It’s raining in the strawberry patch. A light drizzle on a warm spring day, enough to make the world a softer place.
My bangs are plastered against my forehead, and my basket is already several shades into a darker brown. I’m careful of where I step; there’s strawberries everywhere, and if there aren’t strawberries, there are worms breaking through the surface to breathe. I think I hear a cardinal singing.
I think I could live my whole life inside a moment like this.
The air is sweet and soft and kind, and it brushes lightly against my cheek. I swear it whispered to me a wish I’d made when I was nine. The memory gives me an old smile, one I haven’t used in so, so long.
The strawberries are bright red, and they are warm from the sun but cool from the rain. The small ones are the sweetest I’ve ever had and the big ones linger on my tongue long after they’re gone. I drop them in my basket, vivid color against the rich brown wood. Of course, I eat some of them too, because eating them is just as much a part of picking berries as filling the basket. And nothing tastes as good as strawberries picked in the rain.
Near the edge of the patch there’s a smooth cherry branch, dropped from its tree and resting on top of the strawberry leaves, a single pink blossom still clinging to the end. It’s a perfect fit in my hand, and the air wraps around me when I pick it up, whispering old memories once again.
A wish for butterflies that hold a candlelight glow.
A wish for friendship with birds to know.
A wish for every hope, to hope stronger.
It pauses to listen, it always has. I smile and whisper back, A wish for this moment to linger a while longer.
A breeze picks up, just enough to rustle the trees and kiss my cheek. The scent of strawberries fills the air, as if they’d all burst at once. The misty rain pauses a moment, droplets floating mid-air, and they sparkle like magic.
I hear whispers all around, and they are telling me, we listened, we remember. The strawberry plants nod in a flurry of greens. Wishes take time, and we have gathered enough time for you, for now, for this.
The rain falls again, but even lighter than before. The strawberry leaves are still fluttering, and somewhere amongst them rise hundreds of delicate glowing wings. There are a few that land on me, butterflies wrapped in pulsing candlelight, and where they land they warm my rain-soaked skin.
I hear a robin sing close by, and it is joined by the cry of a blue jay. Somewhere in the distance I can hear crows singing their throaty chorus. There’s a flapping of wings, and a bluebird lands on my wrist. It looks up at me, and its eyes hold the kind of trust I never see in birds. It doesn’t flinch when I reach out to touch its feathers. I think I could have cried. Perhaps I did.
The very last of a breeze brushes over my shoulder, and I hear the faded remains of its voice. Look, and it is so quiet I hear it beside my heartbeat, one last gift before we go. The butterflies lift, parting enough to point me the right way.
Standing in the patch, holding a basket that has deepened a few shades deeper brown, I see a boy with auburn hair plastered against his forehead. He’s looking up at the butterflies, their warm light reflecting in his eyes. I walk to him, and he turns to me with a smile, like we’ve known each other for years.
Hello, I say, and a cardinal lands on my shoulder.
Hello, he answers, and he holds out his hand. I moved here a few days ago. Want to pick strawberries with me?
I say yes, and we shake on it. A lark sings somewhere behind me. The moment lingers, and time does not hurry, and we pick strawberries in the misty spring rain under the candlelight glow of butterfly wings.