She kneels on a red gingham blanket nestled in soft green grass as warm sunlight filters through the canopy of leaves overhead. A gentle breeze tousles her short, dark hair and carries the sweet perfume of wildflowers to her nose.
At a delighted shout, she looks up to see a little girl bounding towards her, hair flying and eyes sparkling. The girl giggles as she daintily places a bouquet of daisies in the woman’s hand. Their yellow centers seem to glow, surrounded by silky petals white as freshly fallen snow.
Smiling, the woman pulls her daughter into her arms and closes her eyes, burying her face in the girl’s soft hair. She squeezes her eyes shut, trying to make the perfect moment last. But something is wrong. Despite the hot afternoon sun, the little girl’s skin is cold and hard as ice. The woman’s eyes snap open.
She kneels on a frozen carpet of leaves as the sun glares overhead. The wind howls as it flings her long, tangled hair into tired eyes. The crooked branches of trees cast jagged shadows over the ground.
Trembling violently, her fingers trace the words engraved in the smooth stone before her. Tears trickle over cheeks creased and worn as though she has aged a decade since the summer. With a pained sob that pierces the silence like a knife, she lets her head fall into her hands.
It is too much, and the darkness is fast approaching.
As her shoulder shake, several daisies, their petals brown and withered, fall from her hand and flutter through the air to settle on the barren ground in front of her daughter’s grave.