Bouquet Garni

She has lost him completely, and that evening she coughs up anemones while brushing her teeth. They sting as they surface, sweet-sharp, but once they’re out there’s relief. The flowers squat awkwardly in the soap-stained sink. She flushes them away and makes warm milk to settle her stomach.

In the night she retches seedheads, carefully rinses them and sows them in a flowerpot.

Carnations are next, emerging with mucus on her morning run. The petals make yellow splashes on the tarmac and she sprints on, ashamed. But the next day she passes the same spot and cuts herself a bouquet. She tastes metal and nectar when the scissors slice.

The petals make yellow splashes on the tarmac and
she sprints on, ashamed

It gets worse. At work she nicks her thumb and a daffodil sprouts from the wound. She takes her smoke break early, gently uproots the bulb and plants it around the back of the shopping centre. It hasn’t rained in weeks and the earth is scorched beige. She drinks so much water her stomach bloats.

The roses put her in hospital, where she’s shown grainy photographs of her insides. There are forget-me-nots in her stomach, hollyhocks in her belly and morning glory climbing her spine. If it spreads any further they’ll have to operate. She looks at the royal blue flowers and thinks that her back has felt straighter lately. 

Her mother keeps watch at the bathroom door, but she still throws up azaleas in the middle of the night. The acrid air makes her throat ache. When she sweats celandines grow. Drought warnings are issued and she cries snapdragons into the shriveled lawn. Her father double-locks the shed. 

On the bus she sees him. He’s not alone. 

Sleep won’t come. Her room is a greenhouse and her throat and arms are scratched raw. Before long sweet-peas barricade her door, their foliage muffling her parents’ pleas. When she hacks up blood and cyclamen she knows it is time.

There are forget-me-nots in her stomach, hollyhocks in her belly and morning glory climbing her spine

Clematis vines gentle her down the drainpipe. Nasturtiums and marigolds build a path for her, a yellow brick road to the hill where they would meet. At the top of the town she lies in the hot grass and chokes up primroses, while all around the air grows heavier with held-back water. Finally, like a mushroom, it bursts. Spores of rain beat the petals clear. Raindrops soaks her hair and wash the salt from her cheeks and thump her back her while she coughs. The wind croons and rocks her, but still the flowers surge.

By sunrise the whole hillside is ablaze. White violets, cornflowers, lily-of-the-valley and poppies, bluebells and irises showing off their nightgowns, crocuses and daisies and dandelions. A fir sapling stands guard at her head. A cacophony of colour after the storm. A beacon, to make sure she’s found.

Holly Sharpe 3.jpg

art by Holly sharpe

Holly Sharpe is an artist and illustrator from Scotland, UK. Her work usually explores colour, fashion, and female expression whilst constantly exploring new ideas and playing with different aesthetics. Holly originally studied Printed Textiles, and this is feeding into her work more and more as her work becomes more layered and tactile with a strong patterned aesthetic, namely in her recent 'collage' works. Instagram: @hollysharpe_drawings

Mary Scott is a British writer living in Cambridge. In her free time she enjoys raising succulents and reading myths. Mary is an MA student at Goldsmith's College, London, and can be found online at