Old Flowers by AndromedaMarine
Glancing over at the table where they had piled all their work-related junk – unfinished or unread mission reports, numerous papers that she hadn't read yet or the like – Elizabeth Sheppard saw the vase her mother had given her a week before she left for Atlantis. It was an antique vase, dating back maybe three hundred years – into colonial times. Elizabeth noticed the bouquet of now-dead flowers drooping sadly over the piles of paperwork and she frowned. She had last seen old flowers when she was with Simon, over ten years ago.
Elizabeth sat up in bed, squinting through the light that shone in from the balcony. She gazed at the old flowers for a few moments, then got out of the bed and padded over. She sat at the table and rested her chin in her hands. For a few minutes the remained there, looking at and admiring the way the flowers retained their beauty long after death. They had been preserved in their death, not one of the flowers missing a petal or leaf – a property of Atlantean flowers Elizabeth had grown to love. She gently touched a drooping rose and was shocked when the light touch caused the head of the rose to fall, anguished, to the tabletop.
As though she had killed it Elizabeth clapped a hand over her mouth and stared at the now-broken head on the table. Her back was to the door and when she heard the familiar hiss of the door opening she continued to look at the flowers.
Suddenly the old bouquet disappeared, Elizabeth's eyes following it up until a new bouquet – full of color and vivacity – descended and took the place of the old flowers Elizabeth had spent part of her morning admiring. She turned around and saw her husband, John, smiling at her. "I don't even remember when those flowers got there," Elizabeth said softly, returning her gaze to the vase.
"I do," John said, beginning to massage her shoulders. "It was seven years, two months, and fourteen days ago." He smiled down and placed a kiss in her hair.
"How do you remember that?" Elizabeth asked, astonished. She reached up and grasped one of John's hands.
"It was the day you told me you were pregnant with Joanna."
Elizabeth smiled. She remembered, but it was a feat in itself that the flowers had remained untouched since their daughter's birth. "What are these for?"
"Last night you told me you were pregnant, remember?"
His wife smiled even larger. "Oh, yes. I do remember."
The husband and wife gazed at the new flowers, which would grow old and be replaced twice more.
Elizabeth Sheppard loved old flowers.