The landscape of her childhood had been picked clean; long ago cleared of all memories- good and bad. Now, some thirty years later, memories poked through weak spots in her consciousness, like weeds do in the weeks following a soaking rain.
She had been strolling along the banks of the Rio Grande. Before long, she walked through the weeds that reminded her of wheat stalks. Pieces worked their way into her socks and poked the soft skin on the side of her ankles, rubbing against her tennis shoes with every step.
She had felt this discomfort before.
She sat in a nearby clearing and removed her shoe, just as she had done many times, many years ago. With her forefinger and thumb, she pulled at the fluffy stickers. She set each of them on the ground beside her in an evenly spaced row. A flicker of recognition, dread washed over her just as it had that day when his footsteps drew near.
Her heart pounded as she remembered her refusal of his help. He insisted.
Just then, a gust of wind blew through the trees and swirled the dirt around her into a dust devil. She closed her eyes to the grit and didn’t open them until the winds calmed again.
A smile crept across her face. She remembered the first time she’d seen a dust devil. She had stared in awe at the swirling mass of dirt and leaves. Defying gravity, the debris remained suspended for what seemed like five minutes, mesmerizing her into a trance.
It was only now, all these years later, that she learned to appreciate the beauty of a rooted weed.