Tulips – Matilda Harjunpää

My mother has always loved tulips. Every spring when they were in season she’d put a large cylinder vase on the windowsill and fill it. Over and over.

She says tulips die in many different ways, more so than other flowers. Some of them grow long stems that start to droop. With others, the green parts turn yellow and brown. Some drop their petals and their pollen, leaving a big mess for you to clean up.

Some die beautifully. They stay strong and upright, refuse to stretch to grotesque proportions. Won’t break apart. The flowers open gently and the edges of the petals curl outward. The color drains to another hue as lovely as the one before. Tulips that die this way stay fresh for over a week. Even with a keen eye you tend to only get a bunch or two of these in a season.

She says that’s how you know they are living things. They all die in their own way.

She is a small woman but now she looks smaller still. Bedridden for almost a month, we know it won’t be much longer. I place the vase on the side table – a borrowed vase from the hospital, but it will do. I couldn’t find the cerise ones she always liked the best. I hope these are close enough.

She turns her head slowly to look at the flowers. An expression on her face I still recognize as a smile.

“You know, those are stretchers.”

This is not a criticism. Simply an observation.


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Matilda Harjunpää writes in Helsinki, Finland. Her very short stories can be found on Twitter @matildahrjnp.


Image: Capri23auto via pixabay


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