If I am repaired, can we meet again for the first time, in all of the places I have feared to go, and then, again, in all of the places I will have forgotten, if I am repaired?



SC



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Friday, March 18, 2011

Mag 57: 'Violets'



She had just settled in when the violets began to arrive.

   The gifting women, in various shades of gray, introduced themselves as so-and-so’s wife, from this farm or that.

   ‘Here’s a little something for the house,’ each told her, forwarding the tiny potted plants, like casserole dishes in the wake of a grave loss.

     She accepted the gifts graciously; coaxing the women, one by one, off of the June porch and into the parlor.

     The wives were never able to stay more than a minute or two, and gravitated toward the kitchen in search of an eastward window. 'African violets aren't true violets,' they explained, 'and do best in the morning sun.'

     'Is that chiffon you're wearing dear?’ the wives had asked, remembering their own first years—how things were for ‘new couples’—exclaiming that it looked like the Welcome Wagon had already been there, when they saw the crowd of mock-violets growing on the sill, above the sink.

     She ended up with an even dozen and questioned her husband about the gifts, clearly a tradition.

     For his lifetime of living there, he couldn’t explain the plants. ‘Women around here do things different,’ he had told her. ‘That’s why I went to town for you.’

     It was enough.

     She cared for them, as the wives had instructed and the little plants thrived in the warmth of the deep sill.

     When the first dead foliage appeared, she realized that she had yet to touch the velveteen leaves or lush purple flowers. Frank hostilities were all she knew of Africa. She had half-expected to be stung by the plants.

     She had laughed though, at her racing heart, when finally, she held the dry leaves in her palm. She had stood down the lion.

     Alone that summer, as long as daylight remained, she discovered Britannica’s in the attic.

     Waiting for the growing season to pass, she explored the book's glossy worlds, learning of an Africa, tender and tropical enough to nurture her violets.

     When winter set in though, she found she would be alone, regardless the light.

     Day after day, she watched her husband over the violets, driving up the lane for his dinner, his supper. As the years passed, it became harder and harder for her to distinguish the man from the machines and the redundant landscape, until finally, she no longer noticed him returning at all.

     Now, in the glass of the new bride’s front door, she could see herself on the porch, holding the tiny potted plant: another gray tradition, bearing flowers to an early grave.

     She left without knocking.

     At the end of the drive, she nosed the car toward her home town—toward something chiffon. Silk maybe... violet.

8 comments:

  1. Depressing. Kind of reminds me of Kate Chopin's "Story of an Hour." If I get married, I hope I won't be walking into an "early grave." Beautiful writing, though, Steven.

    I have one question about the fourth to last paragraph... "She watched him...driving up the lane to be fed..." She is talking about her husband, right? I'm not sure I understand the line. Why is he needing to be fed? Did you mean to use another word or...what?

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  2. This is so beautifully written ... 'the gifting women' ... I love that. Entrancing Magpie.

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  3. Oh... sigh.
    Beautiful and all, but... sigh.

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  4. Beautiful, Steven! Very, very sad, but mesmerizing and beautiful!

    You have such a talent for writing! I always get super excited when I see you've posted something new!!!

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  5. Sad, yes, but so beautiful. You have taken the innocent expectations of all new brides and traveled them down the road of life until reality emerges and the cycle begins again. Brilliant!

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  6. Chiffon is such a nostalgic word. Beautiful write, Seven.

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  7. What a sentimental short story. You paint pictures with the most intense colors. I loved it.

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