Posted on November 25, 2010


By Sarah-Clare Conlon…

As luck would have it, Roy’s ran out at the hottest point of the day. The crickets had worked themselves into an ear-shattering frenzy; the Tarmac in the valley below wobbled like a long blackcurrant jelly towards the sparse hills; the nearby ripe red wine grapes made the arid air as high as the aftermath of a middle-class dinner party.

The traumatic temperature, blinding brightness and thickening thirst conspired to make Roy light-headed and not fully attached to the earth he worked; as if he was watching himself in a dream. It seemed unreal, squatting down under the lush canopy of the grotesquely huge plants in this immense glass and wrought iron structure, where Roy’s emotions were hothoused daily into a hallucinatory intensity.

Dizzy with the thick scent of flower cultivation, he was under the spell of the beautiful specimens whose lives he maintained only until he cut them short in all their pretty prime. His was the pursuit of perfumes for the Parisian set. Victims of fashion for fashion victims, he always mused secretly, although he loved the ladies who he helped make glamorous as much as he loved these lilies he so delicately gilded. And Roy wasn’t alone in this profession, he was just one of many more artisan horticulturists grafting away in the stifling atmosphere up here; his greenhouse just one among hundreds piled up in terraces tumbling across the steep slope, terracotta villas tottering virtually overhead and leering down from above.

With his senses drunk on his heady surrounds and lost in his own land of thoughts, Roy seemed cast adrift with reverse vertigo; the gendarmes assumed that’s why he couldn’t leave after he’d looked up. When the glass squeaked, all he could do was gaze into the shower of shards that shattered around him, shearing off leaves and lives and scattering colours across the floor. A red tear trickled from Roy’s eye. He’d been the luckiest man alive.

Posted in: Flash Fiction