Dream Quest One Third Writing Prize
Winner - SUMMER 2015
BEVERLY J. JUSTICE
of Cambridge, Ohio - USA
THE SCENT OF GARDENIAS
A gorgeous day for Mother’s Day, fifteen-year-old Madison thought, sniffing the carnations in her hand. They
were pink carnations, her mother’s favorite. At least that is what her father had said.
age of four, Madison did not understand the word, “aneurysm” and felt puzzled when a sobbing aunt hugged her
until it hurt, proclaiming, “Oh, you poor little thing!” When the adults around her spoke that her mother was
with Jesus, her young mind excitedly anticipated hearing about the visit when her mother returned home.
memories of her mother were disappointingly few. She often stared at photographs of the two of them together, then closed
her eyes in deep concentration. She attempted to resurrect the memories hiding somewhere deep within her brain, willing
them to spew forth. In spite of her best efforts, none were recovered: no Christmas mornings with Mama in her robe opening
gifts; no baking cookies together to surprise Daddy; no birthday parties with balloon animals and home-made cake.
The one memory Madison recalled with no effort was the scent of gardenias. Her mother’s soft skin, hair and
even her clothing carried the sweet, comforting aroma that Madison still could smell at times while drifting toward sleep.
She remembered Blue Bear in vivid detail. He was a small, terry cloth teddy bear that was her constant companion.
His black beaded eyes against the sky-blue face gave him an alert, protective appearance which comforted Madison at bedtime.
No monsters could bother her with Blue Bear on guard!
Every night as Mama tucked her into bed, Madison would ask her to hug Blue Bear “good night.” After the
lights were dimmed, Madison clutched the bear to her and savored the scent from Mama. Many pleasant dreams began with the
aroma of gardenias lingering on Blue Bear.
Madison remembered very little about the funeral. She recalled someone lifting her up to “say good-bye to Mama.”
She saw Mama sleeping in a very fancy narrow bed, her hands folded upon her chest. She must be uncomfortable in there, Madison
thought. I’ll give her Blue Bear to help her sleep. She tucked the small bear into the crook of her mother’s
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As months, then years wore on, Madison regretted parting with Blue Bear. Many nights she cried herself to sleep,
wanting desperately to hold Blue Bear and smell the comforting gardenias that were the last connection to her mother.
Madison wiped a tear from her cheek and walked toward the newer section of the cemetery. Approaching her mother’s
grave, she dropped the carnations and gasped in shock. Perched upon the headstone, looking just as she had last seen him,
was Blue Bear. With tears streaming down her face, Madison dropped to her knees. As her trembling hand inched toward Blue
Bear, the scent of gardenias filled the air.
# # #
the author: Beverly Justice is a graduate of Kent State University and lives in Cambridge, Ohio. She is a member
of a local writing group, The Rainy Day Writers, and her stories have appeared in the local newspaper. Her favorite authors
are Henry David Thoreau and Mitch Albom. She lives with five cats and a Marmoset monkey.