Mourning Doves, flash fiction by Liz deBeer at

Mourning Doves

Mourning Doves

written by: Liz deBeer



Tilting massive golden manes toward the sun’s intoxicating warmth, the sunflowers’ thick green stems tremble with their crowns’ weight. At nearly ten feet, these amber giants embody their nickname: Skyscraper.

Reigning above faded flowers with their brilliant flames, the Skyscraper sunflowers sway together, basking in their own glory. The sun’s glow braids into their petals, their seeds, their souls, extending the radiance far beyond their plot of land as rustling leaves applaud the floral extravaganza.

A whistling sound —like a kazoo’s hum —interrupts the beauty pageant. Shadows block the sunbeams as mourning doves land on the Helianthus contestants, emitting low “Coo-ahh. Coo, coo, coooos.” Then the doves gorge, peck, peck, pecking the seeds’ fibonacci spirals, pausing only to “Coo, coo, coooo.”

The flock feasts its full, then departs with the same whistling wings it arrived, leaving only splatters of poop behind. The flowers hang their heads, shaved of their pride like shorn sheep. Still, they accept the excrement as payment and reach their roots out to the fresh fertilizer. Shaking in the wind, the remaining seeds drop, beginning a new generation.

The doves fly on, sprinkling blackish-white scat as they scatter across the land. Hidden in their waste, sunflower seeds wrapped in nitrogen commence their cycle. Fecal matter falls, and more seeds join the earth.

And begin to grow. And grow. Taller and taller, spectacular heights of twelve, thirteen, fourteen feet. Towering above the humans who stand beneath the giants in wonder and worry.

Some humans fearfully kick and stab the stalks which refuse to fold. Others aim AR15s at the seven-foot golden heads, but the bullets bounce off. In response, the flowers expand into halos, blocking the sun from the humans, who hide in their homes. Thunder and lightning explode, showering the land, the flowers, and the seeds while the people cower, covering their ears to block out the noise.

Low whistles and cooing encourage the sunflowers to flourish while the humans seek solutions on cell phones. Many humans hide inside, afraid of touching excrement, or hearing whistles, or shivering in the sunflowers’ shade, or feeling a splash from dark clouds. Doctors diagnose them with biophobia and submit articles for peer review.

A few people, though, emerge from their dwellings. The doves take pity and shit on them, planting seeds on these men, women and children. Rubbing the foul glop into their skin, these wise ones accept the offerings and search for openings among nature’s abundance. They rediscover the sun’s embrace and begin their own transformation, inspired by the gifts above.

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