Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Garden of Daisies

Written for: The Writer's Tower
Theme: Phoenix

Garden of Daisies

By Lisa Kwan

I kneaded the soil with my hands, relishing the feel of the dirt between my fingers, the earth trapped in my fingernails turning them brown-black. The spade lay beside me, but I felt no need for it.

I looked up for a moment, stared at the sky. Dark clouds were visible in the distance, but right now, over my flowerless garden, the sun was bright and glaring, and hot; small beads of perspiration were beginning to form on my temples even though I had only just started. I’d better get this done soon.

I dug my fingers deeper, removing more soil, the beginnings of a hole forming, a shallow grave. I kept on digging, trying to keep my mind focused only on what was in front of me. Dig, dig, dig. Don’t think of anything else, I tell myself. Don’t think.

The corner of my eye caught the pale, smooth stone I had brought with me out to the garden, and I failed. I don’t really know how it would have looked like, but I had imagined it fair, and beautiful, taking after Jonah’s and my complexion.

Nowadays, that is as far as I would allow myself to imagine. The more I had imagined, the bigger the heartbreak, the deeper the scars. Would he or she have been a runner, like Jonah? Or a pianist, like me? Would he or she have liked eating cereal, or vegetables? Or be a meat-lover? Would he or she have grown up to be a doctor, an artist, a teacher, a national swimmer?

No one would ever really know. And I hated myself for wondering.

I blinked back the tears, trying to push the feelings away, failing yet again. The ugly monster emerged once more, sneaking its slimy limbs around me; first around my waist, up my back, over my shoulders, then closing in on my neck and throat, chest, until I couldn’t breathe. Was it my fault? Had I done something to cause this? Maybe if I had been happier, more careful, it would still be alive?

I hadn’t asked for this. I had never thought of myself as a mother. But those stupid daydreams and sickly giddiness at the thought of being one had grown and flourished as the weeks went by—having a little girl to share my love of summer dresses, or a little boy to teach to go catch spiders with. Stupid.

I remember when it had first happened. Oh, the pain. It felt like someone had punched (and kicked) my stomach. Or like someone was turning my body inside out through my abdomen. I had fleetingly thought, Is this how it feels to die? And oh, the bleeding. So much blood. And then came that sinking feeling, that my nightmare had materialized. It felt like a huge stone had been slowly, carefully, lowered squarely onto my chest.

I picked up the stone, clasped it in both my hands and held it to my heart, closed my eyes and wept. Goodbye, little one. I already love you with all my being.

Maybe I was not meant to ever have a healthy baby. Maybe I was only meant to carry them around with me for several weeks, dream of our lives together, share whispered secrets and wishes and thoughts to each other, and then they leave. Maybe that is all the mother I will ever be.

When my sobs had ceased, I lifted the stone, touched it to my lips. I finally lowered it into the hole I had made, and gently covered it with the loose soil, built a small mound of earth, a mountain of my grief.

I sat up and took a deep quivering breath, and stared at my flowerless garden, now with six silent mounds staring back at me. No more, I tell myself. No more, please.

But my breath catches. I notice something I hadn’t before. A single, tiny, delicate daisy, growing atop the very first one. How? I wonder. How?

I see a little girl kneel down by the daisy, touch it lightly, and turn to me laughing. I see a little boy run up to it, sniff it and call me over excitedly, asking if he can pluck it.

I blink through the tears, and they disappear. I want that. So badly.

I hold my breath as I walk over to the daisy and kiss it. Some day, I think. I’m going to be a mom.

Author’s Note: Written for the Writer’s Tower with the theme “Phoenix”. Inspired by a recent experience of a friend who is now expecting. Details mostly fiction.


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