Thursday 7 July 2011

The Dark Place

Welcome to the Xeroversary! From Sun 3rd July to Sat 9th July we celebrated 1 year of the Xeroverse with guest flash fiction posted every day. Join the festivities, enjoy the fiction, say hi. =)

The Xeroversary is over, all that remains is the afterparty... (with full guest list)


The Dark Place

by Magaly Guerrero

“People said the house was haunted.” Weeping Willow whipped his branches wildly and continued telling the story. “But The Child knew better.”

“A child is a human sprout!” shouted Violet.

“It is,” Weeping Willow chuckled. “And this particular child was smarter than many—she could see the things that were there. One morning she told The Mother.”

“Mommy,” she said while they sat at the eating place. “The daisy in my bedroom doesn’t like you cutting her flowers.”

“Oh darling,” The Mother smiled at her little girl. “Would you ask the daisy why?”

“Sure Mommy.”

The next morning, The Child walked into the eating place. “Mommy, what’s a human animal’s genitals?”

“What!” The Mother squeezed The Child by her upper limbs and asked again. “What did you say?

“My daisy,” the child whimpered. “She said cutting her flowers was like chopping off a human animal’s genitals.”

“This freaking house is haunted man.” The Mother’s male sibling nodded repeatedly as he stuffed nutrients into his eating hole.

“Shut up!” The Mother shouted at him. “People around here are crazy!” She turned away from her sibling, inhaled some oxygen, and caressed her child’s reddened epidermis. “Sorry I scared you, baby. Did a stranger teach you that grownup word?”

“What’s a baby?” Violet’s leaves looked a bit droopy. She was the youngest flower in the meadow, but she disliked other plants thinking she didn’t know as much as the tallest tree.

“It’s a seedling, Violet!” Daisy twisted. “And stop asking silly questions!”

Daisy seemed withered and that worried old Weeping Willow. Daisy had always been the freshest of all flowers. “That wasn’t very nice Daisy,” he said. “You were once an inquisitive seedling yourself.” The flower didn’t perk up, so Weeping Willow reconsidered. “Human animal myths can be frightening, should I stop the storytelling?”

“No!” Begged every weed, flower, and even some old oaks.

But Weeping Willow wanted Daisy’s response. “Well?”

“I’m sorry,” Daisy smoothed her petals. “Please go on.”

“Alright then.” Weeping Willow wiggled his roots and went on. “The Child answered The Mother’s question,” he said.

“My daisy is no stranger, Mommy. She talks to me while I sleep.”

“That’s so freaky!” The sibling’s eyes widened. “Ghosts for sure man.”

“Get out!” The Mother shook a limb at her sibling. “And don’t come back until you grow up!” She waited for her unrooted sibling to leave the eating place. Then she said, “Darling, flowers don’t think, feel, or talk. Let me show you something.” She grabbed the potted daisy she kept at the center of the eating place. “I’ll ask this flower to change its petals from white to red. If it changes color, I’ll never cut it again.” The Mother hesitated for a second or two, but decided it would be best to nip the problem once and for all. If the petals don’t change, you and I will take the plant outside and burn it, okay?”

The Child just swayed in silence.

“Plant, make your white petals red!” The daisy remained white, so The Mother yelled louder. “Make your petals red, right now!” The daisy remained as white as nature had made her. “See baby?” The Mother grabbed the flower pot. “It didn’t do anything, so we’ll take it outside as we agreed.”

“But, but,” The Child’s eyes were shiny with sadness dew. “You say people don’t do things for nothing. Maybe you should give a thing to the daisy or make her a promise.”

It! Not her! Daisies aren’t people for god’s sake.” The Mother ran the tips of one limb through her canopy, and blew carbon dioxide and oxygen on The Child’s face. “Fine, I’ll give… I’ll promise something, but if it doesn’t do it—”

“You’ll take it outside,” The Child mumbled. “I know.”

The Mother placed the daisy on the ground and stared at it. “Daisy, if you change your petals from white to red, I’ll…” The Mother looked around the eating place and finally saw a meat pounder. “If you turn red I’ll beat my face with the meat pounder until I’m as red as your new petals.”

The Mother and The Child watched the daisy for a long time; nothing happened.

“You see baby?” The Mother squatted to match The Child’s height. “I asked. I made a promise too. The daisy didn’t change colors.” The Mother saw sadness dew seeping down The Child’s face. “I know this is hard, but we need to keep our promises. If we don’t, we go to the dark place. I’m doing this because I love you baby.”

The Mother straightened to her full height, yanked the daisy out of the pot, took it outside, and burned her to ashes while The Child wailed.

“The end,” said Weeping Willow, extremely pleased with himself. Human horror stories were always a hit; every young flower, and many old trees, had shriveled with fright. “Alright,” he added. “Settle down and let Moon’s light guide you into dreamland.”

Daisy couldn’t settle down. The idea of burning until she was no more than a pile of ashes was terrifying. She closed her petals and prayed. Please Moon, make me red. I don’t want to be chopped and burned; make me red.

The Mother was resting the morning The Child walked into her sleeping place, holding her overnight crimsoned daisy. The Child was stumbling; her hands were too small and the flower pot was heavy. She put the daisy on the ground, and wiped her face with her free hand. She climbed on The Mother’s sleeping spot.

The Mother opened her eyes. “You’re up early, my—”

The Child had been holding the hammer over her head. She shrieked when the first blow cracked The Mother’s temple. The Child pounded, pounded, pounded… When The Mother’s face was a white, pink and dark red meaty mess, which The Child thought looked nothing like a daisy, she dropped the meat mallet. “I love you Mommy.” The Child sobbed. “I keep you out of the dark place.”


Magaly Guerrero is a writer who embraces the darker side of fiction. She is the author of Pagan Culture, a blog about everyday life through the eyes of a dark fiction writer.

Xero says: Magaly was very supportive and welcoming when I first joined the #fridayflash community, and even reposted some of my early 101s on her blog. She has a great generosity of spirit and an amazing touch for weaving natural-feeling magic into her fiction.


  1. Mm, "natural feeling into [my] fiction" I might have to quote you one that one day ;-)

    Thanks so much for the invite!

  2. No worries, it's a pleasure to have you here. =D

  3. Very, very, nice. There is so much to this piece. On the surface you've captured a fresh perpective that feels divine. The way they talk about us seems right. Underneath the misunderstanding of species and the expectations of things that can't be done is an amazing interplay.

  4. I've only wondered what plants would say if (or when) the talk about us. Then I think about some thing things we do to them and my imagination tells me that it might not be great...

  5. Well, crap this is spooky... woo, you guys... wow... we did this experiment in biology at high school, really sweet to one lot of seedlings, praised them, the others we were just to ignore, said a dismissive nasty thing or two, but gave them both the same amount of sunlight & water... in almost every case the 'favoured' flourished & neglected withered...