Lilacs in Bloom
“I welcome summer heat
to bring a world that
scolds the touch.
Of Fall’s grace
I count the leaves that
leave me feeling gloom,
As Winter howls,
I shiver to thwart
the cold that brings me such,
But as Spring thaws,
and maidens dance,
picking Lilacs in bloom.
the very sight
that will lead us to our doom.”
It was the Spring of 1992.
The lilacs were fresh in bloom and I still remember them vividly, covering a small portion of the front yard, by the road. A blooming pale violet batch, symbolizing the change of a frigid winter and the hopes of a warm thawing spring. My mother always told us, when the Lilacs sprouted, that meant there was good fortune for us around the bend considering they only bloom for a few weeks while the temperature and climate is perfect, before dying off. So that being the case, she forbid me or any of my sisters from playing near nor picking them. She always said the good fortune would be broken if they were picked. That the person who picked them would be met with an blessed fate for a short period, but everybody else in the family would receive the opposite.
She always did believe in fairy tales.
North Georgia was having a rather cold outing for springtime, so by mid April, we were still waking up to frost on the ground. Now, this wasn’t the most surprising thing in the world. It happens every few years or so. It was just morning frost in April, but the frigidness was something else. As if death was blowing upon the grass peddles itself, sending chills down your spine. Though, by mid day, it would be back to its normal warm springtime air. But that cold dark air, during our morning walks to the bus stop, would have everybody bundled up, bringing blankets and heavy coats, solely to ride the heatless bus to school. The weatherman would talk about it, but it wasn’t really anything he could explain very well, other than a cold snap. Who really cared about how cold it was at six in the morning in a small North Georgian town, when “the Comeback Kid”, Bill Clinton had just taken office, and everybody waited with bated breath for what his first few moves in officer were going to be? A strange cold snap in the mornings seemed like a minor problem.
I was fourteen, awaiting the last couple months of school to trudge along as if it were a trench and I, a French soldier, digging tunnels underneath the enemies barricades and on the other side lay summer. The season where I was free from any responsibility other than working with my dad down at the lumber yard. It was hard work, but it was simple and required very little studying, so I was happy to do it. Plus, it replaced my household chores and was only twenty four hours a week. Other than that, I would run a muck in a world that was outside of my school’s conformity, and social statuses. I could just be me. But, until then, I would go through the shitty life of a freshmen, and dodge question after question from my folks about why I never got on with anybody.
In truth, I had no one to get on with. I tried to meet people at first, but after some time, I fell out of it. I was the odd ball out, and found it difficult to say the least. I was mostly alone my entire stint of freshmen year, due to going to a separate school than most of my friends. While most of my childhood friends went to a high schools geared towards agriculture, I was sent to a school for the gifted.
I always hated calling it that.
There was nothing gifted about anybody there, other than their own gifted sense of self-worth. But, despite my cries to go to school with my friends, my parents thought it best that I attend a school that may better suit my own future. Needless to say, I was having trouble adjusting.
Every day, I went to school, spoke to nobody, ate alone, and rode the bus home. My father always worked and so did my mother. As a working class family, the effects of the economy didn’t matter so much to them as much as just being able to pay their mortgage on time. This meant we didn’t have much else. While other children in my school, came from money, which was much more of a status than it should have been, I did not. This meant most of the time, I would lie and tell people I owned things, I did not own, I had seen movies, I hadn’t seen, and I lived in a house that I didn’t live in. Though it didn’t matter, because they could tell by my clothes and worn out converse, that I was full of shit.
I was alone.
That is, until Mallory Ann came to our school.
She was half a year younger than me, but was stuck in my class in the middle of March. When she introduced herself to the class, a few things popped out to me. She wore dark clothing, but was also absolutely beautiful. Her thin pale frame and dyed black hair went perfect with one another, as her stark green eyes offset her entire look, giving her an otherworldly appearance. Heavy eyeliner caked her eye lids, which gave her a sort of scary look that I wasn’t used to, as if she crawled out of the movie “The Lost Boys”, and I loved it. I had never met anybody that dressed like that, and thought it was only a thing they did in Hollywood. It was fascinating to me. In her introduction, she stated that she had moved from somewhere up north, I believe she said Wisconsin, and her father had just gotten a job as a foreman at the same lumber yard my father worked at.
Since nobody in class liked to speak with me, there was an open desk next to my own that she sat down in.
My body froze.
I didn’t know what to say. I was in full panic mode. What do I say to a girl that is so beautiful and mysterious? Hell, she probably didn’t want to speak to me anyways. The next thing I knew, I had frozen up and not said anything at all to her.
I was so embarrassed, and the worst part was noticing that nobody else was speaking with her either. Just quiet murmurs in the class hurled in her direction accompanied by soft laughs. I began to feel bad for her. It wasn’t until a week after she had arrived that I was even able to speak to her, and that was only because she had missed a day, and asked me what assignments she may have missed. I was tired and it was early, so I wasn’t even able to allow my stunning awkwardness ruin our interaction.
I told her what she missed which turned into her asking who I was, and I responded, saying my name was Jack and giving her a small back story of my own. From that day on, we spoke almost every day, and slowly my fear and nervousness around her began to dissipate, but slowly much worse was beginning to grow within me. I was beginning to fall for her.
Mallory Ann was smart, witty, funny, loved sci-fi and all things Disney. I would say she was different from other girls, but to be honest, most girls didn’t want to speak to me, so I couldn’t necessarily make that judgment call. We began speaking incessantly, and became inseparable. Living only a few roads away from one another, we also began riding the bus home together, where I would watch as we drove by my house and keep my mouth shut, and eyes forward as to not tip off that it was my house. Then we would hang out, until I would walk back to my house on my own. I loved every moment we spent together, often sneaking out on weekend nights to go roam the small town, and lose ourselves in each other’s presence. Telling one another stories, tall-tales, and superstitions that often left her wide eyed. It was young love, and I was tangled in its web.
At least it was for me.
I hadn’t actually confessed my feelings to her, so I wasn’t sure if she felt the same way, and truthfully, how could she? I was a poor kid whose father worked for hers. I hadn’t even told her where I lived, although we would drive by my house every day on the way home from school. I was ashamed of my background, and hated for anybody, let alone her, to know anything about my home-life. But, one day I would have to come clean with her, lay myself bare to her judgment, and the day I decided to was the day she pointed out my mother’s Lilacs, which were fresh in bloom, and commented on how beautiful they were.
That was my opening.
There was the Spring Ho-Down coming at the end of April. It was a dance for everybody else who wasn’t able to attend prom on account that at my school, you had to be either a Junior or Senior, or have been invited by a Junior or Senior to go to prom. I was neither of those, and I had hoped Mallory Ann hadn’t been invited for my own selfish reasons. When I asked her, quite coyly I might add, if she had been invited, she smiled and said yes, but she had declined them because there was someone else that she liked. Which was followed with a playful pinch on my arm. This sent my heart racing.
In the early morning on a Sunday, I decided to sneak out and see if she was still awake and willing to sneak out with me. I was going to confess my feelings to her and as lame as it sounded, invite her to the Spring Ho-Down.
It was dark outside and the cold was biting. I crept over to my mother’s lilacs, and picked a handful of them. I honestly doubted my mom would have been able to tell any were missing, anyhow. Quietly, I picked what I needed and hastily made my way down the road. When I made it to Mallory’s house, I saw that her upstairs bedroom light was on. I found the nearest pebble to me, and lobbed it up against her window pane. A sense of joy filled me when I saw her body fill the window to her room. The shock, then smile in her recognition of my face still makes me smile to this day. I motioned her to come down and surprisingly enough, she did.
As soon as she came out, we kept quiet until we were out of the neighborhood and near a secluded wood that a playground sat. We both sat on the swings speaking back and forth about nothing, and gazing at the stars. It was a clear night out, and through the canopy of the trees, the moonlight showered upon Mallory Ann, giving her a sense omnipotent beauty. It was over thirty minutes until I finally worked up the nerve to speak with her about why I came out to see her. The first thing I did was bring out the lilacs, and hand them to her. Her face brightened in the sparkle of the moon as my heart began to race. I confessed my feelings for her, and how I wanted to take her to the Ho-down. She said how she felt the same way about me, and that she had never been to a “Ho-Down,” but she would love to go.
Mallory Ann took a single lilac and weaved it through her hair, which ornamented her magnificently. Then she leaned in to kiss me, which took me by surprise, but I rebounded quickly and we shared a long passionate kiss. The sounds of cicadas weeping into the night for a mate and the wind carrying the scent of freshly picked lilacs to ours noses. Her body wrapped in tight to mine, we looked into each other’s eyes as I shared my first ever kiss with her.
I was happy.
We held hands as I walked her home, and I kissed her once more before watching her sneak back in through her window, and she turned and blew me a kiss goodnight. My body was jittery from the excitement, as I basically skipped my way back to my home.
The first thing I noticed that was off was my front door. It was still slightly a jarred. I recalled specifically that I had closed it, so panic began to set it. That meant Mom and Dad were awake, and I was pretty much screwed. Approaching the front door cautiously, I slowly eased it open. Maybe I had just left it open by accident, and they hadn’t noticed. I crept back into the home, and slowly closed the door behind me, expecting to hear a voice or light turn on behind me. But, it was nothing.
I had merely left the door open like an idiot.
I crept into my room, and laid in my bed. Thinking of Mallory Ann, I drifted off to sleep.
Hours later, after sun-up, I awoke on my own, which wasn’t a normal situation. It was Sunday after all and we had church. Though, I hated church, but we still went every Sunday. I made my way into the kitchen, and noticed nobody else was awake. So, I poured myself a bowl of cereal, played the maze game on the back of the box, and ate.
It wasn’t until thirty minutes after I was awake, that I began to fear something was up. It was already passed ten, which was cutting it close for the 11 A.M service. So, I decided to sneak a peek into my sister’s room.
As I approached the door, a sudden chill fell over me leaving all of the hairs on my arms standing. I shook it off and eased the door open slowly. What I saw next made me jump slightly. All three of my sisters were knelt down by the side of the bed, praying with the lights off. I softly called to them, but got no response. So, I moved in closer, but now my nerves were running rampant. I tapped my oldest sister Lucille on the shoulder, and still nothing. It wasn’t till I saw her face, that I began to register what was happening.
Lucille’s eyes were gone, as was her tongue. In their place, crammed to the brim were the pale violent lilacs. Panic began to fall over me, as I looked over to Gretchen and Grace, and saw they were the same as Lucille. Lilacs spilling out of their eye sockets and mouths. I stumbled back in a panic, and fell hard into a dresser. The disruption caused all three of my sisters to collapse onto their sides, faces pointing directly at me, as lilacs began to spill out of them and out onto the soft carpet. I was hardly able to move, till my stomach turned on me, as I vomited tiny Irish themed marsh mellows and cereal all over the room. I tried screaming out, but I could hardly breath. Finally I managed to escape the room, and I began to cry as I screamed out for my father and mother. But, there was no reply. Fear began to course through me.
Who had done this?
What had done this?
I made my way slowly to my parents room, where the door was open. As I nudged it open slowly, the first thing I noticed was my mother, kneeling down in prayer. I began to weep heavily as I ran to her crying out her name, afraid to turn her face and see what I was already expecting, but knowing I had to. My mother was the same as my sisters. Her mouth agape with lilacs, and where her eyes once were, were the flowers that signified spring. I began crying uncontrollably. What had happened? Who had…
Then I remembered my father. He wasn’t in the room with me, and just as this thought passed through my head, I heard his deep gravelly voice speak.
“Son, the lilacs are in bloom.”
I turned quickly, but as I did, I saw my Pa hold his Smith & Wesson to his temple and pull the trigger expelling his brains and fractured skull all over the dresser, wall and curtains within the room. Mixed in with the blood and gunk, sat perfectly clean, tiny peddles of lilac…
The police said they found me out in the Lilac patch later that day. I had blacked out immediately upon seeing my dad. They considered it a triple homicide/suicide, and I was sent to foster care and moved away.
I never saw Mallory Ann again after that morning. A lot of me hopes she had a nice life, and found someone else to go with her to that dance and all of the other dances that her world may entail. And, the one thing I pray for most is that wherever she may be now; she doesn’t pick the Lilacs.
She always did believe in fairy tales.