Posts Tagged ‘columbine’

Chapter 14 May

I am outside at Bluff Island, behind the house, and as my mother comes up the stone steps with a wicker laundry basket under her arm, I think how much I like the bones in her face as they tilt up in the light.

I know her ankle is still tender, so her smile confuses me. Then I see that my mother is wearing the most beautiful flower I have ever seen in a tiny vase pinned to her jacket.

“What is that?” I ask, looking closely at the yellow-centered red flower.

“It’s a red columbine,” she says proudly. She puts down the laundry and pulls out her wild flower identification book and shows me a perfect picture of the very flower she is wearing. Then she returns the book to her pocket and walks past me to start pinning up the laundry.

“Where did you get it?” I assume she picked it herself, and will tell me the spot.

“Your father gave it to me.”

“Oh.” He’s been so mean to her for so long, I don’t know what to think. All I know is that I am pissed. This—this giving of a flower—is a violation of the rules of the family. Everyone barely tolerates mom. We can love her, but we have to be a little mean to her or she will start taking care of herself. This thought comes into my head, and I don’t know from where. I had no idea I thought like this. Even so, it is not right that she has a flower and I do not. I had assumed my father liked me better. He should’ve given me the flower. The delicate red petals swoop back from the yellow center. I am indignant.

“Can I have it?” I ask. I expect my mother to give me anything she has, she always does, “No,” she answers.

“Mommy, I want it.”

“No,” she says.

“Where’d he get it then?” I’m determined to have one. I must level the playing field. I want to steamroller my mother. I’m going to get one of those flowers; I am going to straighten this out!

“I don’t think there is another one,” she says. “I think they are very rare.” I am surprised to notice that I take satisfaction that the bounce in her step has diminished somewhat from my push to take her gift. My mom has been unhappy for so long, I always imagined I wanted her to be happy. But maybe I thought it would be me who would save her.

She is almost done hanging the clothes. I can tell she wants to go back inside, get away from me.

“Well I’m going to find one myself.” I tell her, and begin by looking down at the rocks at our feet.

Amazingly, I find one almost where I am standing.

“Look Mom, here’s one. I guess they’re not so rare.” Her face falls as I hold up the flower. Now I point to the little bud vase on her coat.

“Oh Mom, do you have another one of those?”

“No sweetie, sorry.”

“Well, can I use yours then?”

“No,” she says. “That’s my pin.”

“Don’t you have another one?”

“No.”

“Okay, so you should let me use it.”

“No, I said no.”

“I should get a turn.” She turns to walk away from me. “But I picked the flower, what’s going to happen to it?” She looks at me like I’m a retard.

“Put it in a jelly glass,” she says and slams the back door behind her.


19

04 2010


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