For the second, maybe third time today, I have started out to do one thing and ended up with something else entirely, so this post comes from a divine intervention of sorts.
Spontaneity hasn’t always been in my deck, but I’m learning to let the cards bend as they may, finding tranquility in the unwritten parts of life.
When I was, oh I don’t know, let’s say around seven years old, I was in the garden with a friend.
“Eat it,” she said. “You’ll see. It tastes just like honey!”
Being the people pleaser I still am was, I obliged. I took the soft, pale pink bloom, held it up to the sun and watched as the petals became transparent; their delicate veins lying vivid against the anemic backdrop.
With only a hint of hesitation, I pushed the flower into my mouth and pressed my lips down, crushing it.
“It’s called Honeysuckle,” she jeered. “You’re supposed to suck on it!”
I stood there letting the bud seep a surprisingly sour juice over my tingling tongue. A feeling set in; one I wasn’t familiar with at the time, but over the years I’ve come to know it as ‘the bad feeling.’ You know the one…the one where your kerosene-soaked heart plunges deep into the pit of your stomach and taunts it with brewing sparks.
“Why aren’t you eating one?” I asked her, hoping I didn’t already know the answer.
“Oh, I had one earlier,” she lied. “You just didn’t see me.”
My heart sunk lower, teasing the pit with its looming flick switch…
I turned and ran through the ivy-covered archway, back to where the adults were lounging on their lawn chairs, enjoying the cloudless afternoon.
Curling up on my *Aunt’s lap, I tucked my head into her shoulder.
“I ate a Honeysuckle,” I barely whispered into her neck.
“Oh dear,” she breathed, her frost-laden lips oddly emitting the scent of the Vaseline-like perfume she rubbed on her wrists every morning. “Honeysuckle is poisonous!” – the p in poisonous came off sounding like a dry smoke ring being puffed into the air.
Poisonous. My heart burst, then plummeted down to my toes, incinerating that nasty, old pit, lighting it in a hot, blue blaze.
“Yeah, I know,” I sighed…and lied, unable to say more.
Every night after that, for what seemed like months on end, I sobbed myself to sleep, waiting for the toxic nectar to still my clamoring pulse, praying I’d wake up in the morning, begging that the Honeysuckle wouldn’t be the end of me.
It never occurred to me that my Aunt didn’t seem all that concerned or that she hadn’t told my mother. Had I been older and wiser, I would’ve realized these were signs that I probably wasn’t in grave danger.
I don’t know why I kept it inside…why I didn’t want to burden anyone…why I felt it was such a deep, dark secret. I don’t know why my Aunt thought it was okay to tell a seven year old that something she ate was poisonous and leave it at that, but in the end, I drew the conclusion that *there weren’t a lot of steadfast truths in life, merely perceptions and perceptions can be our adversaries, atrophies and afflictions or we can add water, turn them into pulp and use them to write about on.
*this is an adaptation of a quote by Gustave Flaubert
*in the world of fiction i have many ‘aunts’ – don’t worry; you’re not this one (see post thirty-five, #3)