"Flower Children" by Maxine Swann (Short Story Month)

This is one of my all-time favorite stories. It’s beautiful, honest, harrowing. These are the last few sentences, which I have memorized:

The leaves on the apple trees are all turning blue. The sunflowers in the garden are quivering, heads bowed–empty of seed now. And the heart gets watered and recovers itself. There is hope, everywhere there’s hope. Light approaches from the back. Between the dry, gnarled branches, it’s impossible to see. There are the first few drops. There are the oak trees shuddering. There’s a flicker of bright gray, the underside of one leaf. There was once a child standing at the edge of the yard at a terrible loss. Did she know this? Yes. The children! (They have her arms, his ears, his voice, his smell, her soft features, her movements of the hand and head, her stiffness, his confusion, his humor, her ambition, his daring, his eyelids, their failure, their hope, their freckled skin–)

“Flower Children” originally appeared in Ploughshares and was reprinted in BASS 1998. The story can be read online here: Flower Children

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