Introduction

I live in the heart of Bloomsbury which is home to many squares and monuments. During this last lockdown, the cherry blossom tree in the far right corner of Tavistock Square burst into bloom and covered the park bench in soft, pink petals, while blackbirds trilled away on the boughs. Gandhi sits in the middle of the square, presiding over empty benches, squirrels, cat sized rats, and rough sleepers camping under over-grown bushes. Around its pedestal, are the remains of burnt candles, dying bouquets and prayers scrawled on scraps and once even a plastic yellow daisy was looped over Gandhi’s left ear. Whether this accessory on the contemplative sculpture made it appear comical or poignant, I’m not sure, but it did make me wonder about the symbolism we attach to both sculptures and flowers, and the contrast between the two – the lasting, sometimes controversial legacy and solid structure of one, and the fleeting, almost instantly decaying quality of the other. Inspired by my daily walks, I set out to look for literary monuments and flowers in short stories, and how they are offered either as symbols or to trigger epiphanies. 

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