Happy – Austin L. Wiggins

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Rain finished gracing the earth in April and the subsequent bloom in May produced vibrant flora. Over the following weeks photographers of both the amateur and professional varieties trampled splotches of the bloom-age into the clay. The bloom in area was so great it could be seen from space, and after a couple of weeks mankind’s instance on disturbing nature became equally palpable. Riley took to the bloom with a keen interest, but unlike those who craving evidence of their being there, he circumvented the flowers and took steps slow enough to anger those who might’ve been behind him.

Riley looked around until he found a red flower with thorns. The flower’s petals seemed to fold in on itself endlessly, as if new petals would grow forever out of it. With a pair of hand shears Riley snipped the flower from the bush and held it carefully between his index finger and thumb. After smelling and studying the flower he clipped the thorns away and placed it in a basket.

The breeze grew harsh, sending nearby sand aloft and creating a haze over the city. With an array of flowers collected in the reed borne basket, Riley left the fields and returned to his car where he drove north on an uncrowded highway. He exited at the city hospital.

When Riley walked into the hospital he heard a man groaning loud enough to alert nurses, but even has the elderly man collapsed to the floor he looked straight and headed for the reception desk.

“Hey Katherine,” he said.

“Here to see Quentin before his big day?”

“Yeah.”

The elevator played no music, which made Riley smile for a moment. On his way to Quentin’s room he passed by neat hospital beds and other kids who were various stages of bald or concealing their head with bandanas or hats from Disneyland or cartoons. He looked through the glass where Quentin sat in bed. Quentin waved his scrawny hands at his father and smiled as Riley opened the door.

“I got these for you Q.”

“They’re beautiful. Thanks dad.” Then he asked, “Have you been keeping your promise?”

“I’m doing the best I can.”

“You can do it, dad.” The boy smiled despite his lack-of-appetite-sunken-face and his head shiny enough to emit its own light. The boy carefully picked up each flower and studied them as his dad did, but with a deeper focus and deeply inhaled the aroma.

Riley pulled a book out of his backpack pulled up a chair and read to his child until they both fell asleep. Towards the mid-afternoon a nurse woke up Riley which startled Quentin as well.

“It’s time for your operation, Quentin,” the nurse said casually despite the indifference of the cancer ravaging the boy.

“Alright, dad. I’ll see you soon. But remember -” the boy started.

“Take time. The little things. Take time to be happy,” Riley repeated through his smile.

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