This is the second part to the short story, and the ending will be unveiled tomorrow. The order of the story is still a backwards timeline.
She asks the class to simmer down as the students fumble around for desks in the heat of the first day. The pencils and books clamor with backpacks lining the back wall. One boy files in with a worn pot fostering a full calendula stretching higher than the accompanying lamp on her desk. He hurriedly runs to his desk before she has time to thank him, and she soaks in the smells whilst gingerly rubbing the petals over with her fingers.
She remembers meeting the boy’s mother last year during parent meetings and how their boy struggled to read like the others. She wore a yellow cardigan that flushed out her bleached complexion, and her hair was freshly highlighted the same color as her flaxen heels. The mother explained how her son couldn’t sound out the letters well. She remembers long hours after class nurturing his vowels and developing his reading. The last day of class the year before, his voice came into fruition and he spoke his chapter without pause. The class stood above him clapping, and she wanted to feel that way every day. He went on to be high school valedictorian.
The golden flecks of the flower made her smile, but she began class still lacking in energy. The chalk hit the blackboard, and students slowed their voices finding hers in the classroom. She taught them about the skeletal system, followed by a spelling test and a detailed conversation about how everyone’s summer went.
One student talked about how he got a new brother, another disclosed a detailed itinerary of his adventures in Vermont with his family. She leans back in her chair allowing the kids time to mingle, forgoing her turn. Her eyes focus on the climbing calendula as children giggle in their seats about one kid getting lost in a casino on a Las Vegas vacation with his parents.
She notices the ridges of the leaves that populate the stem and later that day buys more for her garden beds at home. The woman at the checkout asks if she gardens regularly, and she looks at her hesitantly explaining that it’s just a hobby. She rambles about her struggles with soil and how the air in this area isn’t conducive, and how her broccoli still won’t bloom. The woman at checkout sympathizes and rings up the last of her seeds.
She quickly grabs a watering can keychain and checks out. She attaches it to her keys before driving out of the parking lot. She watches the metal detailing on the can dangle out of the ignition as she sits at a red light on Auburn St.
The dust spotted the air through the wave of light in their bedroom. The white sheets refracted the rays back into the room giving life to the woman in her bed reading through mystery novels. She pulled out her tea from the night stand as she sipped to the sound of dust swaying across the room. Her hair was unkempt and skin greyed. The center of gold in the pennant of her necklace pushed the light elsewhere. Her body melted into the white and left a print of her body.
There was a knock at the door and soon her feet found the floor, and a man gave her a package. Delighted, she moved to the living room thanking the man repeatedly as she waved him out the door. She released the sides of the box and was surprised by what she found. She stood in front of the closed blinds still staring at the scraps of the packaging. She slowly moves to the floor and lets the rug hold her weight as she sprawls onto her side, extending her toes into the underside of the couch. She fixates on the bubble wrap and allows herself the satisfaction of popping each raised inch of plastic until she’s finished.
Her husband walks into the fragmented living room where his wife lay swaddled in a pastel, checkered blanket. The deflated plastic cushions her head, and he hears hollow breaths. He watches her chest slowly rise and fall as he clears the center of the room. He melts his body into her and slowly wakes her as he slides into the colored blanket where they remain until the morning light.
If you missed the beginning to this story, here is the link to Part 1: https://uiwomenscenter.wordpress.com/2016/05/02/the-lowest-golden-apple-part-1/