To Stop and Smell the Flowers

This flash fiction is in response to K.R. Summers’s Creativity Challenge #2. After reading the prompt I immediately thought of this dream, this nightmare that I’ve had hundreds of times, and wanted to write something that could draw a reader into the character, fear, and inevitability I’ve experienced so often. Thank you for the inspiration, K.R.!

***

 
The mouse touched the blade gratifyingly, sniffed the sweet water and natural sugars in the tender grass. The dew quenched his thirsty tongue as he bit into the bottom of the shaft and chopped the grass down from its former height.

He folded his prize, stuffing the sweet blade into his mouth so that it wouldn’t trip him on the voyage home. The mouse then took off through the lesser grasses, those that were too tall and rough or too young and spindly, navigating back using the homey smell of his own dandruff. He shook out his fox red coat, hoping to leave his scent here to remind himself where he’d been. The heart in his chest beat hard, each moment outside of the colony ever more dangerous.

Home sat over the next couple anthills, near the puddle made by elephant’s footprints. Each time the rain fell, the puddle welled up with cooling water from which the mouse enjoyed sipping.

The mouse paused, feeling the earth vibrating beneath his feet. Something, something heavy and in a hurry, thundered nearer. He stuffed the piece of grass further in his mouth and pushed apart the grass in his way.

An ant scurried over his foot, so the mouse hastily retracted his paw. He hid in the scrubby weeds off to the side, his breath rapid and shallow for a few moments. Upon settling, the mouse decided the light creeping of an ant couldn’t cause the movement in the earth that reverberated across the plains. He held tight his grass, the leaf litter underfoot soft though it shook with the soil underneath.

He took a risk and stood on his hind legs, peering over the growth to see what might have scared the ant to action. A whiff of the air, fresh and windy above the grass, brought information from upwind. The scent of elephants, of their fear, wafted toward the mouse.

A stampede encroached upon his territory. He had little time to make it back to the colony, underground, and hope for safety.

Though the earth moved with ominous jolts, a meager flower caught the mouse’s
eye. Ignoring for now the impending elephants, the mouse blinked and crept toward the four petals on a spindly stem. He pulled the grass out of his mouth and let it fall, the dust of the earth sticking to where he had slathered the blade with spit.

The delicate flower’s light, powdery scent flooded his nostrils. His sharp teeth nibbled lightly on the edges of the flower and tore off tiny bits of lovely purple, his tongue tasting the delightful violet.

The stampede rushed ever closer, the trumpeting of the elephants giving fair warning to the innocents in their path.

The mouse felt his heart throb, nearly coming out of his chest. It bit the stem of the flower and hugged it to himself.

A giant foot above him blocked off the sunlight.

7 thoughts on “To Stop and Smell the Flowers

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