Being Cautious With Buttercups

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


I wrap my fingers around the stem of a buttercup and pluck it from its grassy bed. “There,” I say as I tuck it behind my sister’s ear, “you look beautiful.” Lily giggles for a second before remembering that she is sad. I take her hand in mine and lead her to the steps in front of the house. Here, we sit and she leans her fragile frame against me. She looks up at me as I put my arm around her and I instantly see her running from house to house on Halloween. She beamed at anyone who would look, from behind a plastic tiara and fairy wings. The image fades behind a cloud in her irises and I’m left somewhere short of a smile, with a small bit of warmth at my side. She tries to smile at me but soon reverts back to biting her lip.

“What’s it feel like to be grown up?” she finally asks. I laugh and assure her that it’s not much different. That I haven’t quite grown up anyways and I doubt I ever will. There is some truth to the statement, but she glares at me anyways as if I’ve just told her the worst lie since God kicked Adam and Eve out of the country club.

“Tell me the truth, Jesse,” she demands. My mind ventures to the acceptance letter sitting in the front pocket of my bookbag; how I had clutched onto it as if it were my key to another universe. They don’t include the guilt in letters like that. They just tell you how wonderful everything will be. Leaving people behind is translated into freedom that people my age normally crave; something I don’t know how to explain to a nine year old. Lily’s eyes are starting to water again. I pull her onto my lap and kiss her forehead. “Shh,” I whisper, “It’ll be alright.” The buttercup behind her ear is starting to wilt already.

As I pull her to my chest and stroke her hair, I stare out at the long grass in our front yard. So much will change for her after I leave. Within a month she’ll have inherited my old chore of mowing the lawn. That job always felt indecent for me. It wasn’t the act of mowing the lawn itself that deterred me, but the execution of all those clover and buttercups that had found home there over time.

At Lily’s age, I had idolized those blossoms. I would spend all of my time outside tucking flowers into braids or making bouquets for the table in the front hallway. I introduced Lily to daisy-chains before she could even walk, and in time they became a necessary part of fairy princess costumes. Fairy chains, she called them. No one ever bothered to correct her.

Lily pulls away from me and sloppily wipes the tears off of her face before beginning to sift through the clover patch at my feet. Clovers are the best flowers for fairy chains. They’re durable and trustworthy. Lily loved the buttercups best, but we had to be especially careful with them because of how easy it was to accidentally rip off their petals.

She’s given up on the search for four leafed clovers now. She’s settled for sprawling across the patch on her stomach and fiddling with one of the flowers. She sighs, “I think all of the four leafed ones are lost.”

“Maybe,” I respond half-heartedly. The grass in the front yard is almost to her knees. I wonder if she will grow to hate the lawn mower as much as I had.

“What would happen if all the clovers and flowers got lost?” she asks me, scrunching up her forehead as she considers the possibility.

“They would probably feel a bit like I do right now.” I reach out and pick up another buttercup. I brush it against the tip of her nose and smile as a bit of the pollen rubs off. She wrinkles up her yellow-tipped nose and giggles.

 


Submitted: June 15, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Aiden R.. All rights reserved.

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