She stood at my front door every Monday at 7AM with a bouquet of purple flowers. Hyacinths, she told me once, and she had said that they meant she was sorrowful over an event and she wanted forgiveness. Forgiveness, what a funny thought.
Of course, I never opened the door for her. And normally, I never spoke to her either, except for the one time when I had asked what the flowers were and what they meant.
She would wait at the door for exactly 17 minutes before leaving the bouquet, retreating down the front steps with a rueful smile and heels on fire from the sun’s beams. And before she wandered away down the concrete front walk, she would always press her fingers to her lips and blow a kiss to the door. Every single damn time.
I only watched her the first month. It had been January, two weeks after the accident, and two hours after she and I had both been let out of the hospital. The month of beginnings, but somehow the snow-coated roads made it feel like an ending.
After that first month, I had realized that since things weren’t going to change, there was no point in my watching and waiting for her to leave. In fact, I even changed around my morning routine on Mondays so that I wouldn’t even know that she’d come and gone, except for the hyacinths on the front step. I didn’t want to face her, you see. I didn’t want her to see the truth of the hatred in my eyes, the pain in the lines of my calves, the way in which I couldn’t wear skirts anymore out of embarrassment of the scars.
She still wore dresses, of course. She had the scars, same as me, but she walked like she knew the world was watching, like she knew the world was watching because it thought she was beautiful, not because she was broken. But I didn’t know how to wear beauty like that. I only knew how to wear humiliation and awkwardness, the awkwardness of a first date gone wrong, or a job interview that just wouldn’t end although it should have twenty minutes ago, even before I’d walked in the room. They should have seen my name and said, “No, no, not that one. Her handwriting looks like she’s frightened, like she’s always crouching, her shoulders rolled up instead of back, like she knows she doesn’t belong anywhere, like she knows that her friends are just people who happen to see her more than once in a day, like her self-consciousness is contagious.”
I often wondered if maybe she had friends. Or if the earnestness in her voice or the honesty of her heart kept people from being able to speak with her directly, to believe in her ability to deal with the realities of the world, to take care of her, or to trust that she would take care of them. There was just something in the wideness of her brown eyes that made everyone, me included, want to avoid eye contact. Like we wouldn’t be able to handle it if we went through with our instincts and just looked up.
Whenever I saw her, I always thought she looked like an animated character, someone more destined to be a magical girl than a real one. Maybe she thought she was magical, too, so the accident had come as a shock. She was supposed to be the one who could take care of the world, not wreck it into metal fragments and rubber rubble. I still remember her desperation through the haze of the aftermath, when she had found me in the car in front of hers and asked me what had happened, if I was okay, that she was sorry, that she didn’t remember how this could have happened, that she was so sure she had braked, begging for forgiveness even when I couldn’t speak enough to provide it or even ask for it. She wasn’t the one who had called 911, she hadn’t had a clue that help had already arrived. She thought that we were both dead in a dead wasteland, but I didn’t have the heart to tell her that this was the real world, this was what it had always looked like, and she had just never seen it without the petals of chrysanthemums and irises blurring her vision. Her mask of optimism had fallen, and now look at the damage, sister! It was all your doing from the start, little magical girl! You’re not so magical anymore!
Oh, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have yelled. Calm enough to continue? Why, of course, Doctor. Officer. Gentlemen.
It’s just that, when the windshield cracks, so does your vision.
She hadn’t realized that she was injured, too, so focused she was on getting help to me. Only later, when I asked the staff if she had gone to the hospital too, did I realize that she had needed help just as much as me. Maybe even more.
We both were in the hospital for the exact same length of time. Discharged at the very same nanosecond, even. And we both returned to the very same place – my house. Only she had stopped for the flowers.
So you understand, yes? I had no real contact with her. The flowers were nothing more than an anonymous gift, essentially, an ask for forgiveness that I never delivered upon.
I don’t believe in second chances, no.
Why? You sit in your big wooden chairs behind your big wooden desks and dare to ask why? She had skinned me alive. She had removed the skin straight from my bones and left the skeleton, she unplugged the hologram and left behind the girl, she removed the husk and left an even emptier husk behind. She caused this ruin, and now she must sleep in it. I don’t regret it. I don’t regret telling her so, too, straight to her face.
Fine, yes, I spoke to her last, probably. I had had enough of her Monday flowers and my Tuesday regrets and my Wednesday curiosity and my Thursday Friday Saturday forgetfulness and my Sunday anticipation. I hated how I waited. For her. How my Monday morning routine somehow revolved around her, even when I had purposefully changed my ways so as not to see her. I covered up my mirrors, boarded up my windows, and hid away in my rocking chair, but still she wormed her way back, and I didn’t want her back.
So I got rid of her. I confronted her, told her that I didn’t believe in second chances, told her that I hated how she’d exposed my organs to the world and left me for worse than dead.
She cried that day. I’d actually never seen her cry before, she hadn’t cried at the accident, merely whined and sighed and made all manner of noises while I squinted my eyes tightly shut and waited for the end. Or for help. I hoped for the former, and got the latter, and sister, am I mad about it.
But that day, she cried. Did I break her? No, of course not. She could never be broken. I still think that.
After that confrontation, the flowers stopped. No more girl at the front door, no more purple. No more hyacinths.
I thought that she was dead, and I figured that that was better than the alternative. You know, being alive and having everyone know it.
What’s worse than death? The truth. The mortifying ordeal of being known, but being known to the entire world, without ever having a say in it. And yes, she did it. So yes, I did it back – How did she do it? She shattered my windshield! Just check your silly police reports, your angry men wrote it all down while I was breathing through a tube. So many tubes at hospitals. I didn’t know that your body could just be replaced by them. That all its work could be done by plastic.
But she was behind me, I said? Well, I don’t know how she did it, I just know that she did. She shattered me—My windshield, yes.
Your accident reports say – what? No, no that’s impossible. I heard her voice. I saw her. With my own eyes, yes! She had eyes just like mine, you see. Brown ones. Brown eyes, black curly hair, brown skin. Like mine, yes, exactly.
You doubt my description? She brought me flowers every week for nearly a year! I saw her frequently the first month, none the rest of the time, and once that final confrontation. I’m not sure how many times that is, but surely, it’s a lot, yes?
Yes, thank you. The water helps the throat. I should have given her water that final time I saw her. She didn’t speak that time. I thought it was because she knew it was over, but maybe she just had a sore throat that day, needed some water. And time to clear her head.
I just yelled at her. I screamed at her, “Why, why did you do this? Why did you leave me like this? Couldn’t you have done something different? I can’t forgive you. I refuse. I don’t believe in second chances! Get out, get away!” The bystanders thought I was a screaming, crazy women, whose words couldn’t be trusted, but she understood. She knew that I meant what I said and that was that. I had such a presence when I was younger, a presence that made people believe in me, and I had lost that because of her, but somehow she still saw it in me. So then she left.
And I…I never saw her again.
No, gentlemen, I don’t need time. I had a year. Now I’m telling you my story. Don’t mock. I know you boys make fun behind the backs of the women, but surely this time – no it’s true! I spoke to her! It was Monday, December 17th, an 8 day.
Well, in numerology, 8 can represent many things – both emotional ups and downs. Changing fortunes.
December 17th was not a Tuesday, I can assure you. Fine, yes, believe what you want, but hear me out!
No, there wasn’t only one car and a tree. There were two! I know, I know for sure! She – she was like a part of me. She had to exist. I didn’t make her up. I didn’t kill her, she’s still around, she just stopped coming because I told her to stop, to—please, stop! What are you doing? Where are you taking me? Who are you calling? My sister? I have no sister, I am alone. I am an only child. Ah, my cousin. Yes, well she will be surprised to get a call from Earth when she is in heaven, won’t she? Do I have no one else, you ask, exasperated? Of course not! I had only her, and I sent her away! I sent her away to rot, because I needed her to rot, because I couldn’t look in the mirror and see her anymore!
Fine. Maybe there was just one car and a tree. But there may as well have been a second. And the second cloaked the first, and when the second shattered, the first was ruined. The first had nowhere to hide.
So that’s why I hate her.
That’s why there are 44 purple bouquets sitting on my front step. Another 8. 4 plus 4 equals 8.
No. No forgiveness. I don’t believe in second chances, gentlemen. You of all people should know that.
I hate purple hyacinths. And I hate her – me.
I can never forgive that part of me for breaking.