The Flowers on Alcatraz

The Flowers on Alcatraz

A Story by C.E.M.
"

The wife of a rockstar writes letters to her late husband from their favorite annual date spot; Alcatraz Island.

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The Flowers on Alcatraz

C.E. Mongon

June 2018

 

 

6.24.10

Jesus, Benny, I’m here. I’m on Alcatraz, it’s June 24th, but you’re not next to me. You’re somewhere else. A different plane entirely, and I’m not even talking about coke or psychedelics, Benny, you’re just gone. Gone, like, for good. And I don’t know what to do besides sit here, and eat the goddamn baguette we were supposed to share, and write this stupid letter, and think of what to name our daughter. 

 I can’t even listen to your songs anymore. They make me sick, especially lately since my stomachs so sensitive and I’m just puking like that b***h from The Exorcist.

 She’s kicking right now. She knows when I think about you, it’s ridiculous. 

 When I sit on our old stone spot, and I look out at the ocean, and the sun makes the water sparkle like it has every June 24th for the past... what... fourteen years? I just can’t help but wonder how nothing can change here, when so much has changed in my own heart, and my own life. 

 You knew I stopped using. As soon as I found out, I f*****g stopped. I tried to get help, I went to my meetings, I collected my dumbass tokens. You promised me you’d do the same. But you broke that promise, and now I’m lost in the world and locked in a prison without love, and our kid doesn’t have a dad. 

 Did you even try?

 I’m so mad at you, I can’t stand it. And now I’m crying. And people are staring. So I have to just shut up and try not to think about you and look at the water that we used to joke we’d own someday. I sit here, and the birds sing to me and I try to understand, and all I come up with is, I just wasn’t enough to keep you here. 

 Is that ridiculous? 

 Did I drive you to do this, Benny? 

 Should I have never told you about her in the first place? 

 You loved our life, I thought, Benny. You loved playing to those crowds, you loved the guitar. You loved wine at two a.m. every night and drunk sex on what we thought was Jim Morrison’s old sofa and the nice car in the shop and the palm trees in the wind and everything about the way I looked at you. I thought palm trees and the look in my eyes was enough to keep you. How f*****g naive was I? 

 When I told you about the baby, you seemed excited. Surprised, like when I pushed you in the pool that night in August, and you dragged me in with you and we just laughed and kissed in the dark water. But you didn’t pull me in with you this time. You just dove to the bottom, and never came back up for air. 

Did it ever occur to you I would’ve gladly drowned with you?

That all you had to do was f*****g ask?

 There are lilies growing here again. Everywhere I look. 

 I miss you more than I thought a human being could bare. 

 

 Love and love and love again, 

       Your Wife Always, Alice 


 6.24.11

 6 pounds, 11 ounces. She came out silent. It scared the living hell out of me and even though the doctor told me she was fine, I just sobbed. I was in so much pain and I wished, more than anything, that you were there to hold my hand. I know that makes me a bad mother. But I don’t give a f**k about that, I knew I was going to be one, and nobody’s going to read these letters anyways.

How bad were you caught up in this s**t, Benny, you beautiful f*****g idiot?

 I found your stash in the studio. And I’ve got to be honest, seeing that much... it took everything I had in me not to tie a nice f*****g knot around my arm and load up. But I didn’t. I swear to you, Benny, I didn’t. Our daughters almost one now, and I still haven’t named her, and your mother is completely up my a*s about it and the government wants me to just pick a place-holder so they can register her citizenship but Benny… you were going to pick her name. You were always the one with the names. The car, the house, the record company you wanted to start one day when the music s**t got tired. You just knew what to call stuff, and it was always so perfect and simple. As soon as you looked into her eyes, I bet you’d know. But all I see in her is you, over and over again, every time she so much as blinks. Her eyes are hazel, like yours, with that brilliant, brilliant green in the middle.

 My heart still aches when I think of you, and there are mornings I wake up and roll over to see your beautiful, skinny, tomcat back in the sunlight, and for some reason, my heart breaks fresh every time I find it empty. It’s been a year now. Should I still feel like this, Benny? This re-tearing of a wound every time I open my eyes? Should I be able to hear your music again, should I be attending spin class and going to wine clubs and hiring nannies like all the other Hollywood moms? Should I be able to leave her side, not just because I don’t want to be apart from my daughter but because I don’t want to be away from what connects me most to you? The last living part of you left to hold?

 Why do I smell you when I hold her? Why do I hear you when she laughs?

  I must be f*****g crazy, asking a dead man question’s like these. This is the only time I write to you, these June days spent on Alcatraz. This damn island… why did you love it so much? It became your most popular song after your death, you know, the one you wrote about us and the lilies and the water and the way grass grew between concrete. And I still don’t understand why.

 What was it about a prison defunct and overgrown that called to you?

 

Love and love and love again,

   Your Wife Always, Alice

 

6.24.12

 She runs around Alcatraz like a fool, the way you did. I think she’s going to grow up, and love the way you loved, too. I haven’t met a man on this earth who’s loved me the way you loved me. Before or after you were in my life. Thinking about that makes my soul happy, but my head and chest and every other part of my body sting because I know, at least on this planet, I will never have that again. But that’s what makes things special. Wholly felt, I guess.

  You know the other day, she climbed out of her crib? All on her own, and dropped to the floor without a damn problem, and she had this and I swear in that moment I could hear you saying, somewhere in the house, in our home... “my girl.” Like you used to call me. 

 She reaches out to nothing sometimes, not towards me or anyone else, just to thin f*****g air. 

I’m convinced it’s you. 

 I’m calling her Jane Doe for now, like those cadavers, a little morbid, a little punk but she has to have a legal name to get a birth certificate, which she needs to get into daycare, because apparently a kid isn’t proof enough that she exists. But I don’t call her that. Not to her face. I think you would’ve liked this. I think our daughter not having a real name would be a running joke between you and I. If I could just talk to you again.

 Sometimes, something will happen in my daily life, like your mother bringing brisket at ten in the morning, or a tourist being chased by our neighbor’s labradoodle, and I’ll laugh because it reminds me of something that happened in those crazy fourteen years. Then I’ll just want to cry. Because nobody would have a damned clue what I was talking about. But I don’t cry. I just hold our little Jane Doe in my arms until you come back to me. Please, keep coming back to me.

 

Love and love and love again,

Your Wife Always, Alice

 

6.24.13

Life keeps unintentionally moving on from you, in the most mundane, useless ways. I have a new therapist, a new address, a new savings account, a new voicemail, a new mailman and a new car seat… but our daughter still doesn’t have a name. And she still doesn’t have a nanny, either, because I refuse not to raise our daughter the way I was raised; by f*****g hand.

 All the uptight Bel Air moms don’t get why I can’t just give the kid a nanny and a name already. They tell me I make things “difficult”. And those uptight plastic b*****s talk about how you died… what you and I used to do… like they’re not stashing a Rite Aid of oxy and ambien and all those other rich white happy pills in their medicine cabinets. But I know you’d understand, Benny, and honest to god nothing else matters to me.

 This year, I’ve thought of killing myself 32 times.

 I know this because that’s how many times my phone says I’ve played “The Flowers on Alcatraz.”

 Benny, I don’t know how to f*****g do this. I feel like without you, our daughter will grow up the product of something incomplete. And as a result, incomplete herself. It shouldn’t be this way, and it shouldn’t feel this way, and I know it. And sometimes, I scream at nothing, for no reason, because I should be with you, but I can’t because I have to be with her. Not “I have to”. I want to. I want to be with our daughter, I want to raise our daughter. Because… what if there isn’t an afterlife? What if I really am writing these letters to no one? What if we don’t get to be together after we die because after we die there’s just… nothing?

 I’d rather live with a part of you than die and be alone, Benny.

 And she is, in essence, a part of you. Half of you exists in her, half your genetic coding, half of that golden hair and that lopsided smile and that beauty mark across your nose you always told the makeup people to darken, rather than hide, so people could see you weren’t born perfect. You can see it in her, plain as sunlight, that playful Benny soul.

I find it difficult to write to or about you when I’m not on our island, on Alcatraz. My agent wants me to write a memoir, and I flat-out refused. How could I get a book done only working on it once a year?

 I miss you.

 I know I must’ve sat alone in bed thinking those same words every night for the past 3 years, but it’s still true. Our daughter has you in her, but she is not you, and she will never be you. It’s not a bad thing, because I love her. We made her.

 It’s just something I live with.

 

Love and love and love again,

Your Wife Always, Alice

 

6.24.14

 Our child has real, thick hair now, hair like her mama’s. Big and wild, just like you dreamed. She knows so many words, and can read, which is more than I could ever say for either us. She has a bookshelf full of books, and that nice 64-set of crayons, and a metal xylophone. But I think, one day, she’s going to want a guitar.

I keep noticing things about the island with her that I never noticed with you. Like, how the air here smells different than on Beverly. It’s so much more of the ocean, and so much less of that “California bullshit”, as you called it. The trees are greener here, too, the grass and the bushes and the leaves have this vibrancy and when she touches one, she always tries to pull it right out of the roots, like she wants to save the color for herself. Remember when you’d pick flowers for me, and every June 24th I’d come home with a dying bouquet? She does the same exact thing.

 I played your song for her today, “The Flowers on Alcatraz”, the one you wrote when we first came here. You know the one. She clapped, and laughed, the whole time, but loudest when you started to sing. You would’ve been proud. Mama didn’t even cry.

 One day, I’m going to really figure it out, Benny. I’m going to know why you collapsed on Elevado, why you had to take that much, that fast, why you went alone, when someone who loved you was just around the corner, on the next f*****g street, not a block away. Why I never get to know if you died walking towards me, or away from me. From her.

Or maybe I won’t.

The flowers are beautiful on Alcatraz. They really are. I wish you were here to see them. But I think it’s alright that you aren’t. Because our daughter, Lily, is with me, down by the water, picking her namesake by the stems, and humming the tune you wrote just for us.

 

Love and love and love again,

 Your Daughters Mother, Your Widow Always,

             Alice.

 


© 2018 C.E.M.


Author's Note

C.E.M.
Let me know what you think, I'm begging you. I have never shown my writing to people before, but it is my deepest passion, and I need to be realistic as to whether or not I can make a living off of it. Constructive criticism from valuable sources is ALWAYS welcome. Roast me if you must. I can take it.

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Featured Review

....................Roast!? You're asking for a roast if necessary!? I can with gusto and firm conviction say that no roasting need be done. This is beyond words! I myself have no talent in creating stories via epistles, but you! - You have a talent. I was blown the f*#& away by this. Honestly, turn this into a freaking novella/novel, for it deserves something grand! I read this, and I even saw a film play out before my eyes. It's visionary, ingenious (I love the line about being in a prison, when the island had been used as a prison - ingenious!). Holy kwap! I'm literally not able to figure out how to end this review, because I am utterly in awe here! The title was even brilliant, and I loved how you tied it into the story. Def turn this into something big. It's too good to be a short story. I don't care how you expand on this, but you are not doing it justice by keeping it this short a story. It's something grand in the making. Honestly, this is sublime! Well freaking done!

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

emipoemi

1 Year Ago

Well, it was my pleasure. You have some genuinely raw talent that should not go to waste. This story.. read more
C.E.M.

1 Year Ago

I would be so glad to send you updates as I extend it!
emipoemi

1 Year Ago

looking forward to them. Good luck.



Reviews

Definitely no roasting required! Brilliant writing. Tight sentences, raw emotion, gritty realism. You know the writing is good when you feel the emotions on the page mirrored and resonating inside you.
Do not stop writing and do not stop showing it to others. You are very talented!
Trudi


Posted 1 Year Ago


very realistic. fine, touching writing from start to finish. could easily turn into a novel or screenplay. great structure, characters and plot. captures and holds interest from start to finish. straight-up good writing.
what else could anyone want? ... :)

Posted 1 Year Ago


C.E.M.

1 Year Ago

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this!
Well, this isn't going to be much of a review, mainly because it's 3 in the morning and I'm dead tired. But I can, without doubt, say that this is one of the best things I have ever read, seconding all the nice people in the comments. F*****g made me feel things.

Posted 1 Year Ago


C.E.M.

1 Year Ago

Wow. That's such a high honor oh my god. Thank you so much for taking time to read and review it mea.. read more
Captivating and draws you in to want to read more- very real and touching- great work🌹

Posted 1 Year Ago


C.E.M.

1 Year Ago

Thank you so much!!!
I feel for Benny and Alice and Lily because you made this story so real, it's beautiful. As someone who knows additction and has collected the stupid coins I was immediately drawn in and excited to continue to see how many connections I could make with Benny and Alice, I found many! I love the intermittent foul language from Alice and how she give two s***s about being classy to when her emotions take over it was more relatable that way and real. The letters style was a nice touch with the dates and signatures. I could feel the love Lily had for Benny and the love Benny had for the high that was obviously worth dying for, then Lily the product of a dad who lived and died like a rockstar and a mother who like so many mother's was stronger and more resilient. I could go on and on about how I imagine these characters are because you did such a good job giving each an identity, but I won't lol. Thank you for sharing!

Posted 1 Year Ago


C.E.M.

1 Year Ago

This review honestly made me tear up a bit I have to tell you... being told from a survivor of addic.. read more
You have a great talent for flow and direction and keeping dialogue, although interior dialogue here, sounding real. So many pieces like this seem stilted because the author does not have a good feel for how people actually talk. So sad, but I can see this happening. The story idea is really creative and the pace is actually perfect. It made me anxious that she hadn't named the baby...that's how you know people can identify with the characters, when they care about the characters. Great connection, I hope you got a lot of positive feedback on this one. Loved it.

Posted 1 Year Ago


C.E.M.

1 Year Ago

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this! I wasn't sure about Alice at first. I wasn't sur.. read more
Very readable, was drawn in from the first few lines. I like the way that the wife has recorded her thoughts in a series of letters to her dead husband, discussing the progress of her pregnancy and birth of their daughter. The emotional turmoil of why he died, comes through to the reader. You did well here.

Chris

Posted 1 Year Ago


C.E.M.

1 Year Ago

Thank you so much! I appreciate that you took the time to read and review :)
This story is a love letter from a heart broken young woman, who is pregnant , to her dead lover. Start to finish she squeezes readers heart with her lamentation over his overdose, and asks the same questions we all ask over sudden and tragic loss. Your story catches readers' and takes them with her through her pregnancy and mother hood and her silent letters pouring over from her broken heart with the details of the baby.

Posted 1 Year Ago


C.E.M.

1 Year Ago

Hit the nail on the head! Thank you for taking the time to read :)
Mrudula Rani

1 Year Ago

Your perfect writing, even though heart wrenching keeps readers glued to the screen till the end.
To write, this is BRILLIANT start to finish just doesn't say enough. I read through ever word start to finish, twice.. wiping my eyes a quarter way through then .. at the end. Your words hit the mind, the heart, the aftermath that should just gently fade. But your story won't fade, it can't. Without not meaning to cheapen it, it needs to be seen.. perhaps.. of is it the words that make it so powerful, yet, so fragile.

Without doubt this is one of the most wonderful reads i've found in ten years in the CAfe,

You talk with love, you recall its rawness; you somehow deny self and give to.. .. the form, as letters should lure a happy ending.. It's not good, am muddling my own thinking when i just want to read your magic tragedy again.

Posted 1 Year Ago


C.E.M.

1 Year Ago

Emma! Thank you so much oh my goodness! What a high honor, wow. I do think I genuinely love Alice, a.. read more
emmajoy

1 Year Ago

What you say is so very true, life can slam doors in love's face; and however stoical one wants or .. read more
The first thing I can say is that this piece really drew me in from the beginning and it had fantastic imagery. It was easy to see and feel who Benny and it managed to garner sympathy for the fact that he died as well as bring up whether or not he deserved to be in his daughter's life without outright saying it.
The fact that she took as long as she did to name her was striking as well, especially with her reason for it being that he was the one that usually named things. In a way, he did name her by the end.

If there's anything I would possibly say may change, it might be that you might want timestamps. If you want to keep the fact that these are letters off the first, then perhaps use them after it from the second onward, much like a letterhead so it becomes easier to keep track of the daughter's age. Though perhaps this method is a bit heavy-handed.
Otherwise, it's a great story, and the fact that it has its emphasis of this particular place works well for it.

Posted 1 Year Ago


C.E.M.

1 Year Ago

Hi! Funny thing, about the time stamps, I was thinking that exact same thing and, in revisions (alon.. read more

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Added on June 11, 2018
Last Updated on June 14, 2018
Tags: death, child, birth, growing up, short story, coming of age, sad, prison, island, date, rockstar, famous, mother, motherhood, sad story, new

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C.E.M.
C.E.M.

FL



About
I'm a dreamer. I'm a woman. I'm an animal. You can call me Cait. I have written stories since I could pick up a pen. My dream, above all else, is to see this world. In order to do that, I've deci.. more..

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