Daisy was closing old accounts when she got the call about Mr. F’s heart attack—not a surprise, seeing as the travel agency, like a sack of beans with a hole in the bottom, had been hemorrhaging clientele for years without a wise observer to ask, “Where did all these sprouts come from?” In fact, Mr. F reminded her of the Egyptians in the Bible who had turned their eyes away from liberation, the ones she had lamented in Sunday school. Daisy flung the bells inside the door and shuttered the curtains. She rushed through the slush-filled downtown streets to the hospital.
Mr. F lay prone like a mummy and the room smelled of upended dirt. “Daisy,” he said. His hands shook as they brushed against the inside cover of the client docket, almost ripping the first page. “Did you help Mrs. Eddleston with her cruise?”
“You should rest,” she said, wondering about the oncoming rain in the air.
“Run the figures again,” he said, hands pressed firm against the green sprouts that flourished in the humid hospital room. Daisy watched them impend over the bed, twisting around the safety rails like cats on a balcony. “The river's flooded over and we need more boats.”
She snatched back the papers. “I called your sons,” she said, tucking it underneath her arm. She turned to the door, looking for a switch for the sun lamp.
Mr. F laughed. “Want some water?” he asked, tilting a purple blossom the size of the X-ray machine toward her. It spilled over her white button-down.
“They’re flying in tonight!” She had to shout, hugging her chest so he couldn’t see her beige bra. Mr. F gave her a thumbs-up.
The hospital bed rocked in the waves. It gushed from the third-floor window and sailed out towards the red horizon.
She left. She sued him for harassment, breach of contract, and cultural appropriation. One snowy Saturday, she opened her mailbox and smelled new rain, potting soil, and the funk of rampant nature. She sneezed as she opened the envelope and pulled out the $50,000 check. Then she put on her puffer jacket and trudged to the bank. By Tuesday, the envelope had sprouted, turning her home into a rainbow of lamb’s ears, chrysanthemums, and daffodils that gave not a single fuck about the season. Next weekend, she would trim them back, she decided, eating hot dogs and beans atop a giant radish throne.
Maria S. Picone—수영—is a Korean American adoptee who won Cream City Review’s 2020 Summer Poetry Prize. She has been published in Ice Floe Press, Bending Genres, Whale Road Review, and more, including Best Small Fictions 2021. She has received grants from Kenyon Review, Lighthouse Writers, GrubStreet, The Watering Hole, SAFTA, The Speakeasy Project, and others. She is the prose editor at Chestnut Review. Her website is mariaspicone.com, Twitter @mspicone.