Discover more from Small Stories with Laura Pashby
It’s raining, I’m driving my youngest son to football, and the dandelions are beaming in the verges — gold like the sun.
For a brief period in April, their yellow heads appear everywhere — most cheerful, plentiful and unassuming of flowers. I wonder that we dismiss them as weeds, when they shine so bright. I love them now — happy pops of spring — and I will love them still when their petals fade, giving way to the gossamer whirls of seedhead clocks which dance in the day, glow in the evening, and send seeds drifting like wishes.
Lately, I’ve been feeling tormented by time. It ordinarily moves quietly on in the background and I’m so busy that I don’t stop to think or notice. But it’s been tugging at me, nudging me, making itself known. I glimpse the smudge of it as it rushes mercilessly away from me. When I stand before the mirror, I observe its marks on my face.
I go out dancing, for the first time in years, letting the rhythm wash over me, succumbing with abandon to the music. I feel that I am both fully myself, and also somehow outside of myself. Immersed in waves of sound, I no longer notice the pressing of time — it is as if I have paused it, or stepped through it for a moment into who I once was. The ticking of the clock is drowned out by the thumping of the beat. Splinters of self float back to the surface, twisting up into the light.
I find myself squeezing behind the pale blue curtain of an analogue photo booth on a steep Paris street. In the years when I was young, this was always my favourite way to catch a moment, to celebrate a love. If I cared for you, I would pull you in with me onto the tiny stool, our heads pressed together. One, two, three, four flashes — the wait — and an exclamation of delight as the prints emerged. Never perfect, but always perfectly true, stashed away in purses or pockets and then blue-tacked to walls — this is us. Into the booth go first my husband and I, and then our three laughing boys. Time is pinned for an instant by these precious strips of pictures.
Once, when my youngest was little, I remember standing him in his grubby, striped dungarees — flaxen curls tucked beneath a blue sunhat — in the middle of a huge patch of dandelion flowers. I search my archives for a photograph and find him there, still toddling. On that day, he laughed and reached for the blooms closest to him, feeling their densely packed petals with his chubby fingers in bounteous delight. He plucked one, and sat down, holding it tight in his fist, as his brothers strung daisy chains and I closed my eyes — just for a minute — in the sunshine.
On my desk, I keep a framed postcard — a line from a Robert Frost poem. My son, almost ten now, dips his head into my study to call me for supper and reads it out loud in his small, clear voice:
‘Nothing gold can stay.’
Thank you for reading,
(With thanks tofor her Essay Camp, during which I wrote this piece. You can work through Essay Camp at any time and I highly recommend it.)