For Valentine’s Day, she would always make a string of seven red paper cranes for each of her classmates instead of going to Walmart and buying generic cards like everyone else. Each one in the set would be made of different kinds of paper, some shiny and crinkly, some pale and elegant, some bold and hard on the eyes.
She would start on January 14th, making a few cranes every day until she finished her task. The living room was her studio, and everyone in her family knew not to step foot in there once the floor became covered with the crimson paper.
For the sets she made for her two best friends, she would run upstairs to her mother’s room with the cranes and spray them with her favorite perfume, which was heavy and smelled of tuberose and jasmine.
She always shrugged and said “I don’t know, I just like making them because they’re pretty,” when anyone asked her why she went to so much effort to make the cranes, but the real reason was because she had read Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes and she thought that if she managed to eventually fold a thousand cranes and give them away to her friends, she would be able to wish that nobody else in her family would ever get sick.
But because it was a secret and she could only fold cranes for Valentine’s Day, she worried that she wouldn’t finish in time before something bad happened again.