Sarah Daltry’s Flowering Series
Lily of the Valley (Jack’s story)
18+ New Adult contemporary
Jack’s story isn’t pretty. He’s suicidal, depressed, and he uses meaningless sex and alcohol to survive. However, the story is about finding light in the darkness, but sometimes the road there isn’t always easy to walk.
“No one tells you about pain. They tell you that it hurts, that sometimes it’s consuming. What they don’t tell you is that it’s not the pain that can kill you. It’s the uncomfortable numbness that follows, the weakness in your body when you realize your lungs may stop taking in air and you just can’t exert enough energy to care. It’s the way taste and color and smell fade from the world and all you’re left with is a sepia print of misery. That’s when the shift starts – the movement from passive to active. I fall asleep, hoping that the morning will bring back the pain. At least the pain is a thing.”
I’m a plague, a cancer. My mom is dead – and my father is in prison for it. I survived high school because college was my way out. I needed to escape, to get away from my family and the people who tortured me, but it hasn’t grown any easier.
I don’t pretend that I’m a good person. I drink far more than I should, and I use my best friend, Alana, because together, we thrive on destroying each other – as well as the parts of us we hate. I don’t believe in love, but sex is fun and it also makes me feel something.
The morning I see Lily, the beautiful princess who smells inexplicably like strawberries every time I see her, I realize I’m in trouble. I should hate her. I want to hate her, because the alternative terrifies me. However, as she continues to crash into my life (often literally), I can’t avoid feeling something that is the one thing I swore I would never feel. I can’t fall in love, because people like me don’t live in a world where love saves anyone.
She just won’t go away, though, and I don’t know if I can keep running. The voices and the darkness hover over me and they threaten to bring me back to the safety of my hate, but the stupid scent of strawberries lingers on the horizon, as something like hope.
My grandmother is so happy that I agreed to visit with my father on my way back to school that I almost feel okay with the decision. Until we reach the prison and the familiar sickness returns. I can’t turn around now and say I don’t want to go in, but the sky is steel grey and I wonder why it’s never sunny when I come here. Even the weather hates me.
She has a hat on, because it’s a prison day, and I don’t have the heart to tell her that she tries to look nice for a group of lowlifes. I feel like somewhere in her head she convinces herself that she looks like she’s going to church or something and that people will think that’s what she’s doing. She seems to believe that if other people assume she’s not the mother-in-law of a killer, then she’s not the mother-in-law of a killer.
The security check is backed up today because some guy is arguing with the guard about his belt. They want him to leave it at the entrance, since it keeps setting off the metal detectors, but he’s apparently really attached to the stupid thing and doesn’t want to give it up. They argue back and forth and it’s the dumbest conversation I’ve ever heard. And I go to college with frat boys.
“Buddy, you have to take off the belt and leave it, or you can’t get in,” the guard explains. “Unless you can pass through here without setting off the machines, you aren’t going to see anyone.”
“You’re just trying to rob me. You’re all part of the system, man, and I ain’t giving you shit.”
“You’ll get the thing back,” the guard tries to reason.
“Fuck you. You’re just trying to keep me down.”
The guard sighs. “Look, just put the belt right here on this shelf. I will personally watch over it and make sure it’s safe.”
“Why should I trust you? You work for them.”
“I do and I make less than twenty bucks an hour. I don’t care about your damn belt.”
“More than I make. Think you’re so special, judging me, acting like you’re too good for something that belongs to me-”
“Holy fuck, just give him the fucking belt,” I yell. The guard, the random dude, and my grandmother all turn to look at me. “What? This is fucking stupid.”
The guy seems so taken aback that he quietly removes his belt and hands it to the guard. He goes through the metal detector, this time without setting anything off, and turns back to look at me. He shakes his head and mumbles, “Crazy ass motherfucker.”
The guard just stares at me. I walk through the machine and the thing goes insane. It’s my belt ironically. He raises an eyebrow and just holds out his hand. “I need you to leave your belt here.”
I don’t care about the belt or this visit and the sooner we get in, the faster we leave. I hand him my belt and then my grandmother is through. The guard buzzes us into the next area, where a few more guards are sitting in a small office. I wait for them to lead us to the room where we’ll meet my dad. The metal table shines in the fluorescent light. If I stare at it long enough, maybe I’ll go blind.
“No outbursts,” my grandmother warns.
“It wasn’t an outburst. He was wasting time.”
“I don’t care. Your actions impact your father.”
“Yeah, well, his kinda impacted me,” I point out.
She shakes her head and turns to face the door through which my dad will enter. I hate it here. I hate the way the lights are covered in weird metal mesh grates that make it always feel like five o’clock on a winter evening. I hate the way that the voices of other visitors and prisoners bounce off the walls, disembodied and incomprehensible, but invasive enough to remind you that you’ll never be alone in here. I hate how the guards try to treat me like their own kid, as if by being sympathetic it will fix anything. And I especially hate the stupid look of hope that refuses to leave my grandmother’s face no matter how many times we come here. Sometimes I think maybe it’s that look that makes me limit my visits as much as I do, more so than even hating my father. Because the fact that she believes someday things can be okay? Well, there is just nothing I can say about that.
About Sarah Daltry
Sarah Daltry is a girl who writes books. The books are in all genres, because Sarah’s not so great at committing to things. She’s happily married and she and her husband live with their cats in New England. Sarah is painfully shy and, if you are able to find her, she is probably in a corner, hiding. She has also written the urban fantasy romance, Bitter Fruits; the YA gamer geek comedy, Backward Compatible; the literary reimagining, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock; historical erotica, The Quiver of a Kiss; and a variety of erotica and short stories.
Social Media Links: