She kept a box of flowers under her bed. Not just any kind of flowers, but dandelions. She kept a box of dandelions under her bed. Some people called them weeds; a menace. Something to be completely exterminated. She saw something different. She saw something beautiful. She pushed it to the farthest corner and sealed it with duct tape. She told no one about the box and every night, she looked at her reflection and crossed her heart and hoped to die. She kept them safe. As safe as she possibly could because they represented her wishes. The kind of wishes that could ride through the wind and straight into the hearts of infinity and beyond.
She took one dandelion out every night and blew on it, letting the seeds fly out into the night air exactly at eleven-eleven, hoping that for a single minute that time would stop and that everything would fall right into place. Dandelions were the one thing that could make her believe in a brighter future, where the world could stop turning and the sun could stop shining and their golden heads would shine for themselves. Dandelions could save her when it all disappeared. When everything went bad.
The first time I ever laid eyes on her was at the end of March. I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t seen her before. The frost was just beginning to slowly disappear from the ground and the days were starting to stretch their joints longer than the nights. She came up to me one day when I was sitting around reading The Life of Pi for the millionth time. Looking at me for a bit with somewhat of a puzzled expression on her face, she opened up her purse and pulled out a bright yellow dandelion and gave it to me and walked away before I could say anything. This happened for about a week until I managed to get in my question.
“Come with me,” she replied.
So I did. I went with her and she took me to this field just outside of a high-school. Even though it was a particularly frigid day in April, she took off her shoes and began to walk barefoot through the frosted grass as if it was the most natural thing to do. She ran to the willow tree in her sundress as if it weren’t a few degrees from water turning into ice and laughed and danced and twirled around, begging me to come lay down with her in the icy grass and watch the clouds whizz by and see the dandelions awaken from their slumber. Her smile was so wide and her laugh infectious. It was like her heart was swallowing me whole and I couldn’t say no to her. I couldn’t do anything because my sweater was wet and I was cold to the bone and my teeth were chattering to the sound of my heartbeat. I couldn’t say anything and I couldn’t move. Not until she had stopped looking at the clouds and weaved her fingers into mine. I couldn’t say anything until my voice came back louder than I had intended when our sentences collided.
“Want to help me pick flowers?”
“Why are we watching weeds grow?”
Silence. Not the silence that’s pleasant, like when you’re staring into someone’s eyes before you kiss passionately. No, this was the kind of silence that everyone dreads. The one where it’s incredibly awkward until one person looks away and says something to change the topic. She didn’t say anything. She just let her hand leave mine and pushed herself from the ground. I couldn’t bring myself to watch her walk across the field slowly picking up dandelions. I couldn’t bring myself to do anything at all but lie there and wait for the rain to come, because all I wanted to be was washed away.
She picked flowers for forty minutes while I laid there and didn’t move except for when I needed to shiver. I didn’t hear her come back because of how lightly she walked and straddled my stomach with two bouquets in either hand. Her kneecaps were on either side of my hips and her hands were pressing the dandelions into my palms, almost as if she were begging me to keep those wishes for a day when I understood; for a day when I knew. Her lips were warm as she kissed my cheek and thanked me for keeping her company. Leaving her shoes under the willow tree, she walked home barefoot as I stayed right where I was, staring at the clouds until it began to rain.
I haven’t seen her since, nor have I seen her. It’s been a few years now, but whenever the end of March turns into the beginning of April, when long hours of cold and darkness open up to more light and warmth, when the dandelions begin to sprout everywhere, I close my eyes and I swear that I can see her. I swear that I can feel her and that I’m in a foreign world watching the skin of a gorgeous girl as she leans out the window and blows dandelion seeds to the wind. Sometimes I can see an open box at her feet with dead and broken dandelions inside and she looks so defeated and tired that every time it sends a shiver down my spine and my heart begins to beat faster and faster. And every time I’m tempted to pull out my own box and blow the seeds into the wind wishing for the world to cave in and for the stars to dim and for her to come back. But only this time I’m by her side picking those dandelions with her and feelings those seeds ride through the wind and into my heart.
But then I open my eyes and nothing has changed. I’m still in my room, or on the bus, or in the coffee shop where she first saw me. Where she first gave me her dandelions from her back. And she’s not there.
She’s gone, somewhere out there in the world blowing dandelions seeds into the wind and seeing flowers where the rest of the world sees nothing but weeds.
Dandelions saved her.