Don’t truly smile now. Why should I, when there’s no reason to?
Don’t sleep much either.
Dead of the night. I’m awake, more alive than usual, ironically. Except, it’s not really ironic. It’s the time when everyone’s asleep, when I don’t have to fake smiles and thankfulness to pity. Don’t have to worry about Mrs. Johnson whispering to Mrs. Jackson about how she thinks “poor Rhea doesn’t seem to be coping well with ol’ ma’s death, especially after ma and pa’s divorce, and don’t forget . . . Rhea’s only seventeen!
I hate it even more that it’s so cliché.
Dead of the night at the moment. Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Jackson, snoring in their beds, sure they’ll go to heaven considering their charitable selves. Probably will, if heaven exists. Don’t think it does.
It’s snowing.
I’m sitting in the garden. Wrapped in Mum’s jacket. Can’t stand the suffocation in the house during the winter, especially in the dead of the night. 
Sipping coffee. Aunt Maia’s sleeping. Told me I can wake her up for anything, respects my privacy, lets me be with myself. I’m grateful. Also for her unexpectedly calling Mrs. Jackson something unprintable.
She was forty, Mum. Car accident. Funeral. Sudden shock. That’s all I’m going to say about her death. Don’t want to sound sentimental.
Mum liked gardens. Ever since she was a child, then a fantasizing British nineteen-year old in love with my tourist American dad, during their few passionate years together, having me, onward to their suddenly rusty relationship, until the divorce two years ago, till her death – she nurtured gardens. She liked crocuses most.
I remember years back when the yelling became too much, I’d come sit here and try to block it all out. Then soon Mum would come, teary, and  hold me, lavender-scented. Think she needed me for comfort – a stress-buster. Still, liked her arms around me, her soft cheek, taste of the salty teardrop on her nose. She’d caress my cheek and her beautiful crocuses. She’d claim they were most alive in the dead of the night. Apparently like how I am now.
Learn more about the author:

Tejal Doshi

Learn more about the contest which inspired this story:  Fleur 2020-01 – Crocus
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