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When I was a little girl I lived off a white rock road, in a three-bedroom manufactured home, where the neighbors played their music a little too loud and drove a little too fast. Food stamps paid for our meals and we bought our clothes from thrift stores before it became a trend. It’s easy to say that we lived well below the poverty line.

One summer my mom decided to plant rose bushes. She bought these special hybrid rose bushes that were supposed to be blue. Because blue roses were my grandma’s favorite. I remember the sound of the shovel cutting into the ground. The way she breathed as she labored over these flowers. Her freckles glowed in the sunshine, garden hose in her hand as she’d glance over at me where I sat swinging my legs off the edge of the porch.

When they bloomed, they were the most wonderful yellow color, kissed with an edge of pink, like the beginnings of a sunset. This was the first moment I understood why people loved receiving flowers so much. My mother had poured her heart and soul into these blooms.

I waited more than ten years for someone to gift me with flowers. I was completely in love with the boy who walked into my work with a vase full of yellow roses. It was in the honeymoon phase of our relationship where everything he did was straight out of a romance novel. I remember seeing the smile on my mom’s face when I brought them home, her blue eyes glowed with a knowing look. I stroked my hand over the roses paired with little white forget-me-nots.

I don’t remember when he stopped giving me flowers. In the same way that I don’t remember exactly when he started gaslighting me or when he went from being protective to being possessive. I remember waiting around for him to buy me flowers. For him to remember to love me.

Then one day, long after we’d broken up, I thought why am I waiting for someone else to get me flowers? I deserve flowers. I am worthy of flowers. Why should I be waiting around for others to validate what I already know? Each week now I go to Kroger’s and find a bright bouquet of flowers. Take it back to my dorm room and lovingly trim and arrange the flowers into two vases. Well, I say vases but I have one vase and one mug in the shape of the Mandalorian’s helmet that I put flowers in. But this act of love is what I do for myself. Because I am worthy of them.

Arianna is Texas raised. A junior at Stephen F. Austin in the creative writing department. Having had publications in the charity chapbook Remedy of Water, the proceeds donated to the California wildfires.
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