She wakes up with a rose in her throat--gags, chokes. Roses are the worst. All those thorns.
The blanket knots around her feet as she spits petals out of her mouth, untangling fingers from sheets to reach up and pluck the bud from her lips. She winces as the thorns scrape her esophagus.
When roots finally emerge, shriveled and white, dripping with stomach acid, she breathes a sigh of relief. Her tongue tastes like leaves.
She showers, gets dressed, puts on makeup. She sips juice for breakfast, feels new roots unfurling in her stomach. They always do.
Her mother plucks the rose from the trash, tosses it into the small green bin in the corner of the kitchen, washes off hands.
“Compost, darling,” she reminds her daughter, “Flowers go in compost.” The Girl nods as a new stem unfurls in the pit of her stomach, mumbles, “Sorry.” Leaves.
On the drive to school she wonders what will grow today, hopes for a single bud, but not another rose. Something small, solitary, soft. Once an entire bouquet of peonies bloomed in her mouth.
She almost suffocated. She can feel vines creeping along the lining of her stomach, buds poking their way back into her esophagus. Leaves unfurl delicately in darkness.
She parks her car in the school lot, shoulders her backpack, sighs. As she trudges inside, her friends spot her.
They hurry over, groaning about tests and quizzes and homework and no sleep and essays and part time jobs.
She joins the pity party, shouldering dutiful hatred along with her textbooks, complaining for connection. Sometimes words creep up in her throat like petals.
She wants to say, I can’t stop choking on flowers, but who would understand?
She falls asleep in class and dreams the whole earth is a desert. The color green does not exist. Everything is brown and orange and dusty with sand and wind.
The sun shines brilliantly and violently. She spends days walking in search of water. When she dies she is parched and breathing.
The bell slices like a knife through soft skin. She jolts awake and red spots pool in her vision. By the time she stands, they are gone.
In her next period she asks to go to the bathroom, takes her bag, leaves. Twenty minutes pass and no one notices that she is not there.
Halfway through the class, the door to the bathroom snaps open, bangs like a gun. An unfamiliar student walks in, moves towards a stall, pauses. The student hears someone retching.
She moves cautiously to the last stall, peers through the crack in the door. The Girl is crumpled around the toilet, sagging onto grimy tile, fingers covered in spit.
Flower petals are littering the floor around her, scattered on the toilet seat, floating in the water. She heaves.
The unfamiliar student blushes, embarrassed by such a scene, and hurries away from the bathroom. There’s another one at the end of the hall.
At lunch The Girl feels flower stems in her throat every time she swallows. She picks apart her sandwich and thinks about dying.
“One day my whole body will grow flowers,” she says, tasting dark earth on her fingertips. “Why are you talking about flowers?” Her friend asks.
When The Girl gets home she studies herself in the mirror. She opens her mouth and sees daisies, all yellow and white and shallow breaths.
She reaches up numb fingers to rip the flowers from grieving throat, but then pauses. Her heart beats hard, begging for air. She picks the petals off one by one.
When she dies, it is with a bouquet of the most beautiful flowers spilling from her lips. Her mouth is tinged blue like the lavender it holds, suffocated by baby’s breath.
Freesia stretches petals from between teeth like it wants to escape. Dahlias weep magnificently on her tongue.
The coroner cuts the stems from her throat and puts them in water, but without her stomach acid they shrivel.
Cause of death is listed as a suicide.