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  • Marías at Sampaguitas

Flash Fiction by Emily Deibler

Birthday Flowers

For Mom


“Do angels have a birthday?” Naamah asks while braiding her thick sable hair in bed.


Satan pauses, frowning. He thinks of many things, but he’s never thought of this. He was born before the universe, the first being of stardust. Humans have birthdays. Lilith—did they keep track of the days back then? Lilith was made by God, sometime after the sixth day of Creation. What day? Ages and dates all blend together when you live forever.


“No,” he replies.


Later that day, in the study, he finds Judas reading a book as he sits cross-legged in a plush red chair. He is wearing a thick gray jacket over his robes.


Sitting in one of the other chairs, Satan asks, “When is your birthday?”


Judas raises a brow. “Why?”


“Simply curious.”


Setting down his book, a morbid English play, Judas clasps his hands together and says, “I don’t remember. I was captured by the Romans young, and they didn’t care to give me a date. Some time in the spring, I think. Celebrations about being alive aren’t exactly something I’ve been interested in.”


“I don’t see why humans celebrate their births,” Satan replies, leaning forward. “How special is an occasion that happens to everyone?”


His partner pauses, and Satan wonders if he’s said something offensive. He can never tell what to do when Judas withdraws into himself.


“I suppose I’ve never understood it either,” Judas says.


“What do you do during a birthday?”


“You give someone a gift.” Judas has a look of distaste. “I’ve never really liked gifts.”


“Why?”


“Obligation.”


“And what if you were told you had no obligation?”


“We’d have to see.”


The next day, or however days go in the Ninth Circle of Hell, Judas returns from another eventful poker game he had with Brutus and Cassius, who spent every minute arguing. He goes to his bed in his modest room and touches the dark whorls in the nightstand, and he notices something.


Wilted orange and yellow flowers. He picks them up, the five of them, and inspects the petals. Imagines what they must’ve been like when they were in full bloom.


He finds Satan in his own bedroom, which is much vaster; Judas had refused a more luxurious room.


“What are these?” Judas asks, extending the flowers, then lowering his hand, self-conscious.


Satan’s expression is impassive, his purple suit a sharp contrast to the golds and reds of the bedroom. “I know it’s not much, but it was the most colorful thing I could find. That’s not bleeding or on fire.”


“Where did you get them?”


“In Limbo. Cain was growing them. Apparently nothing grows well in Hell."


"I don’t know why you’d do this for me, but . . . “Thank you.”


Judas swears something like content flashes in Satan’s eyes. “You’re welcome, and you’re under no obligation to return the favor.”


“We never figured out when your birthday is.”


Satan crosses the distance between them. “Indeed. I’m not certain time was even kept them.”


“I suppose if you’re made of infinity, every day is your birthday.” Judas looks down. “That sounded more logical in my head.”


To Judas’ surprise, Satan cups his cheeks, the flowers between them.




A native of North Georgia, Emily Deibler is a published poet and author. Her short story “Deer in December” was published in TL;DR Press’ Halloween 2018 Horror collection, NOPE. She has also published her poems “Turkey Hunting,” “Patty,” “Samantha,” and “Daughters of the Sun.” Her debut novel, Dove Keeper, came out in October 2018. She can be found on Twitter at @emilydeibler. She is a regular contributor to Marías at Sampaguitas.

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