Concrete Flowers

The air is crisp, there is a cool breeze that wisps through her hair. Her baby is giggling and running through the field of wildflowers. He is so happy, his tiny smile is beaming from ear to ear. She felt safe enough to let go of his hand and allow him to explore this beautiful land. He is close enough for her to grab him but far enough for him to feel independent. She stopped for a moment and looked up at the sky, the clouds were so big and fluffy that day. The sky was beautiful turquoise blue, and she inhaled and took the deepest breath, a sigh of relief.

Her child was full of questions — why are the trees so tall, mommy? He exclaimed — where do clouds come from? She answered his questions the best she knew how. Both were truly at peace. They stopped and gave each other the biggest bear hug, in that moment nothing mattered, life paused. She wanted to take this minute and seal it up and put it in a jar to hold forever.

This little family wanted to keep exploring, keep pretending to be on the bear hunt looking for treasure. As they continued to walk, the clouds were getting darker, the ground was getting thicker, and all the wildflowers were burnt and dehydrated. Something felt different, Something felt unsafe. She held her child’s hand this time looking for another way back to the wildflower field, but she couldn’t see it. It was out of sight. She no longer holds his hand but now he is in her arms grasping his tiny body tight. Now she knows something bad is approaching.

The sky turned black and the ground started separating, hot sticky liquid was bubbling where there once was wildflowers. The air was harsh, unable to breathe. She could see a dark figure approaching.

The body was tall and their arms were long and contorted. The figure had a thick mane of hair that was braided into what looked like a crown. His feet were moving faster, closer, quicker. She was on this little piece of debris, thinking what her next move would be. Her child was screaming, no longer asking questions as to why the sky is blue. But wanting to know who that is?

The figure stopped in the middle of the burning flames of debris and was dancing. He looked up at the sky, took a deep breath and exhaled. Just like she did before, he was happy, this was his peace.

She is searching and looking, holding onto this fragile small soul with all her might as close as she possibly can, thinking and planning, figuring out her next move. He is right there, she can now see his contorted dark body clearer.

She does what any mother would do and looks at him in his dark soulless eyes. She sees a small opening behind him. How is she going to get over there? He reaches, his contorted body attempting to grab the baby out of her arms. In a deep voice, he tells her he has the right to. As his arms get closer, she shields her child in her arms. One arm around his body and one arm protecting his head. Knowing she may fall, knowing he can grab her, she jumps…

She jumps past the demon whose arms are flailing, banging on his chest yelling, “THAT’S MY SON!” The ground was unstable, the sticky liquid was still bubbling but she moved farther away for that moment. The battle wasn’t over. The sky was still dark. He was still screaming. She could not take a breath of fresh air. She can see him, thinking, plotting, figuring out how he can get to her. What kind of tactic he can pull to get closer and closer to that baby — how to destroy her.

They say “just leave him.” That is her reality after she left. This is her life as a single mother who survived domestic violence. Fighting a war with the system and the man who feels at peace dancing in the fiery hell. Hold onto that baby tight and just keep going. The air is still thick, unable to find that crisp blue sky she looks up anyway, holding on to hope that they will be okay. Remembering that moment she had in the field of blue skies and wildflowers. Knowing this is her new reality.

She is just a mom dealing with the devil dancing in the flames of a broken system.