I stopped to smell the flower at the roadside. Its petals dripped red upon the ashen-grey ground. My back strained beneath my book-filled backpack. Them I dared not leave behind. I followed the painted flowers to a ramshackle building. There I found the artist on his knees, crying silent tears. “The paint’s finished,” he sobbed. I sat down, took out a book, and started reading. He watched as the words traced colours in the frigid air.
(Originally published on Paragraph Planet on 1 August 2018.)