Mariel’s flower

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A woman handed the flower to Francisco, who, in turn, handed it to Mariel.

It was a fake flower, dipped in a blue dye with dried baby’s breath attached to the “stem” with florist’s tape. A small white bear was glued onto the base of the flower and the whole thing was wrapped in a sheath of plastic.

Inwardly, I groaned, annoyed by the fact that the “gift”–however kind a gesture–was going to become part of the detritus of our life, more clutter, more waste, another thing that will eventually make its way to a landfill, once all the novelty has been squeezed out of it.

But at the same time, the flower became an object upon which all sorts of emotions were projected.

You can’t see it clearly here, especially since the photo is sideways, but Mariel has the flower in her hand and she is tapping a stranger on the leg with it. While Francisco shopped for shoes, I followed Mariel as she approached shoppers to give them the flower. Some would look at her and smile, charmed and delighted, happy to take the flower, pretend to smell it, and then give it back to her. Some would take the flower distractedly if she insisted that they take it, then push it back into her hand. And others would ignore her completely, moving with determination and purpose toward a shoe, oblivious to the people around them, including the small child who barely reached their mid-calf, tapping them lightly on the leg with a fake blue flower.

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