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The Vigilant

Orpheus lacked backbone. He turned back and in doing so, committed the great sin: doubt. He was the original sucker, from whom every lost love is descended. The ur-loser, whose statue in the hall of heroes is made of cardboard and gaffer tape. Eurydice was behind him the whole time, but he doubted her and he paid for it. You told me his story while we lay naked in a field where yellow flowers grew in ragged rows. They pierced the evening mist with their colour alone: little lamps to light the way home.

We were very drunk and very happy. The farmer was neither when he found us, and we learnt new ways to run. I almost twisted my ankle in a rabbit hole when I turned to check on you. Judging from the farmer’s shouts, he got about five seconds away from giving me both barrels. I doubted you, and the hammer of god tried to knock a shotgun shell full of rocksalt right up my asshole. You grabbed my arm on the way past and dragged me with you, always surging forward.

We laughed about it later. I took one thing away from that day:

Never turn back, never give up: doubt is for suckers

It came and went so fast: the cancer, among other things. You wanted to be fired out of a cannon but we couldn’t afford it. I couldn’t abandon the principle of the thing, so I had you cremated, stuck the ashes into a firework, then snuck back out to the field-where-we-lay and lit the fuse. Yellow sparks, of course. They stole the sky for you, and lit the way home. Your ash rained down over the field, nourishing the flowers.

I came back a year later and they had grown huge, so I took one home. Planted it in a little plastic pot and left it outside the bedroom window to catch the sun. Not that it needed it: it was a little light of its own.

When that flower died I went back to the field and took two more, and planted them together in the yard. I figured something in the plastic killed the first, and a more natural solution might help. I watered the new flowers every day, but they died too. I took five more, and planted them at different spots around the house to see where the problem lay. They wilted; their lights went out.

That hasn’t stopped me. I doubted you once and nearly got my ass shot off for my sins. If there is anybody with the will who can give Death Itself the middle finger, it’s you. You’ve always been right behind me. You are my Eurydice, and I will not turn back.

I open the door every morning to get the paper, and you are not standing there waiting for me. It won’t stop me trying. I will not turn back. I have love, backbone, trowels and fertilizer. With filthy hands and sore eyes, I will leave you a trail of flowers to light the way home.

Published inProse Fiction

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