Jennifer Burgraff, Heliotrope

She was so small… so very small. If I cupped my hands, and opened them like angel wings, she would fit there, her small head held aloft by the tips of my fingers, her small bottom resting on my palm, and those tiny legs crossed upon my wrist.

They let me hold her for as long as I wanted and then wrapped her up again in the small blanket and then in the blue paper cloth that they tape and put a label on. Then my small darling, my little Heliotrope, for that is what I named her, goes to wait in the refrigerator for the man in the suit from the mortuary. My sister did not think that Heliotrope was a very good name for my little girl, but what does she know. It’s not as if anyone will ever tease her in the first grade, or ask a thousand times how to spell it when she’s talking on the phone. She’ll never have to explain that Heliotrope is a small purple flower, one that looks lovely in gardens and bridal bouquets. It’s a perfectly fine name.

When they discharge me after two days, longer than it takes my body to heal, they give me a small heart-shaped box with a plaster cast of her two small feet. After they wheel me to the front and say goodbye with their sorrow filled eyes, I walk to the closest corner and toss it in the garbage. I don’t need their tacky souvenir to remember my small flower.