Fiction: The Yellow Hibiscus Chapter I

Annelise Lords

He dropped the diamond on the floor beside me, clutching his right hand, which burst into flames!
Hibiscus in a diamond.Image by Annelise Lords

Wednesday, April 22, 2015, 1:09 P.M

Missing my stop at 86th Street on the number 6 Lexington Avenue Local train from the Bronx last month, I had to walk three extra blocks north from 77th Street to my apartment on 83rd Street and 4th Avenue. During the unintended tour of my neighborhood, I noticed two flower shops. The first shop, Flowers Galore, was on 78th Street and 4th Avenue.

The second shop, Every Bloomin Thing, was at 81st, and 4th Avenue was much closer to my apartment. I remembered smiling and thinking it was a perfect name for a flower shop. I’d moved into the neighborhood six months ago and had never been inside either of them. Today, frightened and desperate, here I was.

I entered the shop, and a middle-aged man stood behind the counter arranging a bouquet of spring flowers. His name tag read ‘Juan Luiz. I caught him as he showed a young girl standing with him behind the counter how to trim the stems off Tulips, Irises, Azaleas, Hyacinths, and other flowers. Her name tag read ‘Lucy.’ I was their only customer.

“Can I help you?” she asked politely, straightening her thick-lensed glasses as I approached. She eased away from Juan and strolled over to me.

The glasses attributed a tinge of maturity to her smooth, unblemished copper-colored face, from which her hair had been swept back into French braids. She smiled warmly at me, exposing intricately wired orthodontic work. I showed her the now limp stalks of the flowers from Willoby.

“Do you know what these are?” I asked.

“Sorry, no idea, but I’ll check with Juan.”

She beckoned him over. He carefully examined the flowers but also seemed confused. To appreciate a more realistic specimen, I showed them the diamond with the fresh flower embedded inside.

Lucy and Juan exchanged furtive glances, which betrayed suspicion and awe. They stared at the diamond inquisitively.

Lucy took it in her hands to give it a closer look, then Juan took it from her and remarked, “Yeah, I know . . .”

Suddenly, he stopped speaking. His face contorted with pain as he bellowed a primordial shriek that could have awakened his ancestors in another dimension. He dropped the diamond on the floor beside me, clutching his right hand, which burst into flames!

For a minute, we were all in a state of horror as the fire alarm clamored. Smoke and the smell of burning flesh permeated the air. I spun around in rabid confusion.

Lucy rushed to the shop's back, returning with a fire extinguisher. I unconsciously grabbed the diamond from the floor and bolted. I scampered into the M101 across the street.

The back of the bus was empty. I sat down, crumbling. Trembling. My head was mired in a ball of confusion. In a flash, I remembered that I was still holding onto the wretched diamond. I quickly dropped it on the empty seat next to me, suspiciously examining my hand. It wasn’t on fire. But why? Why wasn’t it on fire?

Thank you for reading this piece. I hope you enjoy it.

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I don't limit myself, because I learn from the actions, choices, decisions, and life of everyone I know. I study and learn from all of my life's circumstances and situations, and also yours. My power of words is about life, awareness, the value, and the simplicity of commonsense, especially when it's not used. Life lessons are in everything we do. I will show them to you.

Poughkeepsie, NY

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