The land was grass in all directions grass and mesquite trees grass that hid Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrushes. One summer we gathered them all in a triumphant bundle of blue and white, red and orange. Our faces streaked with red Texas clay we proudly presented the fruits of our harvest to our mother.
She cried. She cried over the blooms through a smile. She smiled because we loved her, she cried because we broke the cycle of flower from seed to root and they would never grow again. Her laugh lines crinkled with sorrow as she gave us instructions on drying and extracting their ink.
Thirteen magical acres of space imprisoned the small house inside miles of waving grass. Wispy salt-and-pepper hair pulled under a scarf, she dug her paint-stained fingers into red soil and coaxed her dream garden into life, a half-acre wide with melons, strawberries, zucchini, corn.
In her mind’s eye the artist sketched out her farm: chickens, horses and goats.
Her best friend died in the middle of the night we picked up the pretty girl I had grown up with, played with, fought with. I was sad my friend had lost her mom I didn’t see my mother’s best friend had left the earth. Her confident, the woman she walked with, shared trauma, everyday-ness gone.
She had watched her friend glow translucent as cancer ate her brain. She disappeared into the tall grass where my mother could not follow. We never knew - a mother hides her pain.
Her fingers bled charcoal, brightly colored chalk, and silence as she watched her children grow.
Then came the day cancer took my mother by the hand and led her where I could not follow. My confidante walked into the tall grass until she vanished obscured by the thorns of the mesquite. Her beauty swallowed by the land that had long ago staked a claim on her soul.
It swallowed us all, grassy farmland dotted with mesquite trees and tears a broken cycle hearts pulled out by the root unable to go to seed.
FLASH GLASS: A MONTHLY PUBLICATION OF FLASH FICTION, PROSE POETRY, & MICRO ESSAYS
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