Happy Anniversary (Flash Fiction)

Bob bent over to pluck the poppies. His back ached something fierce, so he took his time with it. He stood and smiled a leathery smile. He continued his trek along the ridge of the rolling hillside, bundling the orange petals in with sunflowers and johnny-jump-ups. The afternoon breeze licked the sweat from his skin as he ascended out of the flowers and into the lichen covered stone.

The view of the sunset from the low peak was spectacular. Piercing yellows bled into fiery oranges that spanned the country side. The bottoms of stray clouds were seared with dark purples and crimson reds. Bob dabbed at his brow and watched the colors roll away to the west for the rest of the world to see.

He set the flowers down and weighted them down with rocks. There was no headstone, no wooden post, only a rock pile marker with a flat stone resting on top from where ashes were previously flown. In front of the stone was a white marble cherub that had been carved by his own hands. The features had dulled through the passing years, but the figure had managed to keep its shape well enough. Bob removed his hat.

“Well, I’m still here,” he said, looking out to the sunset. “Another year. The kids are well as well can be. Times are tough but they do right. They call regular to make sure I’m fine, and I am fine. Timmy says he’s getting into books and such, writing them. I’m all for it. He ain’t no good, to be honest, but he’ll get the lick of it. He’ll get the lick of it.”

The wind gusted and whipped his graying hair. Bob gave a look to the small dents in the cherub where the eyes used to be.

“I’m gettin’ scared,” he said, squinting into the sun. “Something’s wrong with my ticker. Doc says it’s nothing to fuss over, but I can tell different. Something’s gone awry. I can just feel it, ya know? It’s in my veins, in my bones. It wakes me up at night.” He rolled a loose stone with his feet. “Sometimes it won’t let me go back to sleep, neither. I’ll just be awake in the night, in the dark, alone, waiting for the sun to come around to my side again.”

The sun dipped its edge below the horizon. “Well,” Bob said, putting his hat back on again. “I guess I’ll see ya next year or, God willing, maybe sooner.”

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