Pressed Flowers

I am sitting in the library for the third night in a row. It is past midnight, in fact, it is even past one in the morning. I am tired. My mind is thinking about upcoming finals and the end of the school year, which always means the beginning of summer. Instead of having that feeling of elation as the summer nears, I feel like the days are pressing against me, that time is speeding up just to test me and see what I will do as it drew to a close. I am holding in my hands some dried stems to some old flowers. I should be studying but my attention is focused on the window across the room from me. Outside it seems that the trees are swinging their vines at me like hints of the summer rope swings. I don’t give into their suggestions for daydreams. I am not interested in anything sunny. This summer does not promise to be anything worth looking forward to, let alone experiencing.

            Instead of studying or thinking about the upcoming summer, I am now thinking about my pressed flowers I had smashed in a big book under my mattress years ago. I should have thrown out those flowers. It’s that optimistic romantic side of me that insists that in the future I will want to look at these small examples of nature’s beauty. My mind lost a battle against my heart and those roses took on a life of their own. They no longer represented the beauty of nature, but the complexity of humans. If nature is beautiful and pure, then humans are ugly and muddled. Now these simple flowers had been wrapped up in confusion. I was keeping them because I thought I might someday forgive the person who gave them to me for giving them to me. I was keeping them because I thought I might want to remember why I am never going to forgive the person who gave them to me. I was keeping them because it was the first time that someone had sent me flowers and despite everything, I loved the person who gave them to me for giving them to me. I was keeping them because I might want to remember how pretty they were. I was keeping them because my mom had told me to throw them out. I was keeping them to prove to myself that I was bigger than sarcasm. I was keeping them because I wanted to believe I could forgive the person who gave them to me for giving them to me. I was keeping them because I wanted to convince myself that the person who gave them to me did not just give them to me to upset me. I was keeping them because I did believe that the person who gave them to me gave them to me to upset me. I was keeping them to prove that I was not upset by them.

            I rub my lower back, lost in the memories of the flowers. Keeping those flowers under my mattress had not helped my sleep, or my back. My first flowers and I couldn’t really enjoy them. In my hurry to preserve them for all eternity I had not let them out in the open. Instead I had smashed them all between the pages of books and shoved those under my mattress, out of sight. I couldn’t enjoy the flowers until they were completely dead. My logic was beyond understandable. Even to myself, never a good sign. The flowers were red. By the time I opened the pages holding their meaning, they were so dark they almost looked black. It impressed me how they were able to enhance the symbolism while smashed in meaningless books.

            I wasn’t able to forgive the person who had given them to me by the time I reopened those pages. The roses just reminded me of my open wound. Except now, instead of the blood pouring out the color of those flowers’ petals, it had crusted over the color of the flat black flowers. Some of the petals had turned frail and cracked into dust when I picked them up. I couldn’t really remember the details of what had bothered me about the flowers anyway, or the person that had sent them to me. The flowers seemed too real.

            Now all I have are the stems. The petals have lost themselves somewhere. Maybe they have run off with the memories of what happened between me and that person who sent me those flowers. I can’t remember now what it was that that person did, or why that person sent me flowers, I can’t even remember who that person was. All I remember is the symbol behind the petal-less stems. All those reasons I pressed them. But no conclusions or details attached to those reasons. I drop the stems in the trash, take one last glance at the trees and gather my books for the bus ride home.

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