Friday Fictioneers: Tiger Lily

PHOTO PROMPT Β© Marie Gail Stratford

The flowers were always there on his grave. Every year on Memorial Day, and on his birthday too. Tiger lilies, with great curling petals as ginger as his hair.

New graves are marked by holidays, bearing ribbons, frames, and wreaths. But as the years go by, the holidays go forgotten.

Each year, his grave saw fewer flowers, as those who remembered passed on, each to their own grave. Until the only flowers left were hers. And when she died, the last petal fell, to be caught by the wind. Ginger as the hair that no one remembered.

97 words

I may have watched Coco one too many times.

This has been an edition of Friday Fictioneers, hosted by the talented and generous Rochelle Wis0ff-Fields. This week’s photo courtesy Marie Gail Stratford. To read more stories inspired by the prompt or to submit your own, click here.

Thanks for visiting!


  1. Remembering, of course, is only for the living. A great story

  2. Great story, Karen. There’s a tinge of Coco in this one, I see πŸ˜‰

    1. You know I love my Coco. Thanks πŸ™‚

  3. Aw, I loved Coco too πŸ™‚ Like that film, expertly done with just the right amount of pathos and sentimentality. Well done.

    1. Thanks Iain. I think Coco is my new favorite Pixar film. They do some great story-telling.

  4. Dear Karen,

    I never saw Coco. However I don’t need to have. This piece is simply gorgeous. Nuff said.



    1. Aw, thanks Rochelle!

  5. So much beauty in your words!

    1. Thank you for your very kind words!

  6. So beautifully done, with the detail of the orange lily as ‘ginger as his hair’, whittling down those who remember until even she is gone. So sad for this one couple but also a reflection on all our lives – we’re all gone to the wind in the end. Gorgeous

    1. Thanks for your kind words, it means a lot coming from you! We are indeed just dust in the wind. Someone should write a song about it. πŸ˜‰ Oh no, now that’s going to be in my head all day.

      1. Haha! Yes it sounds grim, but I find it comforting too. We’re made from star dust after all πŸ™‚

  7. I agree with Lynn. Describing his hair as ginger-colored was striking in itself, then the sadness of losing those that remember you. This happens to us all but you really captured it in your story. Kudos, my dear.

    1. Aw thank you so much. It means a lot, coming from you. I’m a big fan of your work.

  8. Love the way there were fewer and fewer flowers until no one remained to remember him. So sad, but wonderfully written.

  9. As long as our words remain, as long as memories hold, as long as someone directly related lives, we have meaning to the current…

    1. Well said! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Scott.

  10. The story is so universal… soon no one will remember those who went before us… I think of my Grandmother who was born in the end of the 90th century… my father is dead and I wasn’t old when she died. One day will come when even her grave will be gone…

    1. Really makes you think! I know exactly what you mean. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

  11. Very very moving. Made me ache a little inside. And there is NOTHING wrong with watching Coco too much πŸ™‚

    1. Laughed out loud! I want to watch it and my kids are rolling their eyes at me.

      1. One of my guy friends cried during that movie, so I tried SO HARD to not cry when I saw it, so I could make fun of him. I made it until the boy and the old lady start singing together. Damn you Pixar!

      2. I know, right? And what No one has ever made it through the mini movie in Up with a dry eye.

  12. Where have all the flowers gone. . . .

    1. Indeed! Thanks for reading.

  13. Dale

    I now have yet another reason to go see Coco!
    And truly a lovely story. I, personally, am not a grave-visitor, and cannot help but feel that it serves no purpose. That said, I know many people feel a sense of peace to go there.

    1. For me, visiting a grave is for the living, not the dead. With my father gone some 37 years, there are very few tangible connections left of him. The cemetery is one. I remember him taking me there, how we walked to the river and saw a fox. That said, I totally want to be planted as a tree…if you know what I mean. Thanks so much for reading, Dale!

      1. Dale

        I very much know what you mean, Karen! I want the same. Or ashes scattered. But then there is no grave. Like my husband.
        But I know one of Mick’s friend is sad that he cannot visit his friend in a particular spot so I do know it is important for some…

  14. If this is what Coco inspires, then I really need to watch that movie. Absolutely beautiful!

    1. πŸ˜€ Thank you for your very kind words! Coco is a phenomenal movie imho. Thanks for reading, Joy.

  15. OK, I need to watch Coco NOW!

    1. πŸ™‚ You should! Thanks for reading.

  16. Beautifully written. The inexorable march of time.

  17. That’s a beautiful story, Karen. You’ve captured something of the Japanese view of life and death; life is fleeting, but as lovely as the cherry blossom.

    1. Oh that’s neat. It’s not my idea though–I sort of stole it from Coco. But it’s also something that was very much in my mind as I sat with my 98-year-old grandmother in hospice a few years ago. In her long life, she’d lost all of her 9 siblings, all three of her children, her husband, and all of her long-time friends. I wondered how many people would go with her when she died? How many people lived only in her memory? Look at me, getting all maudlin.

  18. I haven’t seen Coco. However, your touching story made me think I should visit my grandparents’ grave. I don’t know if I’ve been back since the headstone was updated after my grandmother passed and I don’t want them to be left alone, their graves unkept.
    Best wishes,

    1. Aw, so glad my story touched you. Thanks for reading, Rowena.

  19. A beautifully written story Karen. Loved this line “Each year, his grave saw fewer flowers, as those who remembered passed on, each to their own grave.”

    1. Thanks so much, I’m glad you liked it!

  20. A tender and elegiac story – reflection on our transience in accepting way. Thank you.

    1. So glad you liked it. Thanks for reading and commenting πŸ™‚

  21. Beautifully written, Karen. I used to drive by a cemetery each day on my way to work. It was not uncommon to see a soliarty soul mourning by a fresh grave. As time went on, the visits became less frequent. We are just a vapor that’s here for a little while before melting away.

    1. Well said, Ray. Thanks for your kind words!

  22. Lovely. Quite a poignant little story. Well written.

  23. poignant story. i’d read somewhere that, even though we have died, we continue to live only for as long as somebody remembers us.

  24. Oh my this was so poignant and went straight to my heart. Superbly done

  25. That’s one of the saddest things about the passage of time. Even with the happiest of couples, the survivor must eventually succumb to death too.

    1. Very true. Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

  26. What an amazing story, loved the evocative style. Right up my alley. I felt it was like a 30 second movie of flowers becoming fewer and fewer at his grave, until that last petal fell. Nicely done, K. πŸ™‚

    1. So glad you liked it. Thanks for reading and thanks for your kind words.

  27. Immortality in this world only lasts as long as there are people to remember.

    1. That may be! Thanks for reading, Liz.

  28. Beautiful, very poetic. Puts me in mind of something I just read about being immortal until the last one who remembers you dies.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  29. peterkirsch

    Well, THAT was uplifting. And I didn’t think I could feel any more disconsolate than I was five minutes ago. Thanks for proving me wrong πŸ™‚

    Nonetheless, SO well-written, as usual. Sorry it took me so long to read it. I’m behind. And you’re quite awesome.

    1. Oh boy, you know how when you’re having a really bad writing day, and you wonder why you’re even doing it, because every single word is wrong, and you can’t even remember why you ever thought it was fun?

      When those days happen, it turns out all you need is a friend like you. Don’t know that I’m deserving of that esteem, but you really gave me a lift on what’s been a frustrating day! Thanks so much.

  30. What a wonderful story. Such a sad subject but the ending is uplifting (at least for me πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks so much. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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