Remember the crimson smoulder of my rage? When the crude tedium of life lacking lustre was too much—or too little—to bear. The echo of my fury knocked against the riverbank—This isn’t how it was supposed to be!…to be!…to be! Your warm mittened hand melted anger into the tap-dance of cinnamon hearts across my tongue. Round-eyed, you exclaimed, Mama, there is magic all around us! Whoosh—the Chinook’s hot breath pushed us forward and crackled the river ice. The drawbridge crumbled below our feet as we sped past dragons snapping at our draggling bones. We made it across in the nick of time, and you yanked me through an enchanted archway. Sunlight sparkled through glittering trees, jewelled gypsies swirled mirrored skirts and ballerinas stretched long limbs as they criss-crossed the crystalized stage.
Now, I refuse your grown-up appeal for scientific theories. You tell me, Mom, everybody knows that when sunlight varies, a plant hormone called auxin breaks down on the stem’s sunnier side. That’s why cells on the shady side grow longer. Trees only appear to bend toward the light.
Sunlight winked and waved farewell that day. Don’t you remember us waving back?
Remember our house perched on the edge of the prairie? Anxiety, that indigo anvil, weighed on my shoulders as you slept. My mind smothered me with its litany of tasks left to do—laundry to fold, papers to correct, bills to pay and a half-written thesis toppling off my desk. Wishing I had a cigarette, something to quell the panicked birds pecking at my chest, I sank into a cup of chamomile. I glanced up at the stars, and the sky stole my breath. The world stopped reeling as green and violet ribbons of light unfurled and stroked away the worry. When the lights disappeared, I exhaled. My magnetic lure feathered across the universe.
Don’t smirk as you explain, Mom, everybody knows the colours and complexity result from solar winds disturbing the magnetosphere. It’s a scientific process whereby electrons and protons interact with the neutral atoms of the earth’s upper atmosphere.
Instead, let’s drive north, escape the city lights, and watch nature sweep her paintbrush across the sky. I should have woken you long ago. Too much time has been wasted on sleep.
Remember the story I’ve been telling you since the dawn of your birth? Back when days stretched like desert sands blowing toward eternity. One day, you, a rainbow twinkle, burst over the floodgates and parasailed into the fertile basin of my womb. When you dropped your anchor, the copper tang of love exploded. Oh, what a rush! Love—a sultry tango, a boleo in my veins—transformed the muted colours of my existence into the scent of blazing blossoms. Obstacles pin-wheeled out of sight and the world whirred and almost caught fire! That is when your heart began to beat inside of me.
Stop saying you were the result of contraceptives gone wrong. My heart aches when you hand me statistics dripping with sarcasm, The year I was born, 111 526 women chose to abort. You could have added us to that statistic. Imagine how much easier your life would have been if I’d never been born.
Search my eyes and you will your first home. The best bits of my life have been the least planned—you were the surprise party I never expected, a lucky raffle ticket to a dream destination. You, my son, are the twinkle that saved me from the hard facts of this world. Your creation was a whirlwind chance, a wild roulette. It was magic.
Rachel Laverdiere is a language instructor and writer living on the Canadian prairies. Her poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction pieces are published in journals such as The New Quarterly, filling Station and FreeFall Magazine. Her flash fiction story was shortlisted for the Geist 2015 Short Long-Distance Writing Contest.