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Dandelion Request Form
Emily Hopkins 2012
Gathering wits from some holy place, the harassed Father took up the service and pushed through it with the martyred determination of Jesus hauling his cross to his crucifixion.
Through it all, Shelly cried. Each hiccuped sob jiggled her breasts so that the fleshy mounds joggled like under-cooked muffins puffing out of yellow paper liners. My fingertips brushed against the dainty strings of her low-cut briefs that tied on either side of her hips in seductive bows. Lazily, I played with the those bows, wrapping my fingers in the taught loops while Father Morin achieved decorum and concluded the service.
The town of Bloomfield prides itself for conserving two constants of a northeastern village. One, its state fair Blue Ribbon recipe; this year for the Mayor’s wife’s calorie thick Waldorf salad, and second, its steadfast memory of family scandal. As no one had offered me condolences, my mother’s funeral was no exception to the Bloomfield tradition. The apple salad was to make an appearance at the reception following the burial; customarily, I would not be.
I had not seen the late Mrs. Bibsin in over five years. Although we lived only hours away from each other, she had made it clear that I was not welcome in her home. It was absurd that I had spent the last two nights sleeping in that forbidden home, in my old room next to hers, where I had found her lifeless body.
I would like to remember her like one of her red roses, the ones that drooped under the passion of moonlight. She tended to her roses like a tender lover, never pushing them into bloom, but guiding the tight bulbs to release their full beauty at their ripest moment. She taught them to rise and come for her, and her young lovers did not disappoint. They bloomed, season after season, lasting with her until it was their time to go. And, oh so gently, they would.
I would like to always think of her like that. I would like to forget the woman who turned away her twenty five year-old son, the day I told her I was dieing. I would like to forget that thorny woman who told me God was punishing her because I was gay, because I was conceived to remind her of her sins.
I never returned home. I never saw her whither away as she smoked one pack of cigarettes a day, and then two, and then three. All the while, her blooms offered themselves to her, always returning with youth and beauty and all the things that were fading for the both of us. And she didn’t have to watch me whither away from a beautiful boy into a shadow of a man. We had saved each other from that final pain.
First to leave were the few mourners who barely knew the newly buried Mrs. Bibsin. The middle-aged men, bless them, mumbled about the heat, and hectically adjusted sweat dampened collars in order to turn their balding heads at Shelly. Their wives, blithe now that their greatest garden competition would soon be pushing up daises instead of prize-winning cabbage roses, pulled them to their assembled sedans and mini-vans, forgetting the dead the farther they got from the grave. The old timers, who reverently called Bloomfield Cemetery “Bloomers’ End,” shook hands with Father Morin with hopes that the familiar “see you soon” was not an unpromising prediction of things to come.
While the mourners paid their respects, Shelly wrapped her arms around my chest, pressed her unclad body into mine, and cried wetly into the crook of my neck. Father Morin, never one to deviate from his duty to the widow Bibsin, remained. He stared at Shelly’s yellow backside, his eyes firmly squared on the bright strip of cotton covering her firm derriere. His leather bound, open Bible hung limp at his side, the humidity lapping at the worn pages as they rose and fell in the hot, undulating breeze.
“Are they gone?” Shelly asked, “all of them?”
“Everyone except the Man of God.” I nodded at him and he slowly bowed his head. “Why are you here?”
“Because you are.” She pushed herself up, stood, and brushed herself with her shaped arms. She had toned and tanned for this event. Her auburn curls bounced off her shoulders and the color matched her nail polish and lipstick. “Did you see the way they looked at you? You’d think they’d seen Mom’s ghost dancing a jig with Jesus.”
“Sweetheart, you’re the one flashing God’s goodies at her mother’s final farewell. If I’m not mistaken, that is the same color your wore when you were crowned Miss. Blossom.”
She fanned her hands down her trim body, drumming her fingers like an impatient child across her firm tummy.
“Why, Sean, this is the same suit that won me that damn beauty contest. It got me out of here then, I thought it fitting to wear it on my return.”