By Evelyn Pena

“Copa de Oro”, is what my Grandma used to say when we’d pass wild poppies on the highway when I was younger. The literal translation is Cup of Gold, the official flower of the state of California. The fascinating thing about these flowers is that their delicate petals close during sundown and won’t open up again until the break of day.  California Poppies had once always brought me joy, but that was a long time ago … After the recent drought lifted in California, poppies were emerging everywhere. It was an official sign that the drought was over and people celebrated by uploading picturesque posts on Instagram.

 So here I was, sitting with Ryan in the middle of one of these poppy fields, a little flabbergasted. We had walked hand in hand up a winding trial to a bench at the top of the hill.  We’d been here two years before yet there was about one poppy every few yards. This time, there were an abundance of them and the conversation was different.

“How come you refused?” Ryan said quietly.

The bitter wind was whipping my long hair all around my face. I put my hood over my head. I could feel the skin on my nose freezing up from the blasts of icy air. I thought about the way this past year has been. My depression, our tears, our qualms, our disputes, his lies. . .

I wrapped my arms around myself. My foot was tapping the ground. I looked around, there were no cups of gold. The poppies were closed, like they were holding themselves. Swaying rapidly in the breeze, as if they were dancing to keep warm. The sun was barely rising and the sky was grey with a hint of gold.

“We’ve gone through so much this year and there is a lot to forgive,” my eyesight started to blur, “there is much that I still haven’t forgiven.” I blinked and a frosty tear rolled down my cheek. I looked over at Ryan, his eyes were red and swollen. There were fresh tear tracks running down his cheek into his beard. His back hunched over and hands in his sweater pockets. The smile that he always wore was nowhere insight. His soft brown eyes looked up at me, he resembled a miserable lost puppy. It was the most I had seen him cry in the past eight years that we’ve known each other.

“How can you just shed one tear, and that’s it?” questioned Ryan, his face pouting.

I shrugged, “I just can’t cry right now.” I thought about how I cried myself to sleep the other night. I looked away from his gaze to the sunrise. The dark grey clouds hung over the endless orange speckled poppy field. Finally, I was able to say, “just because times are tough doesn’t mean that you can put a ring on it and everything will be okay, that’s not how it works,” I could tell that he didn’t understand, but he was trying to. “We’ll be okay, let’s just go home,” I said as I touched his damp beard and stood up. I could hear the wind whistling through the tall grass and wild flowers as we walked down the hill with some distance between us. I looked back at the sunrise once more, it was brighter out but the golden poppies were still closed.