Honeysuckle Love
Author:S. Walden

“Me! I told you that I’m not afraid!”

 

“I know you’re not afraid.” She pulled away from her sister and bent down so that she was eye level with her. “I’ll hold it together, okay? You just be ten years old.”

 

“I’ll never be ten,” Beatrice hiccupped. “I was born an old lady.”

 

Clara laughed. “Yes, I know. But just try. And Bea?”

 

“Yes?”

 

Clara wiped a tear gliding down her sister’s round cheek. “Just please try to carry the card. You can swipe it really fast. People will think it’s a credit card and then you’ll be the epitome of cool.”

 

“What does ‘epitome’ mean?” Beatrice asked, the sound of a new word distracting her from her tears.

 

“The best example of,” Clara replied.

 

Beatrice drew in a long, ragged breath. “All right then. I’ll try.”

 

Clara left her sister alone to sulk in her bedroom. She heard the mournful sounds of Beethoven being played from her sister’s old CD player. Naturally Beatrice would pick that CD. Petulant girl, Clara thought. She forgot that in addition to no lights, there would be no music in the house soon. She walked out back because she couldn’t stand to hear the music in all its beautiful melancholy, pulling on her heart and making it ache with pleasure for its grandeur and pain for its impending absence.

 

She walked around the back yard of her grandmother’s house observing the mess. They hadn’t cleaned it for months. Once their grandmother passed away in early February, the house went into a state of disrepair, and fast. Their mother would clean the yard in the spring occasionally during her rare fits of mania. She would holler to the girls to come outside and help. They would spend their entire Saturday trimming and edging and weeding until the yard was in pristine condition. And then it would grow over and weed up and become an eyesore all over again.

 

Clara walked about the yard until she came to the honeysuckle grove. That’s what she and Beatrice called it. It was a corner section of the back yard overflowing with honeysuckle vines, and the girls started a tradition three years ago when they visited their grandmother. Those were the good years when their father was still around, they lived in a house of their own, their mother was working and happy. Their grandmother was still alive. Clara’s family never really had money, so vacations were rare. They went to Florida once, but mostly the girls were packed up and sent off to stay with Grandmom for a week or two. And it was there that they discovered the wonders of the honeysuckle vines.

 

Beatrice thought the vines held magical powers, that the flowers could grant wishes. The girls agreed on three because they always read or heard of genies granting three wishes. Beatrice said that the vines would grant their wishes but only if they respected the flowers. Say a wish, drink down the nectar. Never the reverse or their dreams would not come true.

 

Clara sat down among the vines, still green but tinged with yellow and no longer producing the fragrant flowers. She closed her eyes remembering the spring when her mother no longer smiled and was distant and sad.

 

 

 

“Come on, Clara!” Beatrice called from the back door. “Before they all dry up!”

 

“I’m coming, Bea,” Clara said. “And they won’t dry up.”

 

She followed her sister out the back door to the overgrown garden on the edge of the property. The honeysuckle vines had crept into the empty flowerbeds and inched their way up the trucks of nearby oak trees. Bees and butterflies danced around the flowers, resting and nursing, then buzzing and fluttering again evoking the quintessential springtime picture. Beatrice plopped down at the edge of a flowerbed overflowing with yellow trumpet-shaped flowers and beckoned her older sister to follow suit. Clara settled herself beside Beatrice and reached for a flower.

 

“No Clara,” Beatrice reprimanded. She slapped her sister’s hand.

 

“Ouch!” Clara replied indignantly, but Beatrice ignored her.

 

“Three wishes first, Clara. You know the rules,” Beatrice said.

 

Clara drew in her breath and exhaled slowly.

 

“I’ll go first,” Beatrice said. “I wish that Mom would be happy again.” She promptly plucked a flower and sucked the juices from its base.

 

“You took my first one,” Clara said.

 

“Make up another,” Beatrice replied. “You’ve got to have a million wishes in your head.”

 

“Fine,” Clara said. “I wish for school to be over soon.” She reached for the flowers.

 

“No, Clara,” Beatrice said. “It has to be something important and special. A wish you’ve thought about and care about. You know the rules,” she stated for the second time.

 

Clara sighed. “Fine. I wish to make a nice friend at school next year.” She waited a moment, but Beatrice did not object, so she reached for a flower, plucked it, then drained it of its silky sugar.

 

“Are you excited about being a junior next year, Clare-Bear?” Beatrice asked.