“Flower of the Ghosts” was written for Cracked Flash Fiction’s competition. In this competition you are given the first sentence and 300 words with which to finish the story.
Flower of the Ghosts
He found her at the base of a stone angel, almost appearing to be part of it. Her grey roots folded around the statue while one single pearl-white bloom turned its head towards the moon, seeking its silver light.
He wasn’t sure why he always thought of the ghost flower as a ‘she’ except that the bloom reminded him of a dancer in a white dress that swept and curled as she turned to the sound of faerie music. The flowers only grew in graveyards and only then, it was said, on the graves of those who had lived righteous lives worthy of remembering and emulating. He had believed that story until the day he found one on the grave of a murderer. Or perhaps he stopped believing because the questions he was left with became too many and too difficult to answer.
Technically he was a grave digger, but sometimes, just sometimes, his work required … other services. Like the removal of an old golden family heirloom that, by chance, happened to have slipped into a coffin before burial. Or making some more room in the cemetery by donating a fresh body or two to the student doctors. But his favourite job was seeking out the grave flowers. They only grew in the midwinter and then sprouted, bloomed, and died all in the space of one full-mooned night.
He held the knife in one hand and carefully took the bloom in the other. Red sap seeped between his fingers when he severed the bloom – more questions he didn’t need answering – and carried it over to where the family was waiting.
“Will it cure him?” the mother asked, rocking her baby.
He nodded, handed her the flower.
Sometimes, just sometimes, he felt as if his work helped people.
I don’t know about you, but the first thing I think of when I see “stone angel” is Doctor Who! And, seeing as how I can’t write fan fiction for the entry…
I played around with ideas about a sentient plant and then the person finding the plant hallucinating… but they just didn’t work for me. So I decided to just write about the flower and then see where the story took me. It didn’t really change from the first draft to what you see here.
Once I set the story in a graveyard, I also just had to add some body snatching. Because reasons.
This is one of those ideas which, I think, may lead to some more fiction in the future. Perhaps the story of the murderer on whose grave the flower grew?