Last night, she was riding her bike trying to catch up to her big brother. They were rushing home for dinner in the fading evening light. At the last minute she noticed a big rock on the sidewalk in front of the neighbor's. She swerved to avoid it, but her overly long shoelace got caught on their tall sprinkler-head. She fell onto the barest edge of their daisy bed. Yes, she smushed a few, but they perked right up, after daddy fixed the evil woman's sprinkler.
The harsh voice of Mrs. Evil Dugan screaming "Jesus Christ, you stupid girl! You horrid flower killer!" made her ears bleed.
She gasped in shock because she knew you couldn't say that, especially not on Sunday. She told the evil woman that if Moses was alive, she would've died in the flood. Then she was inspired by what daddy had said to mommy one night.
"You're going to hell. You married a white man."
Mrs. Dugan paled and then said, "My God's the only true God. May your children die and cause you pain."
Daddy spanked her for being careless and costing him his relaxation time. Having his beer and news was the only thing that daddy loved. With the tears still drying on her rosy cheeks, her beloved, big brother took her outside to the treehouse to look at the August sky. They waited 'til the morning, shivering under frayed blankets, for all the shooting stars. They really needed them to make wishes on. She ferverently hoped they would come true. She thought of Bonanza, the heros, the freedom and the love.
The next day, the stinging on her rear temporarily forgotten, she happily tramples the neighbor's beautiful side yard of daisies. The happy yellow's the opposite of the evil woman that tends to them so lovingly in the evenings. She's up early from a frightening nightmare about Mrs. Dugan. Mrs. Dugan was ripping the heads off of all her toys. The old witch was tossing them one at a time while saying, "Will she live or will she die?" She abruptly remembers that she is the flower killer and should destroy them all. She must save her toys. Her face turns serious.
The young flower killer instantly became silent as the doorbell's ringing stops dinner's progress. It's Mr. and Mrs. Evil Dugan. Mr. Dugan's face is enraged and alchoholic red. Mrs. Dugan's wickedly smirking at the thought of punishment. Mr. Dugan used to be nice before he was sent to Afghanistan and brought back Mrs. Dugan. She wants to hide. She knows they are there for the destroyed daisies. Mommy's shaking scared and shrinking in the dark hallway, trying to become a shadow. Daddy's clenching his fists and politely placating. His voice slurring his apologies and promises to replace the flowers. Brother tries to sneak her to the tree house. It's the safest place. Daddy's too big for the tree house. He'll just yell up at them and then go back inside. But tonight, they're not fast enough. Daddy closes the door, sees their reflection in the glass. He grabs her from brother and drags her to the garage.
"Not the park daddy, not the park." she sobs. Brother follows and tries to pull her, daddy shoves him into the bikes and opens the car door. Mommy's whispered pleadings barely pierce the air. The garage creaks open, looking like the mouth of hell. She looks out the window in despair. She swears she sees Mrs. Evil Dugan by the mailboxes.
It's after midnight. Daddy tosses her on the couch, like he's done many times before. Her dark-stained jeans and missing buttons on her favorite red plaid shirt. But this time she's unconscious. Mommy creeps out to clean her up after he stomps upstairs. Brother's armed, waiting. Mommy finally gathers her "too little, too late" courage to take her to the hospital. Later though, the newspaper report that gang violence caused the broken stalls, and a bloody shattered mirror.
She's hooked to machines. Brother holding her hand. Mommy speaking to some man. Everything sounds fuzzy. Another man's leading mommy away. Brother whispers, "Daddy's gone." She thinks she hears, "Forever."
"This man is our uncle, he's come to take us far, far away. He says it's a ranch, we'll love. We'll grow up and own it." She tries to smile...brother gently pats her hand. "One of your wishes is coming true...a home, a real home with animals."
She's 21 and feels like she's on Mt. Olympus...she sits on the top of the hill, all grown up, watching her brother and uncle rounding up cattle. She's queen of all she surveys. Her smile grows into genuine happiness as one of the ranch hands heads her way. Her Zeus, though she chooses not to be Hera. She prefers the status of favorite mistress. One that was placed with the immortals and turned into a goddess for bearing him a favored child. Tenderly, she caresses her belly.
Nine months later, her baby lays tiny in the oversized, casket. It's all the undertaker had. She cries knowing God must have a plan, giving her baby wings so soon. But she just doesn't understand. Suddenly, Mrs. Evil Dugan's face flashes before her. She freezes. She knows with certainty that she didn't kill all the flowers that day. The priest approaches, he stops, under the bison head. She's paralyzed. Demon horns. Mrs. Evil Dugan's laughter mocks her. "Will she live or will she die?" The priest tries to place a yellow garland of daisies on the casket. The spell of terror is broken, screaming she grabs the baby and runs. She must get the baby away. Hallucinated voices, as well as real follow her out of the ranch house.
"Come back, Seraphina...bring back the baby....stupid girl...flower killer...my God is real...your baby will die..." Dark stained jeans and broken stalls... Mrs. Evil Dugan took her baby.
They found her four days later. Singing to the dead baby by a small fire. Milk leaking down her shirt...flies every where. They brough her into town to the big hospital. One of the Doctors tricked her out of the baby by saying it needed a bath and then by bringing her back a doll.
Husband, Uncle and Brother watch her. The nurse whispers to ...even though she couldn't hear them through the glass. "Poor thing thinks she on Mt. Olympus and shooting stars grant wishes."
They look solemnly at the nurse and nod. "She also has a bad reaction to yellow daisies. Please send a different flower or none at all." All protest that they didn't send the daisies. They watch the oderly sweeping up the debris and the doctor stitching up a young candy stripper. As they turn to leave, they wave to Seraphina and the plastic baby doll...pretending with her, hoping it'll bring her back. But deep down inside they know. Unlike the saying, all the world's a stage, when this curtain closes only they will go back to their lives.