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I have a surprise for you, he calls out, again and again, a chant announced by the ring that follows the slam of the screen door. A ring like the one from the Tibetan meditation chimes I once had—where did they go? A gift from an old boyfriend who liked to leave and come back bearing gifts. He told me to listen to the ring until it faded to silence. When you couldn’t tell one from the other, you were supposed to hear God. Or something. I listened. I listen.

I have a surprise for you, his shoes with the thick rubber soles, the better to grip a skateboard, tapping an irregular tattoo on the stairs. Now he can take them one at a time, a march of triumph. I have a surprise for you, he holds out a fleshy ball of fist that smells of french fries and dirt, almost forgets to open it, to reveal the surprise.

The surprise is always crushed jacaranda blossoms, scooped from the yard. It is the season they fall, leaving the lawn frosted with a garish embarrassment of lavender. The flowers are nearly pulp, pressed into the grime in the creases of his palm. It’s for your hair, he says, and if it breaks, I will go out there and get you another. He points into the day, nearly gone. Out there, he repeats. An adventurer. One who makes outlandish promises.

How long before he learns that blossoms from the ground are already broken? Before he learns what a surprise really is? Before he brings me no blossoms at all?

They’re for your hair, he says, as he tilts the shy wilt of purple into my hand.

In all the long forgetting of my days, if I could cut a swatch from the fabric of my time and take it with me for my shroud—Wrap me in this.

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