Friday Fictioneers – In Memoriam – Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

Every week, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields (thank you, Rochelle!) hosts a flash fiction challenge, to write a complete story, based on a photoprompt, with a beginning, middle and end, in 100 words or less. This week’s prompt was a beautiful photograph, but it took me to a place of sadness. No matter how hard I tried to go elsewhere, this was the story that I had to write.

FF - In Memoriam 180221

PHOTO PROMPT © Marie Gail Stratford

In Memoriam – Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

The gardeners worked hard. They mulched the soil, banished pests, fought diseases and pruned; pruned so gently and so carefully, shaping the rose bushes to produce beautiful and healthy flowers.

Fourteen bushes stood in an oval bed surrounded by immaculate lawn. The blooms were red, orange, pink, and yellow, teasing the eye with vibrant potential. Their sweet perfume delighted.

What was in the young man’s mind? Pain begets pain – but he knew what he was doing. He stripped those blooms, slew the gardeners, with a hail of lead.

He ended their potential.

Rest in peace, beautiful blooms and faithful gardeners.

69 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers – In Memoriam – Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

  1. I see the flowers as children well-tended by their parents, the gardeners. “Rest in peace, beautiful blooms and faithful gardeners” So I see the path the path of the gardeners as long and arduous – no peace in the foreseen future. You really pulled at the heartstrings. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Alicia
      Thank you for reading and reflecting on the story. I can see why you would interpret the gardeners as being the children’s parents – parents play the primary role in raising children, after all – but in this context I actually intended the faithful gardeners to be the teachers. As well as fourteen students, three staff at the school lost their lives. I pray that they, as well as the students, will rest in peace.
      With best wishes

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think a lot of people are in that same place this week, going back to this tragedy whether they want to or not. Sometimes a story demands to be written. Your take on it feels very compassionate, and the link you make to the flowers and the photo works well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Bjorn
      You’re right that the reality is worse. It doesn’t bear thinking about. And yet families, friends and first responders all have to somehow live with their memories.
      All we can do from afar is support campaigns to control and eventually eliminate gun ownership.
      With very best wishes


  3. A moving and fitting tribute to the teachers and students of all of these high school massacres. When will it end? How will it end I wonder? There is no excuse, it’s true, and yet there is an underlying issue that demands our attention. In stories every villain has a backstory that earns the reader’s compassion although we might not agree with their choices. I feel the same is true of real life villains. You handled the reality of it so well with this piece. Nicely done, Penny!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Fatima
      Thank you for reading, and for your wise and compassionate comments. I really appreciate that you framed the discussion about the underlying issues in terms of backstory, something that I, as a writer, would be likely to relate to. That was very thoughtful of you.
      I agree with you that there are underlying causes. The most obvious is the prevalence of gun ownership in the USA – if you can’t obtain a gun, you can’t easily slaughter others. There are clearly also likely to be mental health issues. I guess if I knew this killer’s backstory I might feel compassion. But I am sure in many cases, the perpetrator arrives at the point of killing having made conscious decisions not to take other solutions, for example by seeking therapy.
      How should society deal with such people? Well, at the least they must ensure they can’t do similar harm ever again. And there are many people whose loss is so great that some form of social retribution seems essential.
      With very best wishes


      • They definitely made conscious choices to kill and retribution must be made. Compassion does not negate retribution or having justice carried out. But could shed a light on contributing factors. That said I don’t have any answers myself. And it is a difficult topic. Thank you for your thoughts, Penny!


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