Mother was lazy, so she made her garden out of bags of wildflower seeds from the dollar store. The poppies shot up small and sparse, red and orange in the yellow yard. She said, Press them for me. I’d like to have a book full of pressed poppies. You pressed them in the pages of Mediterranean Cooking, but the color flaked off the petals. Like old crepe, they crumbled. At last you said, It’s impossible. She said, Why? You said, It just is. You gave her the book of Mediterranean Cooking, let her leaf through all your failures. You said, getting emotional, You picked the wrong flowers to grow. You’ve put us in an impossible situation. You both looked longingly into the yard. All the poppies had been picked for pressing. Now there were only, here and there, tufts of forget-me-not in a tumult of foxtail, and the monstrous stalk of a giant sunflower threatening to ascend.

Carmen Lau’s stories have appeared in Wigleaf, The Collagist, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Fairy Tale Review, Gigantic, Prick of the Spindle, and other journals. Her story collection manuscript, The Girl Wakes, won Alternating Current’s Electric Book Award and will be published in 2016. She blogs at carmenslittlefictions.wordpress.com and tweets @artemisathene.