COSMOS • by J.M. Cinq-Mars

Mrs. Frost always gave unusual tips after I gassed up her Mercedes. Hard candy, a pamphlet on holistic medicine, a vial of tea tree oil she said I could use for an ear infection. One Saturday she gave me cosmos seeds. I choked on my thanks.

My brother used to mow around the cosmos in his field in Blandford. In-between burying his ATV in swamps and getting kicked out of the Blandford Tavern for the forty-second time, he mowed around the cosmos.

We were sitting in the giant teepee he constructed in his backyard, watching the New York Giants in preseason, and I asked him why he did it. He looked shocked. “They’re pretty,” he answered.

When we were kids he taught me how to throw a football. “It’s an art,” he said. He believed this even the day after his future ended on a field in Longmeadow, his right knee unhinged and the talent scouts already on the way back to their rental cars. He taught me so well I was always first or second pick when the neighborhood kids played touch football, even though I was a girl.

He had been west of me my whole life. The Berkshires were his stomping ground. I had stayed in the city, bought a house, and was afraid to leave. He told me many times the city didn’t make people like us happy. He was right, of course, but my cowardice had taken root.

Once, he walked into the station while I was behind the counter. White summer light followed him in. “Come up the mountain,” he told me. “I built a greenhouse.” When I asked him what for he beamed and whispered, “Pot.”

He followed me half-way out to the Mercedes that had pulled up to full serve. He touched my elbow. “You can do better then this,” he said softly.

“I know,” I said. And hugged him and said good-bye.

“Is that your brother?” Mrs. Frost asked as I lifted the nozzle.

“Yes,” I said. That was all I ever told her.

When she gave me the cosmos seeds the Giants were already hoping for a wildcard. My lawn in the city was burnt yellow with a few crazy tufts of overgrown green. And my father had already come to my doorstep to say, “It’s Ronnie,” and had tried to catch me as I fell.

There is no catching to be done. There is no teepee anymore, no greenhouse, and no art form. But there is an unopened packet of cosmos seeds on my kitchen counter. And there is a dusty lawn to cut, with just enough gas in the mower to do it.

And there is one more thing. I shut the mower off, squint, fall to my knees. In a moment I cannot see through the tears. The world is silent, and the single cosmos flower awaits its fate.

J.M. Cinq-Mars is currently lost in the wilds of Western Massachusetts, gamely serving customers while biting her tongue. Writing keeps the insanity at bay.

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 average 1 stars • 1 reader(s) rated this

Every Day Fiction

  • Celeste

    A well-deserved BIG FIVE from me. That was one of the most moving stories I’ve read here for a long long time. Beautifully crafted story and a well-painted world. This would make a lovely novella. I loved this. Keep writing. More stories from you, please.

  • Five fom me too; brought tears. Beautiful story.

  • Amy Corbin

    I loved this. Such beautiful writing.

  • Excellent.

  • Margie

    I’ll never look at Cosmos the same again! A beauifully written story! Keep up the good work.

  • “cosmos seeds”? “mow around the cosmos”? I don’t get it. What is this story about?

    But I certainly hope the New York Giants make the playoffs!

  • Mike

    ‘is currently lost in the wilds of Western Massachusetts’…

    How ’bout just plain lost!

  • I see all the comments as to how beautiful this story is, but I don’t understand what it is about. Can someone explain? What does ‘cosmos’ mean in the context of this story? What are ‘cosmos seeds’?

  • M Edwards

    I read “seeds” and “mow around the cosmos” it’s fairly simple to deduce that these are a type of flower. With an internet search you can actually find pictures of these flowers.
    A moving story, truly beautiful. Thanks for this great piece of flash fiction.

  • Just lovely, my favourite for weeks.
    thanks for sharing

  • J.C. Towler

    I liked most of this but was confused at one point: Mrs. Frost is involved as part of the flashback in the beginning and then she shows up in the flashback where Ronnie visits the service station. In the flashback, Ronnie “walked into the station while I was behind the counter” and then in the same scene, same moment Mrs. Frost says: “Is that your brother?” Mrs. Frost asked as I lifted the nozzle”.

    So is the MC behind the counter or fueling the car? Part of the confusion is that she’s gassing up Mrs. Frost at the start of the story.

    Don’t know about anybody else, but it made me do a double take.


  • Jen

    This was wonderful and well deserving of a five.

  • Deborah

    I really enjoyed this story – very, very touching. Your MC’s emotion was illustrated well without going over the top, which could have easily happened in this story. Well done, you! The only constructive advice I have is to perhaps use past perfect tense in this story. Parts seemed a bit choppy without it. Again, it was beautiful. I hope you keep up with your writing.

  • Rob

    Harsh like life, yet dream-like in it’s writing. Nicely done.

  • Barry Charman

    I liked this, a well written, sad, little character piec.e I do think it started off a little confusing, however, the word cosmos creating jarringly undefined imagery.

  • Elin B.

    I find this a little melodramatic though well-crafted; is it insinuating that growing pot in a greenhouse leads to some unfortunate situation involving 20 pounds of smack and a thug-fueled break-in? Or are we to understand the brother did himself in via overdose of cheese doodles?

    Either way, I admire the writing, just find the story here a bit fruity.

  • Very good story. I would have left off the last paragraph however – may have made it less melodramatic.

  • J Fox

    I knew ronnie.. he never changed. he was an amazing man and J.M turned out to be an amazing women. This story im very sure is true and so like ronnnie.. heres to you ronnie!