra, two more replace each salty one. Levi sighs, rolls his eyes, and uses his sleeve to wipe them away. "Okay. Town bores you. So we should go away some time, together. I'll take you on holiday to London. We can go in Dad's old car."
I can't help but laugh, as I fall onto his shoulder. "That would be amazing."
"Good," he pulls me up to my feet, and I brush down my dress covered in daisies. "I'll see if I can do it, whenever I get some free time at work. I promise." His face passes me a cheery smile, and it's so infectious that I can't help but catch it, as always.
"Give me a proper smile," Levi laughs, and tips my chin up to face his so I have to look at him. And I smile, real and bright and full of life, a little like my sister when I let her in on a secret. God, we could hate each other, but I could never resist whispering in her ear all the awful gossip and tales that Stella Town had brought to light that day. She told me the boy she liked and I whispered about the boy Rae was dragging along for revenge and she muttered about the old man who'd been in prison for five years and I said again about the teacher who had an affair with a student. God, we could hate each other. But we loved each other too. I look down at our hands, and I almost feel like a toddler again, needing support just to walk. Thoughts don't make very good crutches, apparently.
"I can't believe you're still okay with us holding hands," I say, using my other sleeve to brush at my eyes. I chuckle. I don't know many twenty-year-olds who hold hands with high-schoolers.
Levi scoffs. "I don't know why I let you hold my hand either."
I laugh as he looks down at our hands too like he can't really believe what he's doing. Old habits don't really die, I suppose. We held hands when I was four, six, ten, thirteen and now sixteen. It doesn't seem to really matter what age we are, things just keep on flowing like a river, unless you stop them.
Levi squeezes my fingers tightly. "Apparently, it's what friends do."
"I didn't know we were friends," I challenge, raising a raise-able eyebrow in his direction.
I chuckle, because whenever Levi doesn't have anything to say, he just hmmms and somehow its entirely powerful - more meaningful than a 'shut up', because it's Levi's hmmm. He's mastered it over the years, and I don't think anyone else knows how to hmmm so effectively. I look back at the poppy field, and the wind musters up enough early afternoon dominance to swirl a few bloody petals up to the heavens.
Like a goodbye, perhaps.