a lack of tulips
by Maw Shein Win


                                    All human activity is prompted by desire.
                                                      -Bertrand Russell

the rabbit left her. left her desirous of rich cakes and fuzzy sweaters. it was easter that day and rabbits filled the boulevard. there was a pink hue to the air and cheeks were flushed a rose-pink as well. were chocolate eggs in abundance? no! she wanted chocolate like any kid. the rabbit hopped right on by.

when i was ten years old, i did not like boys and they did not like me. gilbert would dunk my head underwater at swimming lessons after school. i would hold the bubbles inside until i thought i would burst. he had a sort of lust in his eyes, although neither of us knew what lust was. apparently, gilbert had never seen nor smelled a tulip. in fact, he disliked easter and would crush everyone's eggs on the school hunt.

cooking was a release for all the frustrations in her life. her name was carlotta and she had married at 19 to an american g.i. he brought her to glendale, california. they had a fishtank in their small living room and she watched the fish, green mandarins and copperband butterflies, swim circles late into the night.

at the age of 25, she worked for meager wages in the library of a fashion school. young students would check out books on jean-paul gaultier or the spring issue of italian vogue. she would eavesdrop on their conversations about hairspray and silk swatches. tulips did not grow nor sway on her kitchen sill. she spent many a day comparing her lack of tulips to their abundance of tulips.

rabbits are strong-willed and charismatic. because of their soft fur (pleasureable to touch) and seemingly gentle eyes, they are considered the pacifists of the animal kingdom. she continued, the most devastating rejection for me was on that easter day. there was melted chocolate on his fur and whiskers. when it began to rain, i ran home ...

at first, i didn't want to see a therapist. but when i 'lost it' four easters ago, smashing all the glass in the windows, sleeping with every peter rabbit i met, and sobbing to my sister on the phone—it was agreed that there was a definite 'lack of tulips' in my life.

carlotta's husband has been in sacramento for four days, when he was only supposed to be there for two. she wonders, she eats. he, on the other hand, is rapidly moving (up and down, up and down). carlotta calls into the fan, breathes onto the surface of the fishtank. bags of small red potatoes, brown baking potatoes line the kitchen floor. growing ears, they listen to her talk.

i told my therapist about gilbert. how i will someday drive back to sparks, nevada. wearing my sunglasses in a toyota, burning hotly in the desert. i don't tell her about the image of a small black pistol by my side. i lie awake at 3 a.m. picturing this. consider the results. all these years, you thought i hated you, didn't you? well, i was young then, are you listening? or, i storm into his house. his youngest daughter is dying of cancer. gilbert's eyes streaming. my pistol falls to the floor. or, he is a truck driver for green's beans, spies me nearing the carson county line and runs me off the side. i burst into gorgeous flames.

plants need light to grow. rooms need light to think. cakes think best in rooms. potatoes stir underground. does she need chocolate to grow or does he want chocolate to think? when she was running down the boulevard, the heat from the cement came up through her sandals. her feet were rabbits flattening tulips. if she had only known at that time to be careful of this. but she ate chocolate eggs by the handful, lacking passion. light, she took for granted.

the floor is rusty red. a woman slicing potatoes has sliced the earth open. a tulip is at the center of the earth and it is made of dark chocolate. she peers into the tulip, admiring its deepness. calm, unlike a party.


Return to An Anthology of Bay Area Women Writers