lilies of the
In a three-piece suit and hat, Florentin did not attract attention on the morning street, even with flowers at his cuffs and in lieu of a tie. He didn't even carry a pistol beneath his cloak, because the only people acting like highwaymen in the city were his Cohorts, and the Cohorts were led by the Scareman. And the Scareman only came out at night. Outside of the city, the common man envied, but through this crystal city Vanity and sunlight walked, reflecting off of the floor-to-ceiling windows. A city street felt like a four mile interrogation room. The following shadows, the echoing footsteps. The furtive eyes that were his own peered from every window like his conversation with Ven last night. She'd said:
"Something on the news this evening. I think it was about you." She was finishing her nightly dahlia.
From the bathroom, he asked, "Yeah?"
"Something about masked men attacking people on the streets." She dipped the dahlia into her drink and said, "The police have been put onto it now."
There was silence from the other room and she called out, "Are you listening to me?"
Then he laughed and said, "When I am no longer the reflection or the reflected, they won't see me." Florentin trotted down the stairs and was out for the fifth night in a row, leaving Ven with a mouthful of petals and questions. Before going to bed, she set a pot of petunias on the front steps, below the doorbell.
Now, but if only then, he feared her words. Police! Heat! Fuzz! Pigs that could sniff out buried fungus! Amongst transparent walls, neighbors are family and informers may be neighbors. Vanity Florentin slumped against the doorway of one such building and saw in. Glass people living in glass houses, like china dolls in display hutches. He saw through to the heart of their home, a central atrium rising up like a pillar of sun through the five stories of the townhouse, open to rain and air, letting both upon the private orchard at the bottom of the well.
They had their party in that atrium, four adults and their kids. With the consumption of so much post-adolescent anthemon, the children were almost caught up to their parents, but Vanity could tell the younger ones by the way they moved–-they danced under the trees like druids, they shook the trunks until sheaves of apple blossoms scattered off the boughs. Whenever this happened, the whole company would stand still with their tongues stuck out as if catching snowflakes.
The Flower, four days older than The Man, knew exponentially more, and only under the extreme duress of molars did it give up its secrets–-a great tide of cellular-regenerative, herbal medicinal, time restorative awash upon the mortal. One girl ate more than the others, in fact seemed encouraged to. As the apple trees slowly emptied, she forgot her ability to walk, first toddling, then falling to hands and knees after she succumbed to the childish habit of putting everything in her mouth. The others, now twice her size, played games centered on her, because it was her birthday.
Florentin watched them, unseen. The people inside were too busy worshiping each other.
Out away from the buildings, away from the little wind-up people living their clockwise lives, to the cogs and springs that drove them, the methodical swinging of sickles as harvesters waded through fields of violets. Florentin hung on the fence and admired the way the city kept the Reaper at bay by putting flowers to the scythe. So efficient! Like Victorian techwork! Every bud beheaded was another Zeno's step away from the grave. Humans still died, but at least they were sporting about it.