Excerpt from “Ophelia” (title to be changed)
Written by Melissa Grace Hoon
She wouldn’t allow her gaze to look past the dandelion. Although attached to a stem and the stem to the roots in the ground, the seemingly hundreds of white feathery flower heads danced astray from one another in the wind. The more transfixed her stare became, the more Ophelia wished she were one of the dandelion’s waif-like threads. At least, then, she’d feel freer than she did at that moment, with the imaginary, yet, morbidly prominent shackles that bound her to her front-row seat at her mother’s funeral.
With Ophelia’s eyes now maddeningly piercing the to-and-fro of the dandelion–or perhaps it was that the spirit of the dandelion was instead piercing her own stare–she still could faintly see her father to her right, in his crisply pressed black suit that any half-wit observer could tell was a simple vessel masking a lone party adrift at sea, looking onward to his so-called lover of twenty years, now deceased. Somehow, Ophelia was sure, his blank look deceived onlookers into believing his sorrow. But she knew his stare was only bait to fool them into empathizing with his agony, heartbreak and loss. But, Ophelia thought, what had he really lost? Or, rather, what did he hold to be true loss by his own standards? Only five days prior, before the accident, she and her mother played in the yard, planting red roses and picking white dandelions. Her mother watched Ophelia run across the lawn, amidst the dandelions’ flowing, feathered florets. But, somehow, her mother knew Ophelia was not amidst the florets–the strong-willed, spontaneous eleven-year-old was never simply amidst anything; rather, she flowed with anything she was in the presence of, as if she were part of it, within it, it within her, sharing the same mass or even DNA. Knowing this, Ophelia’s mother looked on with a smile that she felt pumping wider with every flutter of her growing heart, for knew that she, too, was in Ophelia’s presence, which reminded her that she and her daughter were one in the same. I am always with Ophelia, she told herself that fateful day as she watched her daughter skip through the yard, songbirds trailing–everything always followed Ophelia–the sun beginning to set in the distance as the evening bestowed a chilling shudder amongst those in its prevailing dusk. Ophelia’s mother walked toward her daughter, shedding her own light sweater from her shoulders, draping it onto Ophelia to protect her from any cold that was to come in the falling night.