Growing Down

You were the type of person to wait until I died to give me flowers. You were the type of person to embrace a rotting corpse with more ease than you ever did a living soul. Maybe I was just a decoration, more adorned than ever adored; a pretty girl that died to become an even prettier flower vase. Flowers die, you’d tell me. And baby, we’re forever.

You were a gardener by profession. You dug up the earth under spaces I used to occupy. Even now, you are still digging. Dirt and mildew stain the undersides of your fingernails that scratch at the ground with such a ferocity people often mistake it for you missing me. People ask about me, but you’re half-distracted and still digging. You talk about how pretty my skin was, how cute you found my nose, how I always looked at you like I needed saving. Digging.

As you unearth the last few feet between me and the sunlight, your face contorts with concentration. Sweat drips from your furrowed brow and I gag from the taste of salt it leaves in the earth. You stop for a second and flick the hair out of your eyes; you think about how you called me buttercup, about how you planted ivy in the cracks between my ribs, and remark how amazing it is that beautiful things can still grow in the darkest places. Digging. I was tethered to you.

You always said the most important step before growing anything beautiful was preparing the soil. We would wake up at dawn, I would hold your pick-axe, and we would trudge out into the hazy morning. You liked how the fog stung your eyes awake. I had never seen anyone take such pleasure in disfigurement. The rains felt strangely acidic right before you burrowed the ground and right before you got into bed with me.

Did you love me? Or did you love me not? My fingertips turned raw after years of picking daisies.

Flowers are beautiful and they die and that’s fine because things don’t need to grow forever. Not all growth is good. Sometimes growth is infestation, colonization. Sometimes you bulldoze over the best parts (of land, of bodies) in order for something else to grow. All I wanted was goddamn flowers. I am sick of being hollow.

I am sick of feeling like there is something so bad in me that I need to be exhumed before something good can exist. Acid rain can’t make things grow if it’s acid. I’m not truly growing if I have to be tethered to you. There is a difference between growing with someone and growing on someone and you can only burrow so much before the foundation cracks.

A couple months into knowing you, I started sleeping with the covers over my head. Maybe I hated the acid rain, or maybe I was practicing for when you finally gave me flowers.  

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