By Scarlett Mosher, TIWP Student
I haven’t written to her in over a year.
And I really should, but the letter sits blank on my desk, and has for months. At this point, it feels like a betrayal to myself to sit down and start writing. Why break my streak and sit among the emotional wreckage, scrawling words I’ll only regret onto the curling paper. And it’s not that I don’t like my daughter. Of course I do. But it’s exactly why I can’t write this letter. Because what would I even put on it? She lives worlds away. I live on a little hillside in a town too unknown to name. She married a different man. The only ring I have around my finger are the little nuts and bolts I hold as I crank my sink tighter, trying to stop the flooding into the little kitchen. She oversees millions. There aren’t even any secretary jobs in my town.
Her life moves on.
Mine is stagnant.
But how can you blame me? The only change here is the changing of leaves, and the neighborhood kids we hire to sweep them up. In her city, a thousand new faces pass her every day, and a thousand new lives morph for the better or worse. She lives in castle by comparison, warm with the huddled bodies of the hundred other bodies that line her kingdom. I only catch a glimpse of the neighbor’s house, if the weather permits me to. I’m not sure if anyone still lives there anymore.
I pondered writing her yesterday, while I was out tending my flower box, moving the blooming pansies over the daisies that had wilted in the southern sun. I could bring them back, but I’m too occupied with this unwritten letter.
All mothers love their children, and those who don’t cannot be considered mothers. Of course, like everything, another issue arises. I love my daughter so much my heart overflows, spilling its thick red drops from between my teeth and onto the page. It’s messy and not at all reinforcing the idea of a loving mother I’ve worked so hard to build. It makes me seem more like a jilted lover, left alone under the canopy of rotting blue wood.
I force myself to stand at the desk. It’s situated next to the window, where the sill holds a box of wilting flowers. They keel over, spilling their crumpled petals onto the wood like a bird, molting to reveal a stark naked body beneath.
I look at the flowers. Then back at the letter.
It took a lot for me to move from Olympus. I was more comfortable there. Servants waited on my every step and I wasted away the days chatting with the women, our hands finding themselves either aghast at our chests or folded neatly in our laps. I can’t even recognize my own hands now. The dirt has built up and clogged every crease and line, marbling my hands into swirls of brown and tan.
But I couldn’t be so high up there. It just put more distance between us. So I took up residence in the most remote place I could find. And I’ll admit it’s lonely, but knowing that she’s just below me, her heart beating somewhere in the depths of the earth, is oddly comforting.
I find myself leaning over the edge of the flower box, moving my hand over the wilted flowers. They rise as my palm passes over them, their stalks turning greener than autumn grass, and the white petals twisting into perfect little buds.
Her one complaint about her husband’s kingdom was the fact that they could never have flowers—not real ones, anyway. Flowers needed sunlight to bloom, and in the underworld they were the furthest thing from Apollo’s fiery breath.
I merely dismissed her when she first told me.
But a mother’s love is never shown through large, paramount gestures. It’s through the small things, the little things they’ll probably never remember but will stick with them forever, a building block of the person they’ll become.
And so I determined that these flowers would never spread themselves open, lustful for Apollo’s touch. No. These flowers would worship Diana. They would open themselves up only to her glittering black gown, and marvel at her pale, pockmarked face.
They had no need for sunlight. My Moonflowers would be willing servants only to the darkness.
With careful hands I plucked a single flower from the bed, shaking the dirt out. It finds a new bed in the parchment, wrapped and sealed with grain-embedded wax.
It’s dusk by the time I’m greeted by the moans of the door, swinging out into the dusk sky. I hear Apollo yawn somewhere in the distance, and for a second I ponder what I’m about to do.
But my feet find themselves moving down the rickety steps, taking a couple strides across the gravel path until I reach its end. There, in the parched dirt, I set down the letter.
With one finger, I dip into the dirt. My hand lifts and starts to write on the paper in dirt, the lines clearing themselves up as I stare in concentration.
Finished, I turn my palm to the top of the letter, pressing it into the dirt. I watch as my little Moonflower disappears into the crumbling ground.
Now, my Persephone will have her flowers. And I, her mother, will have my own, ones that I will share to the rest of the world to remind them of my love for her.
For she is my Moonflower, and I her moon.