Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

Fiction Fridays
By: Lisa

age, Rosemary and Thyme will show you a good time. That was the irresistibly clever rhyme all the ninth grade boys put their heads together to write shortly after the triplets entered high school. They were mousy-blonde and looked little alike, products of their mothers last-ditch attempt at in-vitro. The only thing they had in common were their bright green eyes, which prompted their mother, upon taking one look at her screaming baby girls, to name them after the things she grew in her herb garden. Theyre so green, shed said with a drug-induced languor. 

If you asked the triplets now, theyd say that high school was by far the worst time, when boys and girls alike teased and tormented them about their hippie names and made up verses, failing spectacularly to hit upon anything even accidentally witty. Thyme had fought back, laughing throatily at her bullies and even dating two or three of them. Sage kept her nose firmly nestled in a boring book she didnt even like, while Rosemarys darting eyes surveyed it all, saying nothing but thinking everything. At home, they avoided all vegetables and herbs as well as their doting mother, braiding each others hair and formulating escape plans.

Now, twelve years after they each secured a high school diploma and got the hell out of Jersey, the triplets have met for an early lunch, an ancient tradition all too weathered by their time apart. Its October in the East Village, the city campuses of NYU and Cooper Union crawling with scarfed students unused to the suddenly chill weather. The sisters sit at a four top in a trendy brunch place, order several plates of scones and pancakes, and dont let the coffee grow cold over awkward conversation. Instead they sip in earnest, all too aware of the 80s remixes that remind them of their childhoods. Back when it was us versus them.

Sage is now an attorney on the Upper East Side, and she gives her name as Sajin. Her adopted name may be at odds with her birthplace and fair coloring, but her given name is at odds with everything. Colleagues and friends invariably ask her about her unusual Aboriginal name, and end by nicknaming her Sage just the same. At least theyre not actually picturing a smelly leaf, she rationalizes.

Rosemary got off easy; she’s now a hairstylist in Harrison, and likes to tell patrons the story of how she and her sisters got their names. It makes for excellent hair-bleaching conversation, and if she’s in an especially good mood, she’ll even fabricate a detail or two. “Our mother was a free spirit, and an executive chef” or “Our mother had only three seeds in her pocket when she came to this country at fifteen years old,” well aware that her mother hails from Trenton. And if Rosemary is so inclined, she goes by Rose, the innocuous and lovely.

Thyme became a poet, then an archaeologist, then a painter, but throughout it all she is a bartender in Brooklyn, with closely-cropped curls and constant orange-red lips. She’ll never admit that her first choice of vocation was a product of her name’s convenient similarity to “rhyme.” Once, an ex had tattooed a clock onto his arm for her. “Funny,” she’d said, as he showed her the gleaming black bruise in earnest, squeaking, “Get it? Time.”

The scones finished, Rosemary and Thyme having fought over the last half of a cinnamon scone as they had once fought over the same football player, they put on their hats and gloves. Rosemary pulls a girly knit cap over her curls, adorned on the side with a red flower—a rose. Sage carefully replaces her gray woolen cloche over her moisturized waves, and Thyme had never taken off her black beanie, which completes her ensemble of black blouse and dark-wash jeans. The girls stand to leave.

“I like your hat,” a young brunette woman says, leaning toward the triplets and smiling innocently. Sage, Rosemary and Thyme each look up in one solitary movement. “Thank you.” The chorus ends as six green eyes meet in embarrassment.

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Oh, hello!
We're Sarah and Kaitlyn, roommates from Milwaukee who started this blog to promote creativity and life.
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