in a heartbeat
Valentine’s day, twenty-three years ago, was the first time I gave you flowers. You were ten, same as me.
I didn’t know I’d do it when I got up that morning, not until Jessie hit the ball over Mrs. McGinley’s fence. I went after it, climbing over the new fence boards. I ripped my jeans on a nail and cussed a streak knowing mom would give me an ear full when I got home. The ball was half hidden under some wild flowers. A whole planter full. So many that if some went missing, no one would know the difference.
I came back later, after dark, sneaking close to the garage. I cut as many flowers as I could bundle in my hands, my mom’s fabric scissors so sharp I snipped my finger. My heart pounded hard enough the whole neighborhood could hear. It was worth it––all of it.
You kissed me once, behind the tool shed. You closed your eyes but not me, I kept watching you until your face went blurry and your lips touched mine. My heart stopped then too. Everything stopped, even Jessie’s damn dog stopped his yapping. That’s worth something right? I mean, right then, it meant everything. I’d have given you more than flowers if I could have…