Eleven giant daisies lie neatly on the lawn, each one perfect. Collateral damage. I accidently cut the stalks that held them when trying to chop out the ones that had died. I am careless today.
It must be the tiredness. They ‘made you comfortable’. You are ‘at rest now’. I am uncomfortable and restless and cannot sleep.
Or maybe it is the term deadheading that is making me clumsy. I keep tripping over the word dead. The sound of it jangles in my brain, like keys for a house you can no longer visit.
It is the daisies’ fault in a way. They are so twisted, the healthy ones wound round the dying and the dead. And sometimes they are on the same stems.
Cut them right back as far as you can, the book said, and so I do. I hold a thick green stem I have detached from the clump and look at the wizened flower on the end. Its tiny claw petals curl over gripping onto the dull gold centre. But there is a flawless daisy hanging from a thin, fresh stalk on the disconnected stem. Orphaned. I did not see it until it was too late. These mistakes keep on happening. There are fifteen pristine daisies on the lawn now. They will look nice in a jug. For a little while anyway.
The deadheading is soothing in a way. Snipping. Making small inconsequential decisions. It is easy to know which daisies are alive and which are definitely dead. The dying ones are the problem. I decide I like their imperfections and let the wilted flowers stay. And the ones with gaps where petals are supposed to be.
In the flowerbed, three days later, most of the daisies are truly dead. So I cut them down and all that is left are green stumps poking through the soil, their milky innards shiny in the August sun. And where they had leant over the lawn, in a tangled arabesque, there is a patch of bare earth.
About the Contributor
Sadie Nott is a London-based writer. She has a PhD in psychology and has published two non-fiction books. She studied creative writing at City Lit and is finalising her first novel. Her website is sadienott.com.
Losing the Dead - Lisa Appignanesi
In this evocative family memoir Appignanesi travels to Warsaw to uncover her parents' wartime lives as Jews who survived outside the death camps. It is a book about how we become entangled in the spoken and unspoken stories of our parents – a kind of intergenerational haunting – and about the importance of engaging with these encoded tales. The dead are lost, says Appignanesi, but, by remembering, we can ultimately 'lose them properly'.
More from Issue Nine:
- The Place That He Can Never Return To
- The Cyclops
- The Girl with Many Names by Kristin LaFollette
- Three by Deb Scudder
- The Mourner by Louise Burgess
- Margot by Marni Appleton
- Pebbles on a Shore by Lynne E Blackwood
- blindfolded minds by Rachel Hawkins
- Phantom habits by Blakeley Bartee
- Dementia’s Mantra by Mike Ferguson
- Pack Animals