Searching

Written with my Thursday group with the prompts:  a blur from the beginning, among the garbage and the flowers, half tempted, they’ll never understand, new normal, Margaret needs her own room, I love the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night, fireworks in Madrid, red eye, not fragile like a flower, fragile like a bomb

Naomi was half tempted to quit, but she just kept going.  “They’ll never understand,” she muttered to herself as she waded in among the garbage and the flowers.  “They’ll never understand.”  It had become like a mantra to her, a bitter acknowledgement of a new normal.  The sun was stretching streaks of gray across the horizon, dissolving like a red eye into the western river.  It reminded her of a night in Madrid years ago; the sky was smoky, the sun was bleeding, but the city deigned to set off fireworks. It still haunted her.

She reached into her satchel and pulled out a flashlight.  She could not stop searching.  A glint of silver in the sand attracted her but it was a slip of foil, maybe a gum wrapper.  She moved on, scanning the ground ahead of her, waving the torch slowly from side to side like a blind woman with a cane.  They’ll never understand, she thought again.  She thought she heard a voice, maybe the voice of her dead mother, telling her she could begin again in the morning.  It would be all right.  But what would Margaret do, what would she say, if Naomi came back empty-handed? Margaret was so fragile—not fragile like a flower, fragile like a bomb.  If only they’d give Margaret her own room.  Margaret and her parakeet.  Margaret and her snake.

Naomi stopped and took a deep breath.  It had all been a blur from the beginning, but now there was a break in the smoke over her shoulder, in the south.  A few stars peeked though.  A large star was tinged red.  Probably Mars.  Naomi loved the stars.  She knew now it would be safe to stay out here all night.

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