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Rosebud by Victoria Buitron


As soon as I saw the wood in teal shimmering in the January sun, I knew that one was mine. Dad said maybe someone had accidentally left the sled in our yard and shrugged his shoulders like it was just a pink mushroom born during a frigid winter. Mom wanted it gone like everything else she doesn’t understand. Andy is in that pretending-to-be-cool-by-acting-all-jaded stage. But how could they jump the fence, climb the tree, and leave it hanging without no one hearing? Fine—seeing, maybe not. But hearing? Almond, our lab, not barking? They were all perplexed, but I was the only one who was excited. I brought it to the local hill, where others’ oohs and aaahs made it clear that someone used their hands to build it. Not a machine, not mass-made. I left it by my bedroom door, and I thought that maybe I’d wake up the following day and not see it anymore. But it stood, waiting for me—day in and day out, sometimes not where I placed it but it never left my room. A gift from who knows who? A gift of bark maybe made from bark hands. A gift from the twilight depths of our yard.


On the second day, after Lily grabbed the first one, another sled the same color that I had when I was a child appeared on the tree. I asked Jorge to burn it. I said a prayer from my Catholic school days. A Hail Mary, and an Our Father, and I stood over the fire in our yard to watch it burn. I hadn’t prayed since Lily didn’t want to leave my womb years ago. But I stood over the heat, my cheeks getting warm, my back’s temp below freezing, and nothing happened. It stayed there, the wood not splintering, the color of cherries intact. An hour passed, and I hardly blinked. I reached with my left hand to make sure it wasn’t a mirage, and the sled had held all the flames’ heat. I

touched it and my hand burned fast—the way milk foams but in froths of red. Red street lights, flesh raised, hand covered in gauze pads. The following morning, I grabbed it with my right hand, left it in the corner of our basement—too afraid that if I drowned it in the lake, it would appear the next day under my bed. I told myself I shouldn’t pray only when I’m scared, but now I don’t pray at all, just stare at the lasting lesions on my palm.


Sleds? That’s what the king of trees or whatever the hell is out there sends? A sled? Not money or, say, something at least useful like a pressure washer to clean the house and the car? Or, I don’t know, the cure for cancer? Everyone is focused on the how and the why, but all I can imagine is that there is someone recording this for a twisted game. And you know what? I’m here for it. I won’t be fooled into losing sleep. They can film all they want. My sled is cool, though, not going to lie. It’s matte black with a rose dying, the petals falling, the thorns sharp, raised a little to feel the almost needle. I left it outside next to the snowman I made with dirt for eyeliner. Going to leave it there until spring arrives, until whoever is recording this comes clean. It’s definitely not dad—he doesn’t pull pranks. Only says be good and be careful and don’t forget to say I love you more than once a day and blah blah blah. And one day maybe we can finally laugh about how Mom thinks the devil incarnate has been mocking us with sleds. When she’s healed, of course. When her hand isn’t a scab.


I stood watch the night after the burn. To see who or what would leave a new one there. The last one. I stared with binoculars, left a camera facing the auspicious tree from the living room. One moment, though, I yawned for too long. When I looked back, there it was. A gold shine I could

see from our bedroom. I walked down with untied boots and a half-zipped puffy jacket. Not a replica of the sled my older brother got me. But the actual one. With my name on the bottom in lettering that looked like scars. I grabbed it and walked a few blocks over to the neighborhood mound—no children screaming, no teenage tears nor the screams on the way to the hospital with Maggie. I wanted to hear nothing. The moon made the snow look grey, and my breath steamed. I sat on it, a bit tighter but still my form. When I pressed my core to the front and began the path down I felt two hands, each one on top of my shoulders, but I didn’t look back. I let the wind slice my lips as still stars became aimless rockets, as my laughter pierced the steady silence, and then I went up the hill again and waited for that sure push.


Victoria Buitron is an award-winning writer who hails from Ecuador and resides in Connecticut. She received an MFA in Creative Writing from Fairfield University. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The Normal School, the 2021 Connecticut Literary Anthology, The Acentos Review, and other literary magazines. Her debut memoir-in-essays, A Body Across Two Hemispheres, is the 2021 Fairfield Book Prize winner.


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