Titles by Kij Johnson are available for purchase online

(Thank you, Tim, a thousand times, for all the work on the migration. You are a jewel.)

These violets were by my front walk this week. For some reason, my yard this year is like a violet botanical garden: they are growing like, well, weeds, but like crabgrass-level weeds, not cowslip-level weeds. And there are multiple varieties, two shades of purple, plus lovely fat blooms, white edged with purple.

I had a best friend in elementary school — in fact, my only friend, the only person I could count on regularly for playing together, apart from my brother. Katie Schaper? Schaeper? Schapper? (I have never been able to find her, not entirely because I was unable to remember how her last name was spelled.) Her family moved away somewhere in the middle, when I was in third or fourth grade. We wrote little letters to one another once in a while, and I saw her again after my family moved to Shell Rock. We walked down to the schoolyard, which was really just a flood plain by the river they kept mowed and called a softball field. I tried to get her to play make-believe with me as we had five years earlier, and she said, Aren’t we a little old for that?

Well, we were thirteen, as I recall, so I was embarrassed, but I also suspected that she was right. I needed to learn to fit in better, I knew: making up and acting out adventures in the settings of shows I loved was about as pathetic as you could get. (Flashforward forty years, and I would have fallen into writing fanfiction and sent it to my friends online: it would have been a very different life.)

But before that, back when she was the only girl who spent time with me. I remember one May Day morning, sneaking down to her house and hanging a little woven-paper May Day basket from the door. I had filled it with violets from my yard. Was there a note? Candy? Anything but those violets? All I remember is the aluminum level of the screen door, and the little paper basket held together with staples, and the violets already wilting.