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October 13, 2021 - Image 16

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The Michigan Daily

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Wednesday, October 13, 2021 // The Statement — 4

She loved the way the paper felt against

her fingertips. She slid her thumb across the
crisp edge, creating yet another fold — the
blueprint for what was to take shape.

Today was a record: Beatrix made 990

before dinnertime. Only 10 away before the
job was done. Her hands were cramped and
papercuts lined the webs of her fingers. The
burbling of her stomach was a testament for
the strenuous task.

Paper cranes.
This obsession was an attempt at rec-

onciliation, first set off when she stumbled
upon a how-to book at the local church sale.
It was a 25-cent manual entitled “The Com-
plete Book of Origami.” It sat with a broken
binding and water-damaged pages. Much of
the book was unreadable — the aged mildew
cemented the paper together and faded the
script. Luckily for Bea, the diagram instruc-
tions and history of the crane remained per-
fectly intact.

Its rustic charm was in part why she liked

the book. There was also the fact that it was
to be her attempt at salvation. A guidebook
for the lost.

Despite the manual’s unruly condition, it

had a sense of safeness about it. A sense
that Bea had lacked for the past six

December 5, 2015. The day

her world ended, the day they
walked out of her life. Not
even a paper note was left for
a final goodbye. Such lack
of closure opened a new
chapter in Bea’s life, a chap-
ter that detailed her endless
pursuit of paper.

At first, she used receipts

and old National Geographic
magazines to craft her cranes — the
only materials she could find on street
corners or in recycling bins. The printed
images and ink on the page made it diffi-
cult to make a solid, intentional crease, yet
the vibrancy of the pictures made up for the
medium’s poor composition.

They were colorful creatures each with

their own pictorial personality. The beaks
pointed confidently upward; the wings
slightly misshapen.

An obsession. Something that con-

sumed her day-to-day activities and spare
moments. An endless pursuit of paper.

Such obsession traveled with her every-

where she went. When Bea would go out to
eat, she would unroll the napkin folder and
create the first fold — all before the waitress
could even greet her table.

When Bea would get home from school,

she would immediately take out her graded

tests and marked notebook paper to begin
the craft — all paper birds, a not so helpful
study tool.

1,000 of their faceless and nameless bod-

ies joined her paper family each day.

Though she had a multitude of name-

less, identical birds, Bea had her favorites —
namely the ones made from newspaper. She
lingered around the newsstand each Sunday
as a young boy refilled the box, catching its
lid before the compartment clicked shut.
The smell of the fresh press combined with
the lightness of the paper made for a lively
crane, one plastered with a variety of words
and news about climate change or abuse
scandals, all of which she couldn’t begin to

Paper cranes.
Each had its own story, yet all possessed

the same intent. Her paper family, now
more like a paper army, were her remedy.
The magic elixir to the world’s unavoidable
afflictions. The cure to nature’s unknow-
able plan.


began to fold
each morning until
all 1,000 were made each night, the water-
logged manual as her origami Bible.

“According to Japanese tradition, the

crane lives for 1,000 years. Those who create
these detailed folds and create 1,000 shall
therefore be granted one special wish.”

The short description located at the heart

of the book was her guiding phrase, a state-
ment that was to change the course of her
life. An endless pursuit of wishes; wishes
made of paper.

Her one wish was never to come true.

Despite her efforts, she was one paper crane

too little too late. Her work was never to be
finished. The wish to bring them back. This
was why she saw Dr. Lee each Thursday,
completing her cranes before every appoint-
ment to make up for lost time.

“How are you feeling today Beatrix?” he

would ask.

“I am feeling hopeful today.”
Dr. Lee then proceeded to justify her

grief, eventually asking, “Why don’t you tell
me about your paper cranes?”

Bea dodged the question each time, pan-

tomiming the folds out of stress. The real
reason was too painful to explain even to
a trained professional. She creates cranes
each day to forget her pain, to wishfully
attempt to undo it. Not to bring it up to a
stranger who she believed had no potential
to ease her hurt. He was not made of paper.

Dr. Lee diagnosed her with OCD and

depression, remedied with prescription
— a slip of paper signed with a

messy signature that quickly turned into a

paper bird.


1,000 pointed

faces and tails represented

a chance at health and healing; a chance
of continued beauty and grace. A chance
that she fell short of taking; a chance
she wouldn’t let slip through her fingers

Each night when she went home, she

would line them on her bedroom floor, cre-
ating a fleet. Although Bea was possessive
over her paper creations, sometimes she
would make a few extra to leave behind on
park benches or headstones. She often felt
selfish for hoarding so many wishes, there-
fore it was only right to potentially help

the next girl from taking on an unbearable
load of grief. Maybe, just maybe, .001% of
a wish would mean a difference for some-
one who experienced death and loneliness.
A tangible sign from heaven that Bea was
the deliverer of. Her role was like that of a
spiritual intermediary, a role she wished
someone would fill for her.

On a day like this where she had made

so many in so little time, she would write a
note to them on the scrap page before fold-
ing it into shape. It was a painful process,
yet a therapeutic one. Bea wrote in pencil,
for her mistakes and loss for words were
plentiful. Her eraser was worn to a mere
nub. The tiny, rolled shavings brushed off
the table formed a disorderly pile beneath
her feet.

To you. Erase. To the one I miss the

most. Erase.

Dear you,
Your birthday is this week, as you know.

I have been preparing and collecting extra
scraps to celebrate you. I left one in our
spot yesterday, one made of newspaper. I
hope you don’t mind. As an update, I have
made 2,187,000 wishes to bring you back

to me. Three more sets of wishes until

the big day. I hope you are proud of


With love. Erase. Please come
home. Erase. I miss you, Bea.

She crumpled up the

page. A crime. A death in
the family. A waste of mate-
rial and energy.

She never could quite put

into words what she wanted
to say. She was so angry and

confused at them for leaving,

something out of her control that

she is now so desperately trying to

They would never come back. If they

wanted to, they would. 2,187,000 are surely
enough wishes. Yet they are never enough.

It took her six years and countless ther-

apy sessions to realize this. Beatrix is a
crumpled piece of paper with irremovable
damage. No amount of flattening, pressing
and pleading can undo a crisp crease. No
amount of folding, wishing and creating
cranes can bring them back. Too far gone,

She hated the way the paper felt against

her fingertips. She slid her thumb across
the crisp edge, undoing the folds — the
blueprint for what was never meant to take

Paper Cranes.
She destroyed every single one.

The incomplete book of origami

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