A First Draft

The Sundry Wilderness of a Plastic Sunflower

She was a ballerina slip of a girl with a small sinewy frame and fierce almond eyes. I never loved her but we spent the night once in a tiny chink in the wall that was her studio apartment. She must have liked me as she whispered to me, "I feel so- so luxuriously safe- in your arms."

If only she knew I had the arms of pigeon wings and a heart of caged bones. But she was beautiful and peculiar, and twenty years younger, with a lush abundance of innocence and vitality; two life-forces of which I had been -long- weaned.

"I'm from Hahira, which is a little town all the way down in the peach groves of Georgia! Are you a local, here?" she asked me on the street one Sunday morning as we waited for the light to change. It was very early morning and I was soaked from running. I lurched from foot to foot, baffled by the sudden shattering of silence by this weird tiny creature at my side.

"No," I muttered, staring at the red light. Funny how much you can concentrate on a red light, taking in every intricate detail, yet all you really see is the out-of-focus fever of lights swimming below it, like abstract paintings of neon light.

"I'm going to be an actor," she said, staring out into the traffic.


"A stage actor," she expanded.


"I was in the circus for a while. I did high-wire dance."

The one day I had forgotten my mp3 player...


The light changed. A burst of green speared through my mind. I sped forward with renewed vigor.

I saw her again, though, as I lived nearby, occupying my own chink in the wall a block down. And, over time, she grew on me with a kind of charm, like moss on an old shaded sidewalk. She was wildly simple and child-like and, at times, I hated it and, other times, I worshiped her for it. She did not own a cell phone or a computer, but every Friday afternoon she did eagerly read the newspaper in the company of a homeless man, whose name escapes me. They would read different sections, sitting side-by-side on a concrete slab overlooking the turbid water below. Afterwards, she loved to discuss the "growing concerns of modern times" with just about anyone who crossed her path. She was a funny creature with a kind of boldness most of us could only dream of.

"'I rushed up, enchanted- it was my first sunflower,'" she said, quoting "Sunflower Sutra" as she pawed at the air, her movements slow and idle, her tiny hands glowing red in the streamers of the early-morning light that flooded in from the open window.

I knew that would be our final sunrise. And the only full night we would ever spend together had already dissolved into the drowning ether of memory.

Fully dressed, I admired her from a dark corner of the room. Only my left black leather shoe was exposed to the light of the new day. It glittered like a talon. She gazed over at me- this little girl of 19, so strangely captivated.

"I'll see you tonight, right? For opening night? You won't forget? I still cannot believe I got the leading role! And on my first try!" she exclaimed, rolling over, clawing at the crisp, white sheets, like a kitten pouncing on toes.

"I won't forget," I said as I stood up.

"You'll be there?"

I smiled in a haphazard sort of way. I never was a man of many words. I headed for the olive green door, chipped and peeling, and rested my hand on the gritty knob.

"I'll be seeing you, Lyla."

"You know, I can really relate to the character I play on a personal level...my mother died of pneumonia, too."

I paused.

"When did that happen?" I asked.

"Three years ago. I'll be seeing you, then, Jim."

She lay there, staring at the plastic solar-powered sunflower dancing on the windowsill, the only decoration of the whitewashed room. She was bare and exposed, bathed in a lemon glow. She looked fierce and defiant, her eyes catching fire. I thought, perhaps, she was crying.

I never did see her again, and, though I lived in my own crevice in the wall a mere block away from the sundry wilderness of her strange little world, somehow, I doubt that she ever went looking for me.

Short story by pok-a-dolt
Read 927 times
Written on 2016-04-12 at 11:17

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Alan J Ripley The PoetBay support member heart!
Simply wonderful
Regards Alan

Kathy Lockhart
You captivated me! I'm hungry for more of this appetizing delight!
You never waste a word! I love that. I admire your ability to create scenes and moods, times, history, futures, characters, places...lives! Life!

Nancy Sikora
A wonderful story, the words paint the images so beautifully.