Follow the spectral scent, heavy and sweet, like Bee-orchids in an August heat. It leads down to the tingling streams of youth; fires the senses, trips the memory. I am with fireflies in France — a festival.

Blind tulip stalks, and the bent and brown-tipped spikes of a daffodilled spring, stand among my lilac clouds of thyme, the dancing pink of London Pride, the purple heads of sage and soon-to-be-blue of mature lavender. Older and wiser the garden ever grows, city-tall with irises, foxgloves and hollyhocks, outdoing each other until at last nasturtiums climb the hedge.

I saw a young man urinating against a wall in Lacaune and diverted my eyes to the blush of pelargonium and lobelia drooping from a sill. The air was scented with oregano, stocks and sweet pea. Rose-Marie and I lit a cigarette to share — Gitanes Maïs. I coughed. He turned; looked straight through my prissy reserve and laughed out loud; as if French pee was more potent than its English counterpart. Rose-Marie, four years my junior, for whom it was ‘normal, quoi’ walked away and left me to wilt under his scorn. She had dancing to do, groin on groin.

I begin to feel my age. My circle is now the circle of my garden. My eyes are clouded but my mind is clear. I no longer blush. Only age can envisage the winter garden while the sun is still high but past its zenith; can taste the bitter rhubarb of July and promise hydrangea and Michaelmas asters to the mind’s eye.

Where is he now, that monstrously alive youth? No longer young, for sure. He will, like me, have lost his bloom, have changed moment to moment, developed lines around those deep brown eyes. I wonder whether he ever asked himself, as I have; what is the risk that, if I pluck this rose, I will get stuck by a thorn? I wonder whether he forbore or bled.

Flowers once slow to form, pass swiftly now season on season. From bare branch laden with blossom, to fruit and nut and back to bare branch, seems but a breath. I know how the worm turns; how the Earth turns. Time flows as swift as pissing against a wall.

Oonah V Joslin lives in Northumberland, England. Winner of Micro Horror Prizes 2007 and 2008. Most read in EDF, Jan 2008. Guest judge in the Shine Journal 2008 Poetry Competition. Bewildering Stories Quarterly 4 2007 and 1 and 2 in 2008. She has had work published in Bewildering Stories, Twisted Tongue 8 & 9, Static Movement, 13 Human Souls, Back Hand Stories and The Pygmy Giant, Lit Bits, The Linnet’s Wings, The Ranfurly Review and Boston Literary Magazine. The list is growing every month which pleases her immensely! You can link to work, follow up-dates and contact Oonah at http://www.writewords.org.uk/oonah/ or http://www.oonahs.blogspot.com. She thanks everyone who takes the time to read and comment.

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Every Day Fiction