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both sides now

Updated: Jan 16

Aidah Fredlund - December 6, 2023

Artwork by - Ryan Purciful

September 7th, 7:37 am.

A girl sits on the roof, thinking about her day.

Sunrises. The dark blue, clashing harshly with the yellow and orange rays of the new day. The pinks and purples along the horizon, gently bringing the morning. The transition from night to day, moon to sun, old to new.

Lola’s eyes drift from the sun to the flowers that her grandma sent her that morning. White daisies. She left the attached note downstairs, but she already has the cursive words on the light pink paper memorized like her favorite song.

My dear Lola,

Happy birthday, my dear! This is a big year for you, your 18th in this world. Like a butterfly coming out of its cocoon, like the sun rising, you have grown and flourished—just like my love for you. You learn more and more every day. I’m praying for this year to be the best one so far, and for them to only get better.

- Grandma Alma ♥

P.S. Don’t let your mother see that chocolate, she’ll take all of it!

Giggling at the recollection, Lola picks up the chocolate bar, breaking one of the squares off and nibbling it. She can feel the golden warmth on her skin, slightly melting the chocolate in her fingers. The day has already begun, meaning her friend Claire is going to be over soon.

She sends one more glance at the sun, moving slowly up to its highest point, slightly covered by the morning clouds.

Lola always liked sunrises. Before now, she had never seen herself in one, but it makes senseher love for new beginnings, her affinity to start over when anything goes wrong, her love for the morning.

And like a sunrise, she rises.

September 7th, 7:37 pm.

A woman sits in a garden, thinking about her death.

Sunsets. The vibrant orange of the sun slowly fading into the warm pinks and purples. The light blue, melting darker and darker as the night stretches on, bringing the moon and stars with it.

Alma glances around herself, at the flowers and butterflies that fill the greenhouse. A butterfly, which lives the first half of its life as a worm on the floor, shooed away by everyone around it, shunned and detested. A butterfly, which emerges from a cocoon, loved by everyone around it, admired and appreciated. Alma thinks of herself like the latter, growing and glowing with every new experience, every new year added to her long life.

Now, though, she can feel her life coming to a close. It’s not like she hasn’t been expecting it, she definitely has. She’s even okay with it—to a certain degree. She doesn’t want to die, but she understands that it’s her time to go.

As she sits amid the greenery of the nursing home, she realizes that she was wrong in thinking she was a butterfly, already full grown. At this moment, she feels more like the caterpillar, waiting for its newest adventure.

Alma always liked sunsets. Before now, she had never seen herself in one, but it makes sense—her habit to go to sleep when things went wrong, her love for closing out chapters like a book.

And like a sunset, she falls.

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