Forget Ophelia

Forget Ophelia via Flash PromptWe all know that rosemary is for remembrance. Ophelia made that bit of flower-lore beyond famous. Easy to do, what with the dramatic exit she made. Drowning? Really?

Okay, okay, there’s never been firm agreement on whether her death was murder or suicide or just an unhappy accident, but still, who doesn’t hear the name Hamlet and immediately think of Yorick’s skull or that poor, waterlogged crazy girl?

I, on the other hand, died in the prettiest way possible. No, not alcohol. Not pills either.

Consumption.

Oh, you call it tuberculosis these days, but when I was living, it was consumption.

Sure, consumption had some nasty symptoms. You become weak, and your body wastes away until your bones show and your eyes look sunken. And there’s a horrible, hacking cough.

But at the same time?

There’s a rosy glow to your pale cheeks, and while your skin becomes nearly translucent, it remains warm. Hot even. And your lips? Your lips end up being vampire-red up to the very end.

Or at least that’s how it was for me.

It took a while, that whole ‘dying gracefully’ thing. I had three different suitors bringing me flowers and sweets, things to keep me interested – to keep me alive.

But in the end, I never got beyond the occasional chaste kiss with the one boy I really loved.

So, Ophelia can keep her weeds and herbs.

The flower in my hands when I was buried – the flower I carry now to touch the foreheads of innocent lovers in their dreams, and wish them well – it’s the white carnation, the flower that symbolizes purity.


Notes: Special thanks to my friend Debra Smouse for the second layer of inspiration for this piece.

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 Forget Ophelia by Melissa Bartell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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