Laurie Marshall ~ In Lieu of Flowers

The gold­en pothos was left in the front of the chapel when my father’s cas­ket was loaded and tak­en away. They took the wreaths of wilt­ing yel­low ros­es and Assorted Seasonal arrange­ments. They took the flo­ral foam cross­es weighed down with ball chrysan­the­mums suf­fo­cat­ed with spray glit­ter like macabre home­com­ing cor­sages. They took the dis­play lad­der with sev­en pots of lilies that made me sneeze so at least I looked like I was griev­ing so no one would ask why I wasn’t there to see him low­ered into the same vin­dic­tive Texas soil he sprang from and car­ried under his fin­ger­nails his entire life until the under­tak­er cleaned him up to meet his maker.

I placed the pothos in the pas­sen­ger seat, rolled down the win­dows and point­ed his ancient Trans Am west. I drove until the live oaks and pecans shrank to shrubs and were replaced by prick­ly pears and chol­la. Somewhere between a board­ed-up gas sta­tion and a dry wash I pulled over and threw what was left of him over the barbed wire into the sage­brush where it could shriv­el and die from neglect like every­thing else he left behind.


Laurie Marshall is a writer and artist work­ing in Northwest Arkansas. Recent sto­ries have been award­ed the 2021 Lascaux Flash Fiction Prize, includ­ed in the 2022 Bath Flash Fiction Award anthol­o­gy, and nom­i­nat­ed for Best Small Fictions 2022. She reads for Fractured Lit and Longleaf Review. Words and art have been pub­lished in Emerge Literary Journal, Versification, Bending Genres, Twin Pies Literary, and Flash Frog among oth­ers. Connect on Twitter @LaurieMMarshall.