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Three Leaves and Green
Three leaves and green. Three leaves and green, with some white dots sprinkled here and there. Three leaves and green, with a long stem. Small with three leaves. Leaves of three and green with a yellow stripe. Three leaves.
“Leaves of three, let it be”, hummed Mark under his breath, tired fingers working diligently. “In a while, crocodile. See you later, alligator.” His newlywed wife worked beside him, pretty eyes narrowed in concentration as she turned over clover after clover. “Stop rambling, Mark,” she said. “We need to concentrate.”
Three leaves, three leaves, three leaves. “Anna, this isn’t fun like you said. I don’t think we’re ever gonna find it. Let’s just go home and have a nice dinner, ‘kay?”
Anna raised her face to him. Her shiny brown hair was pulled back in a tight ponytail. The thin lines on her narrow face looked a little deeper. “Honey, where is your determination? It’s a tradition to find a four-leaf clover on the first day of marriage. It means we will have a blessed future. I read it.” Mark sighed. “Anything for you, darling”, he muttered, and bent over the dirt once again.
Green, all green. Three, three, three. Green, green, green. Three, all three. When to they came to this park it had been sunny. The pleasure parks were alight with slanting yellow sunbeams, shining in the leaves of tall trees, shining in the rhododendron flowers. Endless flowers. They had been holding hands, laughing and kissing, and then Anna, his pretty, pretty Anna, had pointed out the hill. “Mark, let’s find a four-leaf clover! It’ll be fun.”
Three leaves and green. Oh look, one of this one’s leaves are ragged. How exciting, this one is bigger than all the rest. But guess what? They all have three leaves!
The sun had slipped away. Like a fish, thought Mark, like that perfect trout that cut all the lines and just went. Now there were gray wooly clouds that looked like rain. Rain was definitely coming. “Anna, baby, maybe we should go home now. It doesn’t look so nice out. I don’t want you catching a cold.”
“Keep working Mark. We’ll find it. It’s here.”
“Come out, come out, wherever you are. We know you’re here, somewhere…” sang Mark in his best spooky voice. Anna turned, whipping her brown ponytail, and favored him with a singularly bitter scowl. “Honestly, Mark, I don’t know if you want this or not.” “Of course I do, sweetheart. I’m just getting a bit tired. It has been 3 hours, you know.” “And there’s still 3/4s of the hill left to go! So get working, Mark!”
Three leaves and green. Three leaves and green. Three leaves and green. Mark felt a drop of water on his face. He lowered his head and kept searching.
The rain came, and passed. The sun sank down like lead and there was no sunset. Now it was dark and Mark was still working, shining the light of his phone at each individual clover. Three, three, three. What a wretched number. His back ached and his fingers ached and his legs were numb. His wet hair clung to his scalp and every now and then he rocked with uncontrollable shivers. Anna worked steadily beside him, face drawn and white, set like clay. Mark remembered her endless months of “correcting his flaws” before their marriage—alcohol, cigarettes, television, boom! Out the window. He remembered how she had pored for hours over the wedding arrangements; the right types of flowers, what kind of music, who would sit next to whom. He remembered the Hunt for the Perfect Ring.
Three and green. Three and green. Three. Three. Four.
Four. Mark stared at his fingers in amazement. The perfect clover stared back at him. It said I am perfect and green and Mark hated it. The fourth petal was ripped off with controlled precision and Annalise didn’t notice a thing. Mark stood up. “Anna”, he said.
His wife looked up at him. In the dull moonlight, she looked bent like an old woman, her white fingers clawing through the dirt. Mark looked at her tired, ugly, crazy eyes and wondered how he had ever thought she was pretty. “What, Mark?” she spat, and the moon swam behind clouds for shelter. Mark stood tall and still. His eyes were clear.
“There is no such thing as a four-leaf clover.”