Sunflowers on the Tip of Her Tongue – by Bobby Rollins (Adult)
She always bit her tongue when he annoyed her, not because she was on an involuntary path to sainthood, but because of the mantelpiece in her in-laws’ dining room, and more specifically the large framed photograph that hung above it. You couldn’t walk into the dining room or kitchen without seeing it, and each time you did, it was a rebuke, and a reminder that the hope of acceptance was one wish too many.
It was a family shot from thirty years ago, from before, and his parents refused to move it. “It’s who we are as a family,” his mother said both sadly and coldly. The photo showed the parents crouching and two kids, then aged 9 and 11, standing tall, with their four smiling faces centered in what looked like a grove of sunflowers, with a thicket of tall, green stems at their sides and backs, and bright yellow and orange flowers towering above, as if each petal dreamed of replacing the sun in the sky.
Nobody looked at the sunflowers in the picture anymore though, all eyes would freeze on her husband’s face, from before, when it was framed with braids and bright yellow ribbons, and a white summer’s dress with a matching sunflower pattern below. There were other childhood photos on display elsewhere in the house too, the two sisters holding their dolls, wearing matching dresses on a merry-go-round, or playing with kittens. Like the feelings behind them, the photos couldn’t be moved, and the reminders were everywhere.
Though they now had a grove of sunflowers in their own yard, and even had pictures of them posing in it hanging on their own walls, the memory of his family’s frames and the rejection captured within them was never really more than a thought away, and thus, halfway through the bite, the annoyance would suddenly seem trivial, and when her mouth opened, she found she could only speak words of love.