by Amelia F, 9th
Sorry is never enough. You said it all the time. Six years ago, when I was only five I didn’t quite get it because my ironbound mother always told me to apologize when I made messes and fell over all of the time. When I scraped my knee getting off the purple bike, my mother coddled me. Through my blurry tears as she put my colorful bandaid on, I could see your smirk of disapproval. Before, mother liked me the most but now, there was no one else to like.
I remember when mother was cooking chicken and I was sitting around our wood table which was shaky and one of its legs was about to fall. The door opened and I felt the cool wind brush against my shoulders as it closed behind you. You always made big entrances. It was barely two seconds before you started yelling at mother like the angry swans I always see at the park who squawk at me until I have to cover my ears and pray that they don’t get up out of their little tranquil green pond and follow me home squawking, squawking, squawking; all the way home. You angrily dropped your backpack on our rickety old floor and said; “Mom, I don’t understand why in the world I can’t I go to the movies tonight, all of my friends are going and this isn't fair, you never let me do anything, ANYTHING!!” Our mother stood as still as the footprints I make with my big snow shoes that remain traced in the powdery snow forever. She was good with anger, she had to be with my dad. “Honey,” she said with barely any tone, “Today’s a school night and well I’m not going to sugarcoat this, your grades aren't exactly the best.” She sugarcoated it. You were smart but things sometimes, well, always, got in your way.
I remember the time you yelled at me so loudly and the rain and dirt splattered on my yellow rain jacket. I was walking outside to jump in puddles and feel the raindrops drip down my long face until they filled up my sneakers with pools of muddy water. You hated rain and told me it was the sky crying. I always said they were happy tears. I was looking at the grey sky and wondering why it changed colors all the time. Most people just saw it as you did, a generic shade of blue, but I saw as black, grey, and so many unique shades of sapphire. During sunrises I would climb on the roof just to see the sky’s beautiful shades of deep purple and orange embracing around the wispy white clouds and hugging the golden sun. You looked at me the way you did whenever you're about to say something you don’t mean and I just started thinking about the puddles in my sneakers and the grey sky. You began yelling but I couldn’t hear what you were saying over the claps of thunder. I could see you grow tense when I didn’t respond so I ran back inside our house, the muddy water dripping all over our narrow hallway. I pretended to sob into my arms to give you satisfaction and run to my room. When you came inside, you didn’t look the least bit satisfied and I couldn’t tell if your face was covered in warm salty tears or rather the skies tears; raindrops rolling down your red face.
I woke up this morning just in time to see the phoenix of dawn sweeping the empty night sky, warming its dark colors in its fire and I stared intently through my boring old window. The great bird sometimes left white puffs of smoke in the morning sky. They looked like frightened animals that were running away from something, not nearly fast enough and all of us down here couldn’t see anything but ourselves. I crept down the musty hallway and peered into my mother’s dreary room. She was passed out and her snoring sounded like a broken vacuum cleaner. I sighed and made my way to the mudroom which barely fit all of my rain boots that were filled with oceans of the brown remainder of the puddles I had stepped in. I slipped the driest pair on, grabbed my seeds I bought from the market two days prior, and my watering can that was covered in green tangled vines. It must be nice to be a flower, pretty to look at no matter what— and to have a beautiful aroma that is so intoxicating it lures people in as days pass by.
I opened my door and felt the crisp moist air settle on my face. I bent down to touch the dewdrops that had formed on the lush green grass below my feet, clearly not perfectly trimmed. I looked behind me at the elaborate web some lovely spider had decided to weave at the front of our porch. Isn’t it weird to think a creature so small and different can make such a thing? The dewdrops on the spider’s web glistened as the sun gently became a wondrous shade of dandelion yellow. Satisfied I trotted down to the end of our street as I heard the world lazily wake up. But did it ever fall asleep in the first place?
I turned right and crossed the never ending street until I reached you. I didn’t expect anyone to be here other than me, you, the morning and the garden. I stood before your grave and instead of my systems flooding with emotions like before, the dam I strongly built prevented the crooked river full of poisoned fishy thoughts to flow. I knelt down to brush my rough hands against the silkiness of the orange marigolds I know you would have loved. You would say “Isabella, you should wear that color more often. It goes with your eyes.” I knew I would never sparkle like you do in any clothes so why bother trying like a fool.
I clutched my watering can until my fingers were red and throbbing with pain and let go. Sometimes we yearn for pain when we don’t want to actually feel it. Sometimes I wish I had never felt pain, but I heard it was needed to feel happiness. Why don’t I feel happy then? God, sometimes it’s just too much and I just close my eyes and count to ten and hope it will all start over again. I forget you are not here sometimes and every time I hear footsteps down the hallway I turn my head to gleefully insult you and ask you how failing school was. Why do people have to die? I mean I know it’s natural and all, but we need you and mom needs you and think of all the people you could have met who needed you.
Yesterday morning I saw an old man with a wrinkly face standing at the grave next to me, and I expected him to start crying, but instead he started smiling and laughing up at the sky. He placed a small toy train at the foot of the grave and left. My hands smell like lavender all the time now, because of the garden which I guess is a good thing. My mom says I need to be more practical and stop playing in the dirt, but I think she misunderstands what I am doing. She is sad enough as it is, so I don’t pursue my opinion.
Anyways, I miss you and I know sorry is never enough but I hope this garden is.
Oakland | East Bay, CA