Keeping flowers in full bloom

Selina knelt in the second row of pews, alone in the church, praying.  Her face was red and scrunched, her eyes screwed tightly shut.  She clutched an old wooden rosary in her hands, and her fingers slid each bead along the thread obsessively, marking off each repetition of the prayer.  Her clothes, pulled tight around her against the stone-borne chill of the church, were ragged but clean, normally washed daily in the basin of the fountain outside the church.  She told anyone who asked that the fountain flowed with the tears of the saints.

On the altar, in front of the pews, was a white altar cloth embroided in white thread with the names of all the saints.  Selina knew that the secret names of God were written there to those gifted with the sight to see it, but she had never been so blessed.  On top of the altar cloth was a tall glass vase in which stood a bunch of lilies in the full bloom of life.  They had the purest white flowers, and the most vivid green leaves.

And they had been like that, in full bloom, for ninety-four days now.

And Selina had been hunched over in the second row of the pews, muttering her prayers and counting them off on the rosary, for the same length of time.

Father Chapman had approached Selina on the third day, shaken her shoulder gently, and asked her how long she'd been there for.  She'd barely turned her head, and never opened her eyes, and had spared only the breath to tell him that she was keeping the flowers in full bloom.

The End

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