the POTENTIAL of PETALS

Art by  Chelsea Dirck

(An excerpt from a new piece I’ve been working on about addiction, loss, gardening, and watching your childhood friends vanish.)

We made fireworks out of flowers back then. We picked the ones that reminded us of fire—our mothers' chrysanthemum and forsythia—and teared the petals off into plastic beach pails. The snapdragons were our spectators and the honeysuckle our refreshments; we made their mouths move in awe and we sucked their sweet nectar. We ran across our neighbor’s front yard, the one that separated us, and tossed handfuls of wilted petals into the air. We screamed BOOM! and our mothers watched and wondered what in the world we would bloom into.

Sean was my first true friend, in the sense that we were neighbors and it was convenient. We were friends before school and the taunts of the opposite gender, and until high school we spent most of our time together. He lived on the corner, in a blue Victorian with a wraparound porch that was guarded by a looming white pine. I lived deeper into the cul-de-sac, in a standard two-story—the house that my mother grew up in—with a crumbling brick walkway and an oak my grandfather planted in the '60s. Our mothers were friends, in the sense that they were neighbors and it was convenient, and so it began…

Cynthia Schemmer