Nonfiction from Gracie Beaver-Kairis

Photo: Andrej Lišakov

Take Time to Stop and Wear the Roses

The floral patterns have begun to bloom. I see them dangling suggestively from the end-caps of aisles at Target or Walmart while I rush by, my arms full of frozen dinners, a scarf twisted over my nose and mouth. I take them in like I’m guiltily speed reading, their bright springtime hues a jarring, welcome contrast to the Pacific Northwest drizzle. I want to ply the cheap fabric between my fingertips at my leisure, judge the poppies for being too garish or the irises for not being the perfect shade of blue to compliment my eyes. I want to hoist an armful of them and retreat into a 4×4 foot room and put them on one by one. Different flowered skins with all the time in the world.

I want to hold in my stomach and listen to the satisfying zing of the zipper sliding up my side while I imagine this A-line skirt transforming me into the most beautiful girl at a party (remember those?). The sun shines on my bare arms and I smile charmingly at someone’s anecdote that isn’t about death tolls or capitalism or mortgage forbearance or unemployment rates or how she took up decoupage in an attempt to stave off madness. At this party, where I am the prettiest, everything is okay, and that isn’t a lie.

But there’s no time to wonder how an orange lily jumpsuit might flatter my curves because I’m too busy treasure hunting for bare necessities, my paranoia building at the slightest sniffle from a stranger. I’m grabbing frozen tater tots at breakneck speed. I’m second guessing my every move as non-essential, risky, stupid, dangerous. I’m using the words “braved it” to talk about buying tampons, like I’ve survived a grueling tour of duty with nothing but a can-do attitude, Purell, and strategic breathing. I took for granted shopping without guerrilla tactics. No critical mission.

My closet at home bursts with the flowers of summers past. I’m surrounded by the detritus of before, things I wore to concerts, or staff meetings, or haircuts. Even if I wanted to shed them and become a late passenger on the bandwagon of sparking joy, Goodwill won’t take potentially contaminated COVID cardigans. Consumed by claustrophobia, everything looks frumpy. Pluck the petals off the hanger; I wore that on a day that a customer yelled at me.

I want something new. Something with possibility. A dress I can save for something special, because didn’t we used to have special things? We did, didn’t we? Didn’t we?

Nothing is new anymore. Same tired news and same tired threads as the season’s fresh flowers wilt on the rack.


Gracie Beaver-Kairis is a Pacific Northwest based writer. Her humor and satire work has appeared in The Belladonna Comedy, Slackjaw, Points in Case, and others. This is her first published creative non-fiction piece. Find her on Twitter @beaverkairis.

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