Posted on: March 27, 2014
She wakes to a text message, all the better because she’s expecting it.
Today is your birthday. Look outside.
She rushes to the porch in search of daisies. They are her favorite and he promised them to her on this, her day.
Instead of flowers, there are leaves. Her heart sinks and her smile follows.
“Cry me a river, Justin Timberlake,” spouts William The Terrible.
“Shut up, William,” she sighs.
She is too distracted to deal with her younger brother and his smug smile. He doesn’t know what it means to dream of promises kept, and she doesn’t have time to deal with his shit.
“Where’s your flowers?” he asks. “From your boyfriend? You told, like, everyone you were getting flowers.”
“I don’t know, William!” she shouts and goes back inside. There she’ll find her mother and she needs her mother at this moment. There is that feeling spreading through her body and she can’t shake it. Its unique, and vicious, and it’s heavy like honey but without the sweetness.
“Mom! Mom, where are you? Seriously! Mom! Where are…”
“What, darling?” asks Mom.
And this is when it happens. Conductor, tap your little stick once or twice for pitch or attention. Raise those hands. One, two, three…let the waterworks begin. Call it the “Symphony of Sadness.”
The stuttering shrieks mix with the breathless heaving until Mom holds her tight and echoes “sweetie” over and over. She wipes the tears away with her thumb. A gentle stroke of the head, and “Breathe, honey.”
Mom pries away from her, cradles her head between palms like a sobbing treasure; a golden head, an icon of love that dates back further than we know. Mom’s movements are careful and crafted. Mothers and daughters are a house of mirrors; if you look at just the right angle, you can see where you came from and where you’re going.
After the storm, there is relative calm. She’s rubbed her eyes red, and she gulps air like she’s trying to finish off the glass. Mom wants her to say, “You’re the only friend I’ll need,” but instead she says, “I don’t understand…”
Now that she’s calm, it’s time to ask.
“What’s the matter?” As if there is a sufficient answer out there for any of us.
“Flowers,” she says. “Daisies. My favorite…”
Hiccups punctuate her speech like commas, and if she were a grammar mark she’d be an ellipses. Such is her expression.
“…And then…hiccup…well…hiccup...I just…hiccup.”
Mom strokes her head and pulls her tight again and finally the story comes out, leaking like a winter pipe.
“He said he would get me flowers. Daisies. He said it was my birthday. He said it meant something.”
“Boys say lots of things”.
It’s then that Mom remembers the letter, and the familiar light bulb glows bright.
She asks about it, obviously. First it starts slow. Mail? And then she is hysterical with anticipation. A letter? What?!?!
She sprints to the kitchen, to the counter, to the pile of bills. She flips them away like playing cards; go fish American Express, nothing here for you. And then it lights up like something alien in the deep blue sea. To her? Glorious.
She holds a cream-colored envelope that bears her name. This is what it says:
I know you wanted daisies because you said so. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, on the porch you’ll find no daisies. You will, however, find something better. Calm down, wipe your eyes, and let me explain.
I don’t know if you remember (I’m sure you do), but we went to yoga once. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, we went to yoga. Obviously, these sorts of things never really work out for me like they do for you. I suppose I drink too much for yoga, or perhaps I lack the humility. Regardless, inspiration was in that hot, sweaty room that mid-morning, and so for your birthday I want to tell you what I’ve learned. I want you to be proud of me, on your birthday, which is nothing but selfish. Fuck it.
Eight leaves for the noble eightfold path. All that time and I wasn’t paying attention? Come on, baby. Give me more credit than that. This is what you mean to me:
1. Right View
2. Right Intention
3. Right Speech
4. Right Action
5. Right Livelihood
6. Right Effort
7. Right Mindfulness
8. Right Concentration
Surprised? I don’t blame you. Confused? Ditto. But here’s the deal; I might not be much for yoga, but I’m way into you. Buddhists say these are the eight ways to an enlightened life and I want you to know, sincerely, that they remind me of you. You make me want to do better, and that’s pretty great if you ask me. You aren’t perfect, but I don’t care. Nothing is perfect and there’s always a bit of beauty in the flaws.
In conclusion, yes, I gave you leaves for your birthday, leaves and this letter. And it’s not because I’m cheap and it’s not because I’m unimaginative; it’s because I didn’t want to get you something that would rust, rip, tear, or die. It’s because you’re amazing.
Also, it’s because your real present is on backorder through Amazon. Yay.
-Your favorite admirer
Written by: Logan Theissen
Photograph by: Sophie Stuart
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
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