05 December 2009


As far back as her memory took her she woke up every morning with a petal in her mouth. She never told a living soul about it. Each morning, she took the petal out, and turned it round her eyes taking in the soft curving shades of yellow deepening toward its outer ruffled edge. Each morning, she placed it on her tongue and washed it down whole with a tepid cup of rosehip tea placed on a bedside table, saucer and all, by her grandmother when she brewed her own.

Every time a blue moon filled the night sky, her grandfather’s ghost visited. He told her everything he knew about anything she asked. Without fail. And he always told the truth. Unfortunately, he did not understand the petal, but was certain it was a mark to signify something special that would occur in her life. He always said, “It is a talisman, you will see.”

Sometimes she doubted her grandfather’s words. She wondered if everyone woke up with a petal in their mouth, and not one person ever talked about it. Why, there could be hundreds, thousands, even millions of people who woke up with a petal on their tongue. She let that thought simmer for several seasons and closely observed other people. She watched her mom wake up, she watched her grandmother wake up, she watched her dog wake up, she watched her friends wake up. Unless they secretly swallowed the petals, not one person woke with one on their tongue. She grew convinced that she was not at all like most people. She believed her grandfather. She pondered the petal’s significance.

Enter the young man. She met him at the Harvest Fair. When he said his name, she drew in breath, through no power of her own. It was as if the instant took hold of her and created the gasp. She knew he would be her first. He thought she might be his only. They explored tenderness through the Ferris Wheel’s magic circle, rising and falling and kissing and touching until the world disappeared.

It was almost the end of November. The crisp air held enough moisture to blur the stars. She met him in the cornfields behind the livestock barns at the fairgrounds. She stomped a flat area and spread out the love quilt her grandmother constructed of her grandfather’s clothes. Her grandfather might show up tonight. She listened to her young man stumble through the stalks and felt the blue moon rise. He did not perceive her until he fell upon the open quilt. She fell upon him with hunger, and then sleep took her far away.

She looked up. The morning sky was pale. Her young man appeared and held her eyes with his own. “Every night since I was a child I have had the same dream.," he began, "In the dream, my grandmother tells me I will wake to find a yellow petal in the mouth of my one true love. I did not have the dream last night.” He held the petal in his hand, and turned it around between their eyes. Then he placed it in his mouth, and swallowed it with a cup of tea from the thermos he brought. Rosehip tea.

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