Special thanks to the highly talented Icy Sedgwick who provided the photo prompt for this story.
Kelly’s life began with a lie.
Hector planted the first seed. “Of course I’ll use protection, beautiful,” he smiled. “I love you. Let’s do this.”
For Megan, the walk of shame to the pharmacy counter was almost as mortifying as sitting on the frosty bathroom tiles of her childhood home, staring at a stick she’d just peed on and feeling the future dissipate into the wind.
“Megan? Are you okay in there?”
Megan jumped at the sound of her father’s voice. “Y-Yes,” she lied, watering the seed. “Everything’s fine.”
The news hit Hector like a bullet to the brain, spraying his dreams and aspirations into blood-soaked oblivion. Forcing a smile, he took Megan’s hand and silently ticked off all the things his mother would want him to say. “Will you… be my wife?” he finally asked.
“I…I’d love to,” Megan whispered. The roots pushed their way into the earth.
Their daughter Kelly came screaming into world eight months later, piercing into Hector’s raging hangover. He prayed he would just black out but unconsciousness eluded him.
Belinda, the new secretary, reeled him in with a wink and a smile four days after Kelly’s first birthday. Hector dialled home, told Megan he would be working late and quickly hung up to cut the sound of Kelly’s wails. After a few months, he stopped calling and Megan stopped expecting him to.
“Hey, let me help you with that.”
Megan turned to meet the next door neighbour, Cody, who effortlessly scooped up three bags of her groceries and carried them inside. As the year dragged on, her reliance on Cody grew. During endless nights of pretending to be asleep, she found herself wondering what sort of dad Cody would make, while Hector stumbled into the room still reeking of perfume.
The shoots broke through the dirt, reaching towards the sun.
“Daddy, can we have a doggy?” begged Kelly.
Hector, who had no intention of cleaning up dog poop now that his daughter was finally toilet trained, smiled and shook his head. “No, sweetie, it’s a big responsibility we can’t afford right now.” He thought about the diamond necklace he’d just bought Belinda and how beautiful it looked on her.
Thick, vibrant leaves uncoiled from their stems.
Megan sank into the couch, planning her next words to Cody. She felt a sudden, stern tug on the tails of her dress.
“Mummy, are you happy?”
Megan blinked down at Kelly. “Of course I am, honey. Why wouldn’t I be?”
The flowers were in bloom.