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day nineteen

the language of flowers, pajamas, a secret passageway.

When you gave me a book on the language of flowers, my name written in cursive at the back of the cover, I thought you were confessing your love to me.

You marked a single page with my favorite flower, that smell of sweet pea still distinct in the air. I didn’t think twice about it, even flip through the pages once to understand that flower’s meaning.

I was a curious girl, but you took that away.

My head was filled with so much “you” that nothing else mattered.

So when I didn’t see you the next morning, or for the rest of that week, I thought that book was only a token of your appreciation for my feelings.

I thought made it clear enough that I liked you.

And maybe your response was to give me one last thing wordlessly before dropping me altogether.

I can’t tell you how it felt.

It’s too complicated to explain.

You know, people believe they can just sum up a single emotion in one word, but it’s not true. All of what I felt towards you didn’t fit into four measly letters. All of what I felt when you left didn’t fit in that tiny three-letter word.

What I wanted to tell you could encompass the whole universe for all it cared and that still wouldn’t be enough.

I wish I could go back in time, maybe reach out, let our fingers brush against each other just once when we stared out into the endless ocean. I wish I could’ve looked at you longer, the navy matching the darkening sky like there were mirrors in your irises. I wish I could pull you close, our breaths mixing, my heart thumping.

Tell you I love you.

Tell you how much every little piece of you meant to me.

But I never did it. I never was bold enough to muster enough strength to do that. All I could do was drop subtle hints, hoping deep down that you’d notice.

I’m still not sure whether or not you truly did.

But that book on the language of flowers is still on my desk, untouched since you parted. There’s almost a thin layer of dust on it from a week of neglect.

I don’t know what makes me finally go to it, my hands reaching out, tips of my fingers grazing the cover like it might turn to ashes. And when I flip to that page with the sweet pea, now pressed dry, my eyes catch the few words across the page.

"thank you for a lovely time."

And at the margins, you’ve written something in your curling handwriting, the letters swirling into the next.

I don’t even have to finish reading it to understand.

Still in my pajamas, I’m bolting to that spot we’ve passed by countless times, the book pressed against my chest. And I’m out of breath, not because I’m running but because I can see you again — I can see you again and, oh god, I don’t know why it took me so long.

Just behind that wall of sweet peas, when I duck down below the overhang and pull open that hidden wooden door, is you, smiling. And you’re holding a bouquet of ambrosia, but I don’t even know how to respond, so I’m flipping through the book again with unsteady legs and trembling fingers.

And I realize that I was right all along; that you did confess your love when you gave me that book.

And that it really did take me that long to notice.

~ e.h.

note: ambrosia means "your love is reciprocated."

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