Excerpt from The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Blood of Flowers

A Novel

by Anita Amirrezvani

The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani X
The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2007, 384 pages

    May 2008, 400 pages


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    At the sight of her in the doorway, her parents howled as if she were an evil jinn. At first the girl refused to let them touch her. Her father grabbed her flailing arms and held them down so her mother could treat her wounds. To their horror, they discovered a fat black thorn lodged in her index finger as firmly as a nail. When her mother pulled it out, it left a hole that bled like a fountain.

    With a great roar of rage, her father rushed out of the house. Within moments came the sound of an ax as it struck the bush, cracking it at its core. With each blow, Golnar shuddered and tore at her own hair in the fury of her grief. Her mother put her to bed, where she stayed for several days, burning with fever and crying out in delirium.

    At her parents’ insistence, she was married two weeks later to the boy who looked like a goat. The two lived together in a room in his parents’ house, and the boy came home every afternoon stinking of the blood and rot of the tannery. When he reached for Golnar, she turned her face away from him, shuddering at his touch. Before long, she became pregnant and bore him a son, followed by two daughters. Every day, she arose in darkness, dressed herself in old garments, and clothed her children in hand-me-downs even more ragged than her own. She never had time to grow her own flowers again. But sometimes, when she passed the walled garden where she used to tend her rosebush, she would close her eyes and remember the smell of its blossoms, sweeter than hope.

When my mother stopped speaking, I rolled this way and that to free my legs and back from the prickling straw, but I couldn’t get comfortable. I felt as distressed as if a buzzing bee had gotten stuck in my ear.

My mother took my face in her hands. “What is it, daughter of mine?” she asked. “Are you ill? Are you suffering?”

An unhappy sound escaped my lips, and I pretended I was trying to sleep.

My mother said, as though thinking aloud, “I’m not sure why I told you that story. It poured out of me before I remembered what it was about.”

I knew the tale, for my mother had told it once or twice in our village. Back then, it hadn’t troubled me. I had been anticipating a life with a husband who paved my path with rose petals, not with a boy who smelled of rotting cowhides. I had never thought that my fate might be like Golnar’s, but now, in the darkness of a strange room in a strange city, the story sounded like a prophecy. My father could no longer protect us, and no one else was duty-bound to do so. My mother was too old for anyone to want her, and now that we had no money for a dowry, no one would want me. With the first pass of the comet, all my prospects had been ruined.

My eyes flew open; in the wan streaks of light creeping into our chamber, I saw my mother studying me. She looked frightened, which made me feel sadder for her than for myself. I took a sharp breath and forced calm into my face.

“I felt ill for a moment, but now I’m better,” I said.

The relief in my mother’s eyes was so great that I thanked God for giving me the strength to say what I did.

Copyright © 2007 by Anita Amirrezvani

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