Ada's morning routine begins like this:
First, she slides her feet into her walking shoes, seeks the precise indentation worn by her big toe, and settles the remaining toes into their assigned slots. She tugs the laces into symmetrical loops.
Next, she follows the line of the sidewalk past her neighbor's house, turning her face away from Minnie McCann's overgrown trumpet vine. Ada looks left-right-left before venturing into the crosswalk at Boxwood Street.
Finally, she enters the community park and settles on her bench overlooking the central flower bed, with its color-coordinated blossoms and sharply delineated borders.
Everyone in the neighborhood knows Ada's routine, and no one interferes. Until today.
Today, a stranger has entered the garden.
Ada does not recognize this strange woman standing smack in the middle of the dahlias with an obscenely large set of garden shears. Snip. A scarlet blossom tumbles to the ground. It clashes with the woman's pink and orange zigzag-striped Wellingtons.
"Stop that!" Ada says. "You're not allowed to cut these flowers."
"Rules don't apply to me."
Ada's arm hairs stand on end at the sing-song hint of mayhem.
The woman looks Ada dead in the eye and grins as she attacks the front row of zinnias. Snip snip snip. Gathering the pilfered blooms, she considers their arrangement, and then flicks two perfectly formed flowers into the mulch.
"You're wasting them," Ada huffs.
The woman steps on a discarded dahlia, then halts two steps from Ada.
"I left one for you." She places the shears on the bench.
The flower bed is now a wasteland of jutting naked stems—except for a single pristine specimen quivering on its stalk. Ada's heart races.
's work has been selected for Best Small Fictions, Fractured Lit, X-R-A-Y Lit Mag
and The Citron Review
, among others. She has won the Lascaux Prize in Creative Nonfiction and the New Millennium Award in Flash Fiction. In addition to her website (linked), read more at @MynaChang