from Wild Thoughts: A Floral Guide to Feeling by Garrett Huon

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She’s holding a pack of diapers, walking back up the hill from CVS. There’s a slight discomfort, if only because it’s hot and the plastic cover keeps sticking to the underside of her arm. And really she should have volunteered her brother to do this run because the heat is making her sweat so much that the back of her shirt is nearly drenched. He’s probably still playing games on the couch. At least he would have capitalized on the opportunity to buy something with their uncle’s money other than the necessary 32-pack of diapers. She didn’t buy anything. Should have gone to Starbucks.

By the time she gets back to her aunt’s house, the plastic hurts to remove from where it’s fused with her skin. Her family is still situated in the living room with the TV playing travel shows in the background. Setting the diapers on the coffee table, she reclaims her seat on the couch next to her brother who doesn’t even look up from his little console. Her dad is holding his new niece. Her mom is talking to her aunt about the baby. It’s a quiet affair, and she is not complaining. The sun sucked what little energy she had. Days like this are meant to be spent with the cool support of air conditioning.

Her uncle grabs the diapers and says, “Thank you for picking this up.”

“No problem.” She goes to grab the change from her pocket, but he shakes his head.

“Keep it. Think of it as a tip.” Then he walks away before she can say anything else.

They stay for another hour relaxing until the baby really needs to be laid down for a nap, but she gets to hold her before then. Gets to look at the softness in the baby’s features, the unopened eyes, the curled fingers. It feels like she weighs nothing at all.

But the change is burning a hole in her pocket.

Normally she wouldn’t feel bad about keeping the money. After all, five dollars probably means more to her than her aunt and uncle. Maybe it’s because she’s older now or because she knows what it’s like to want something, need something, and not be able to afford it herself. Maybe it’s because she’s nineteen-going-on-twenty and living away from home. She looks at her new cousin, the little bean-shaped human and sees how great the future will be for her.

When they leave, she lays the leftover five dollars on the table without really thinking about it.