A Pocket Full of Posies
By Shawn Sarles
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Who will be the last to fall? In this terrifying spin on the old rhyme, a family moves to a seemingly perfect town only to discover that it is anything but normal.
Parker doesn't want to leave her home — the house she's lived in her whole life — but her dad finally, finally got a job and that means they can move somewhere safe, without the fear of break-ins. The town of Coronation is gated community, something that will finally put her mom at ease. As soon as Parker gets there, it puts her at ease too.... at least at first. Everyone is nice. The tennis team immediately accepts her. The teachers are all really cool. Even the boys are easy to talk to...and boys have never been easy to talk to for her. Everything about the community is welcoming, inclusive.
But one day during lunch, the loudspeaker crackles and a voice beckons them all to the courtyard. It's time for the school's monthly tradition: a mass game of Ring Around the Rosie. But that's ridiculous. It's a children's rhyme. And Parker knows the truth behind the fatalism of the old game is a brutal one—a symbolic ritual around of the Black Plague.
Still, the crowd joins hands, chanting and singing the rhyme in unison. The girl left standing is crowned and celebrated as the Rose Duchess. But the next day, she's gone. Why is no one else concerned that the girl has disappeared? Why is the image of a strangled rose being tagged on the school walls? What is the intoxicated scent that continues to engulf her and cloud her thoughts?
As the dark roots of the town begin to rise to the surface, Parker is left to wonder: Where have these sacrifices gone and who are they for? There is only so much time. Because when Parker is the last to fall, the only thing she can do is run...