Lotus Flower Dreams

December 18, 2011
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I remembered cinnamon apple tea and nutella spread on lightly toasted bagels. I remembered them on days such as these when the rays of the sun blend with the golden tree tops and the chilled autumn breeze sinks through your skin putting a layer of frost on your bones. I remembered dad. I remembered the way he painted. He could take a brush and a blank canvas and turn it into something beautiful the same way that a chrysalis turns a plain green caterpillar into a butterfly with a sublime glow. The recollection was useless, though. No amount of memories could ever bring dad back.

The wind rushed by in a sudden gust making me pull my hoodie closer to me as I walked down the street. This town had been built for autumn days. The decaying brick buildings seemed to blend with the orange and yellow of the trees and the scent of moldy leaves. It was beautiful in a simple, modest way.

My converse slapped on the cobble stone steps that lead up to the fairy tale like wooden door of the book store. My dad used to take me to the book store all the time. He had first introduced me to the written world. I love everything about books. I loved the way they smelled after years of dust had accumulated on them, the way that the best books were tattered, and how there could be another universe bound in between two covers.

I sat in between the shelves and randomly plucked books from their places. I read my favorite parts form my most beloved stories. Sometimes I would pick up something knew and get tangled in the fabrication on the author’s speech. I stayed there for hours. I would do anything to avoid the asylum that was my house.

When I got home the house was empty, with the exception of Aunt Elmira. Elmira was my dad’s sister and had the inner beauty to match her pulchritude. Her slim, tall figure was elegant. Her hair was waste length and such a light blonde that it gave her the illusion of having a halo. Her eyes were a reflection of her purity. The lucid, unflinching ice blue irises were windows into her altruistic soul.

“Where’s mom?” I asked. She must be here, in the house. My mother often hid in her room wallowing in her self pity and letting her pain consume any part of her that used to happy, that used give a damn.

“She’s in the shower.” My aunt was suddenly very interested in scrubbing the pan. I understood. Mom was trapped by her heavy sadness. She needed a way out and she found a way. But it wasn’t the right way. It was self mutilation.

My mom suffered from dermatillomania or compulsive skin picking. She would pick at the skin on her arms so much that they would start to bleed and start swelling with tiny red welts. After binging on skin picking, my mom would take showers. I think she took showers afterwards so she wouldn’t have to feel her tears touch her face but instead would feel the sting on her wounds as the hot water flowed down her body. During those
showers you could hear her repeating the words I’m sorry over and over again. It’s very distressing when one parent takes their own life, and then the other one is suicidal.

My sister, Lucerne, has other methods. Drinking and cocaine are amongst her favorites. Luce’s eyes used to shine with a healthy, exultant glow. Now they glowed with the daze of hallucinogens. After dad died, she destroyed herself. She used to have flowing red hair that has now twisted into dreadlocks. She used to dress in pretty psychedelic gypsy skirts and tank tops and now she dressed in grungy tie-dye shirts that were too long so she wouldn’t have to were anything with them.

“Are you going out tonight, Adrienne?” Elmira looked at me with those pure eyes. They were filled with apprehension. The creases in her forehead and the way that the corner of her lips turned down showed it too.

“Maybe.” I replied.

“What if you get caught?” Being an apathetic teenager, I shrugged.

“I get arrested, go to court, do community service. I promise you cacography isn’t on my to-do list tonight. If I do go out, I’ll be looking for Luce.”

“Either way you’ll probably get arrested.” My aunt mumbled as I walked out of the kitchen.

The walls of my house were blank. They used to be crowded with pictures. My mother had taken them down after my father died. Framed happy memories put behind glass were too agonizing for her to bear. They weren’t tangible, and never would be again so they might as well be forgotten.

My father’s art studio was in the dusty attic of our house. It had always reminded me of a garden. Every painting was like a flower that bloomed by being nurtured and cared for. This was the one place that still felt like home.

I picked up a brush and started to paint. If the real world couldn’t be tranquil, then I would create something that was. I believed that creation was the key to happiness. With every brush stroke bad memories, doubts, and regrets evanesced from the places in my mind that I hid them.

Paper wasn’t my only canvas. I also painted on walls. I suppose I liked graffiti because of the thrill, the fear of getting caught. But I hated how I felt when I was done. Graffiti was a coping method that was just as guilty as my mom’s and my sister’s.

I took a step back to examine my work. A lotus flower, in all its luminescent pink glory, sat on the page. Dad had been obsessed with lotus flowers because they were the only flower that grew in the mud. There used to be a framed picture of one in every room but my mother had smashed them all. Elmira and I picked up all the glass and saved the pictures. Life, right now, was like mud.

The never ending night sky was as black as onyx. The stars watched over the earth as they danced their violent ballet. Outside was a pond absent of ripples.

I was lying in bed, half awake. My long, willowy limbs were stretched out and relaxed. The quiescent hours of early morning were the only time that I had serenity. I wasn’t tense. I wasn’t worried. I could just lye there be still.

Downstairs there was loud crashing like someone falling. Luce! Just like that my sense of calm was ended. I rushed down the stairs to see Lucerne lying limp on the floor. Elmira appeared at the bottom of the staircase just as I was turning Luce over to check her throat and nose. They were both clogged with vomit making her breathing shallow. Her skin was sweaty and cool.

“Elmira she overdosed.” I spoke around the knot in my throat. “She-she can’t breath.” Elmira took me into her tenacious embrace and told me that everything would be okay. She told me the thicker the mud, the more beautiful the flower. I wiped the tears away from my face and helped move Luce from the carpet to the car. I wouldn’t loose someone else I loved. Everything would be okay. After we moved Luce, Elmira told me to get my mother.

“Mom?” I whispered. My voice was a knife cutting through the silence. My mom turned over and stared at me. Her eyes were dead. They lacked the effulgence they once had. “Mom, Luce has to go to the hospital. She needs you.” She shook her head. “Mom, just get up.” This time my voice was filled with vehemence. When she just sat there, I grabbed her arm and pulled her up. There were probably going to be finger shaped bruises on her arm. Right now, though, I didn’t care. What she did to herself was worse.

“You don’t need to be mean.” My mom whispered. My mother was ignorant. All she knew and wanted know was her own pain.

The hospital waiting room was vexatious. Everything was too neat. It felt unnatural to be in such a neat place when everything going on underneath, was so chaotic. All these emotions were a silent storm. Anger, confusion, sadness, they were all flashes of lightning but there was no thunder to answer back.

My mother had a dazed expression. She used to be pretty, wholesome. Her red hair used to flow gracefully down her back like Lucerne’s. They were both of medium height and curvy. They both had excited, elated, emerald eyes. Well, at least they did.

Luce had overdosed. Lucerne Osborne had overdosed on opium! I was angry but not at Luce. Why wasn’t mom there for use when dad died? We could’ve gotten through it together like a family. But mom had to be selfish. I couldn’t help but think of lotus flowers. Did the mud ever get so thick that the flower couldn’t grow?

Elmira, my mom, and I had to leave. We were silent. My mom was digging her fingernails into her skin and scratching. I saw her arms. I saw all the scratches and all the welts.

When you’re little, your parents seem like gods. They can chase away the monsters under the bed and in the closet. They can wipe your tears and make your sadness disappear. But then you grow up. You see that your parents have their own monsters and their own sadness. Your parents aren’t gods. They’re just people. And just like most people they can be really screwed up. And that makes you angry.

“Mom stop picking at your arms.” I said.

“It makes me happy.” She said as she dug her fingernails deeper into her skin. I flinched.

“No it doesn’t. It makes you feel numb. Doing this to yourself,” I grabbed her arm, “makes you forget. It makes you blind. You have two daughters who really need and you can’t see that because you’re too busy punishing yourself. It’s been six months, mom. Forgive yourself. Forgive yourself before you put a gun to your head.” My mother’s eyes were wide with astonishment. The psychoanalysis might have been a little much but it was the truth.

The silence of the night engulfed us leaving us to our own thoughts. Tears pooled at the bottom of my mothers eyes. They were the tears that she had refused to shed when my father died, when she felt sad, and when she hurt herself. But they were there now. Honest to god tactile tears were streaming down my mothers face.

In the morning, the frost that had assembled on the grass the night before was steaming in the warm autumn sun. The steam was a dancer that gracefully twirled and snaked into a sky that was absent of clouds.

Luce had called earlier that morning, crying. She said she wanted to get off drugs. She said that she never wanted to be lost in the world hallucinations again. She said she wanted to be healthy again. I was proud of her.

My mom walked into the kitchen. Her hair was combed; she was wearing her favorite pair of jeans and a long-sleeved blouse. She had this radiant glow that illuminated her face. Her eyes were no longer cloudy and dazed. They were clear and intelligent.

“Where are you going?” I asked timidly. Was she mad at me?

“I’m going to see a therapist.” She replied. Her voice reminded me of moonlight and the way it moves, slowly but beautifully, across a landscape. Last night it had reminded me of a crow.

I sat their idly moving my cereal around with my spoon and smiled. The expression was so foreign. My lips curled back to reveal my teeth. It had been so longs since I last smiled. I smiled and thought of lotus flowers. Last night I had been wondering if the mud ever got so thick that the flower couldn’t grow. But my aunt was right, the thicker the mud the more beautiful the flower. Life, right now, was blooming.

I knew they both my mom and my sister wished that they could take back what they had done, what had happened. They couldn’t, though. But it didn’t matter because I forgave them and dad.

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