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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Dandelion Request Form 2014

Dandelion Request Form (short story) has been revised with a few editorial changes and a new cover illustration by Jesse Hopkins. Available in all digital and ebook formats! Read a copy today at Smashwords.

Dandelion Request Form
Emily Hopkins 2014
Download the full version for your ebook readers (including Kindle, Nook, and iPad) at Smashwords. 
SHELLY BIBSIN WORE a goddamn yellow bikini to her mother’s burial. Later called the “harlot's homecoming” by the gray-haired gossips and firm-titted chits, her arrival abruptly interrupted Father Morin's graveside prayer reading. Distracted by the lemon-hued aberration, the poor Father stumbled through “thy kingdom,” stuttered queerly about “come,” exhaled with an exaggerated “amen,” and then, blessedly, fell silent. The gathered mourners, orthodox in dress and grief, sat in dumb abeyance and gawked at Shelly as she sauntered to where I was seated in the far corner of the front row of chairs. She perched herself on my lap like a plucky canary; legs crossed at the knees, hands folded in prayer like a regular, cross-me-up-and-down, church lady. The chair teetered on the uneven ground and I grabbed her bare hips to keep us from toppling. And, by God!, Father Morin coughed when I touched her.

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 bounced her breasts so that the fleshy mounds jiggled 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 those bows, wrapping my fingers in the taught loops while Father Morin achieved decorum and concluded the service.

A conservative town of habit and custom, Bloomfield boasted 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, Mrs. Bibsin’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.

FIVE YEARS AGO, the stalwart beauty that was Mrs. Bibsin had turned me away from her home. A formidable woman, she cultivated things that were young and pretty, and had no use for anything that died early. It was absurd that I had been the one to find her lifeless body, still lovely, yet rotting from within.
I would like to remember Mrs. Bibsin, not as the woman who had vowed never to see me again, but as the lady who consumed the exquisite offerings of life. She cared for her selfish desires as she did the robust, red roses of her acclaimed garden. She nurtured 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 forget my mother.

It had been an oppressive summer night, early still, but a storm gathering off the coast had blackened the skies with an ominous, swelling threat. Perhaps the brewing tempest had influenced both of us, or maybe it was my anger that had poisoned me just as much as the toxic virus I had been diagnosed with that morning. I am not certain how much that crystal tumbler of scotch, splashing over the edge as she cursed me, had powered the speech of my mother.

“I’m gay,” I told her.

“Don’t be so dramatic, Sean. You’ll outgrow it.”

“Dammit, mother! I’m twenty-five years old, stop acting like you can control me like a boy. In my
short life, I’ve been with as many men as you have. But only one of us is being punished for it.”

“You were born to punish me, I know this now. God sees all deeds, don’t you think he doesn’t, no matter how much we may hide our indiscretions. You were conceived to remind me of my sins, but I raised you to treat me better than this, you ungrateful bastard!” she spit out at me and took a drink of her fortitude.

“I’ll be dead soon enough!”

“Whatever do you mean, now?”

“I’m sick, don’t you see? The doctor told me today. I’ve got it, I’m HIV positive.” My voice trembled and the anger left me as the storm broke and the sky opened in a rage of heavy rain.

“You foolish boy! When will you cease to hurt me? Get out. Get out of my house! You are a disgrace and bring nothing but shame to me. You,” she pointed at me, “are not my son.” She opened the front door and a burst of wind carried the rain inside. “You leave me nothing but a mess to clean up.” She walked away from me and I heard the door of her bedroom slam shut.

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.

Download the full version for your ebook readers at Smashwords.