TRAMPLED • by Harding McFadden

“Jacob, Julien, Esther…”

Of all the things in all of the world that Marinette could do, her most favorite thing of all was to sit in the center of the patch of flowers behind her school at recess and name them.  For thirty minutes a day, five days a week, she would sit among the small clutches of flowers, delicately petting each one and bestowing a name upon it.  Never did she use the same name twice; nor did she ever give one flower more than a single name.

“…Billy, Bobby, Ginny…”

Lovingly she would name them, each special because each was unique.  Seated with them in the beautiful floral dresses that her mother had lovingly made for her, it would have been easy to mistake little Marinette for a flower herself.  In her unique, child’s way, her world was perfect.

“…Nomie, Isaac, Elly…

The sun was bright, the day warm, but comfortably so.  The other children were playing loudly, with hyperactive games of hide-and-seek, tag, and freeze tag working as place-holders for the games of war they would play when they were bigger children. Marinette didn’t care for these games, being happy and content with her flowers, and the fresh cut grass beneath her bare feet.

A sense of serenity had enveloped her, as it always did for thirty minutes a day, five days a week, one which was abruptly shattered by a kindless boy.  With no warning at all, noisy little Isaac stormed through her flowers, knocking her over and spraying her with dirt and grass. Seeing the destruction that the boy had wrought, Marinette began to cry.  Being full of the quick cruelty unique to young boys, Isaac shoved her roughly with his foot, shouting, “Be quiet, you stupid-head!”

No further thought for the crying girl in his mind, Isaac ran off to rejoin his game of preparatory war, at which he always won.

Sitting up again, Marinette looked at the retreating back of the boy, a calm disgust in her young eyes.  Without needing to take her eyes from him, she reached out and plucked the flower that bore his name and held it before her.

“Isaac,” she whispered, crushing the flower in her delicate hand.  She found, instantly, that she was no longer dirty, her dress no longer soiled, her flowers no longer trampled.  Isaac was no longer there, though no one would miss him.  He would never be remembered, like Paul, Stevey, Kevvy…  All simply gone and forgotten, like flowers trampled underfoot.

Smiling, the world right again, she sat there, among the flowers, like a little flower herself, petting and naming them, each a kind friend.  Never did she use the same name twice; nor did she give one flower more than a single name.  Lovingly she named them, because each one was special, each one unique.

Harding McFadden is a milkman who lives in PA with his family and thousands of books.

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 average 4 stars • 3 reader(s) rated this

Every Day Fiction

  • Sarah Crysl Akhtar

    Perfect little gem of a story. Five stars.

  • Michael Stang

    I can hear Sterling giving us his twilight intro. Is it not nice that we feel 100% behind her? Your writing made that happen…five stars.

  • Roberta SchulbergGoro

    At a certain pre-adolescent age boys and girls have almost nothing to do with each other and tend to dislike and ignore each other. I’m surprised the boy gave her so much attention. He must have been growing up into the next phase of maturing life, wanted her attention, and didn’t know how to handle it. The story is well-written like an old fashioned fairy tale. Like the Rumpelstiltskin story I suppose she escaped him to find some other names.

  • Rob

    I completely agree with #1 & 2. Full marks from me.

  • Tina Wayland

    I love the way this loops–right back to the beginning, but with a different feeling. Innocence lost. Lovely.

  • Count me in with the way this works. A very deceptive and economical little chiller.

  • Joanne

    Nice story! At first I was thinking I knew a girl like Marinette — a girl who was in one of my classes several years ago, who’d somehow retained innocence and wonder and a Laura Ingalls look and personality when her friends were all wearing tops that bared their pierced belly-buttons— but then I got to Isaac. Chilling.

  • Karen B

    Love it! Nice little twist. Well done!

  • I did not see the end coming, at all. Beautifully done, and with an economy of words.

  • Rose Gardener

    This is one of those stories where the combination of writing and content touched me in such a way that I wanted to give it six stars, not five. I’ll compromise with 5 Trientalis borealis; a starflower by any other name. Good job, Harding.

  • Wonderfully understated chiller. Nicely done.

  • Chilling!

    A great little story.

  • Carl

    I also was thinking of the Twilight Zone. Sort of reminiscent of “It’s a Good Life.”