Dunja carried her baskets of fresh flowers to the cathedral courtyard each day. She prayed that God would forgive her.
People had forgotten. Many had drifted or passed on. The youngsters didn’t seem to know the flower lady’s secrets.
Customers came by each day. They visited the cathedral and bought her small colorful bouquets. Yellows, whites. Carnations, roses. Pinks, reds. Lilies, asters.
It was a peaceful existence. She listened to their stories. Flowers for a wedding, a girlfriend. Sometimes a grave. Or sometimes a candle to burn in remembrance. Dunja shuddered, never told.
She remembered being courted. Not properly. She hadn’t been very pretty or outgoing. Dunja was simple, common. She hadn’t made an impression on the local boys.
She thought he had been different. They’d met and he’d enchanted her. His stories had been lies. She didn’t know, not then.
He’d lost interest in her. Stopped talking. Started blaming, seeing others. She’d kept the child anyway.
A mistake they’d said. How could it have been? Her son had been perfect.
She snipped the head off a ruined bloom. It’s center spoiled. The customer smiled. He prattled small talk, bubbling like the fountain. He couldn’t know, could he? It was so long ago. The customer so young—so in love.
A shiver ran down her spine. He had fallen on the kitchen floor, akimbo in his clean uniform. That frozen look of surprise below his own ruined head was forever etched in her mind.
She finished the bouquet, wrapped with a white ribbon, and handed it to the young man.
Dunja crossed herself, put the money in her jar. No one had blamed her. Could God?
Photo linked via The Heart of Writing.