continued from previous
Darkness had begun to sweep like a thick veil over John’s desolate neighborhood. It must have been a relief for the mimosa trees that were surrounded by miles and miles of hot, burning concrete slabs on every direction. Even for their African genetic makeup, the brutal heatwave was too much to handle. The pavement was littered with huge quantities of their blossoms at various stages of decomposition. The ones that had fallen most recently looked exactly like those still on the tree: you could pick them up and still smell their awakening, refreshing peach scent. Those that had fallen much earlier in the day still retained their bright pink and white tropical colors, but the flower structure had wilted and shriveled quite dramatically. Over towards the corners, there were masses of blossoms from the previous days that had taken a rusty brown coloration. They had become unrecognizable, wilted, and shriveled into one another, glued together into one, amorphous mass that looked more like a pile of autumn leaves than blossoms. The pile was on its way to merging into the grey, dusty background of the city. Its smell was nothing close to the original flower; it was a much more common, earthy “dead leaf smell” that may have lost the delicate fruitiness of the original blossom scent but was nevertheless still pleasantly comforting. It smelled a bit like wet soil after a summer rain.
Scattered sparsely across a much larger radius were the outliers: isolated blossoms that had fallen much further out from the rest of the pack, presumably carried by the occasional urban breeze that funnels through the CBD. These blossoms had experienced a very different fate: flattened by cars or passing pedestrians, they quickly cooked on the burning hot pavement, becoming imprinted decorations through a biochemical process which any curious artist would probably have been envious to replicate. The heat from the pavement must have cooked the blossoms so fast that they didn’t even have the time to wilt. Their juices had evaporated, leaving behind a black, ghost-like but remarkably detailed silhouette of the original flower.
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George is an author, researcher, podcast host, chemist, molecular biologist and food scientist. You can follow him on Twitter @99blackbaloons , listen to his Spotify podcast George reads George, sign up for blog alerts below, or enjoy his books