Adam kept his mother’s kisses in a blue jar under his bed.
He reached down, lifted the jar, turned the lid, felt the release, raised it a fraction and watched the kiss escape.
It landed on him in a flutter – like the silken hanky she kept in the pocket of her floral dress. She told him the flowers were spring creations.
Each year, as winter faded, she’d pull the dress from its layers of lemon-scented tissue paper and tell Adam more flowers had blossomed, that this Spring would be particularly beautiful.
Oh, how many times he’d tried to count those flowers, their complicated petal layers competing for his heart.
Adam sat on the side of the bed absorbing the peace the kiss brought, saw his mother’s face, not pale and wan as it was towards the end, but vibrant, sparkling, like when she walked with him through the woods, when she’d tried to understand him.
He’d started to run from the rain, but she’d tugged his shirt.
‘Feel the rain, my darling. Always, feel the rain.’
The drops had infiltrated the fiery hair strands attempting to escape the loose bun she’d scooped up to try to tame them, had run down her forehead and cheeks, trickling onto her shoulders, watering the flowers.
The blue petals had changed colour, become rainbow-like, more complex. That same day, Adam ignored a glance, a grin. He’d walked on, but looked back, briefly.
Adam slid from the bed to sit on the floor. Six jars sat in a line on the polished parquet. The jars didn’t need labels. The colours told her story, and his when she’d listened.
Walking outside, he felt his mother’s love fall in a satin veil from laden clouds. The wind sucked at him, pulling the darkness from within him, scattering. He felt the space it created, wanted to fill it with something new.
Kisses rained down, cloaking him, black with silver lining.
He recalled the young man in a pale blue shirt, khaki pants, whose hesitant lips on his felt cool, like paper.
A virgin membrane disturbed, shuddered, settled.
It was time. Time to reciprocate, with intent – a new journey.
He smiled and strode on, seeing only flowers. The invisible cloak enveloped him, soaked him through.
No more ignoring. No more looking back.
‘Do we need to keep these jars?’
The khaki pants are now flannels, the hair grey, the mouth as inviting as ever. He looks quizzically at Adam during their attempt at decluttering.
‘Yes,’ said Adam.
‘Yes, we do.’
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