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 each and 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 committed suicide most recently looked exactly like the ones on the tree: you could pick them up from the ground 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. And over towards the corners, there were masses and masses of blossoms from the previous days that had taken a rusty brown coloration. They had become almost unrecognizable, wilted into each other and glued together into one, amorphous object 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 and grassy “dead leaf smell” that may not have had the delicate fruitiness of the blossoms but was pleasantly comforting. It almost smelled like wet soil, after a summer rain.
Scattered sparsely across a much larger radius there were some outliers: isolated blossoms that had fallen much further than the rest of the pack, presumably carried away by the occasional wind that funnels through the CBD. These blossoms had experienced a very different fate to the others. Flattened by cars or passing pedestrians, then quickly cooked by the burning hot pavement, they had become imprinted decorations through a chemical process that an artist somewhere would surely have been interested in replicating at some point. The heat from the pavement must have cooked them 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.
from the upcoming novel A New Earth
to read from the beginning, go here
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