Sixty Five Roses

She thought that maybe, if she held her breath long enough, she’d simply lift off the ground and float away, a tiny dot like the bright red of a balloon lost at a summer picnic against the perfect pale blue of the sky. That she’d be able to fly.

She wanted to fly more than anything. Arms reaching toward the heavens, she would jump on the trampoline, flinging her body higher each time. “Look at me, Mommy!”

Sitting on the swing, letting the warm air caress me, I smiled.

I watched her when she couldn’t breathe. How her eyes got big, hands tugging for mine. And it broke my heart every time, when air returned to her, she told me, “I almost flew that time!”

She was my sixty-five roses girl. Because somehow, hiding behind pretty words, it didn’t sound so terrible.

When she finally flew, it was without me. To somewhere I couldn’t follow. Fingers threaded through mine, she finally held her breath long enough, while my tears spotted her shirt.

And around her trampoline, I planted sixty five beautiful red roses.

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