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The Last Dandelion This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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On a cool, starry night, he fell. Like a lonely snowflake, the young boy gracefully drifted through the air before stopping lightly above the ground in an ancient forest. Around him, the trees and their autumn leaves shivered as if they somehow knew that he was back, he who would end their ephemeral summer reign. The diaphanous boy in his icy blue tunic took in the plant life around him before swiftly gliding through the forest.

Soft as a whisper, he flew. In his wake a ghostly chill followed, and the first frost began to fall over the forest. He picked up momentum, flying faster through the trees, his white hair blown by the wind like drifting snow. Excited for the coming season where he was king, a smile spread on his thin face. Frost fell on everything around him like a thin blanket as he twirled through the air and prepared his wintery kingdom.

Nothing was spared by the thick frost left behind by the small, airy boy. It overtook every blade of grass, covered each small shrub, and encompassed every individual leaf. The last remnants of summer life seemed to give up on that cool, late-autumn night. As the boy playfully flew about, a defeated silence from the forest filled the night.

The boy continued on, his eyes bright like the full moon that illuminated his work. Between the trees he weaved until he came to the edge of the forest. Turning around, he stood like a painter admiring his oeuvre. He felt nothing for the summer life that he was ending, for it was a process that came and went every year. No longer did he feel any remorse or any need to grieve.

Turning from what was finished to what had yet to be done, he took off into a grassy plain. The frost fell heavily upon the field, and soon he moved on. Through the cool, clear night he worked, the moon his only witness as he ended the growing seasons. Relentlessly, he covered every inch of life, picking up speed as he became acutely aware of a faint, growing light in the east. The playfulness left his eyes as he thought of that light and the warmth that always seemed to evade him.

But then something caught his eye. In the middle of a meadow, a yellow speck stood, a lonely star before the dawn. Curious, the boy found himself gliding toward the peculiar thing. Soon he understood what this mysterious dot of color was, and a small smile spread across his face. He knelt down to get a better look at the single, yellow dandelion, the sole survivor of its kind. It stood strong against the cool night.

The boy found himself admiring the determined yellow flower. Its bright tincture reminded him of the sun, the one being that was his bane, whose deadly warmth he still searched for. Enraptured by the dandelion, he wondered how something so much like the sun could be considered a nuisance, a weed. Each individual petal was a ray of warm sunlight, and all things yearned for that warmth, did they not? Yet why would so many look up to the sun if there were small suns here on Earth? This small weed was its own bright star, and yet it was constantly looked down upon. Could no one else see the beauty of its strength and hue? In that moment, the boy almost hated the sun for taking away the brilliance of the flower.

As if to feel the warmth of a solitary ray of sunlight, the boy touched a single petal with a thin, white finger. In an instant, the strong flower was encased in frost, its vibrant yellow hue hidden by an icy coat. The boy quickly pulled his hand back, unsure of what to do. Frenetically, he tried to melt the frost with a warm breath, but the ice merely became thicker, the once-strong dandelion wilting under the weight of it all.

The boy stood, taking a few steps back in disbelief. His eyes were glued to the flower, willing it to shine again like it had only moments ago. But the ice around it proved stronger than a minor wish, and the last dandelion stood still as a statue in its frosty prison. The boy could not believe that he, like the others who despised the weed, had destroyed the last of its kind. He had thought himself apart from the human world, appreciative of what was before him. But if he had destroyed that small dandelion, did he really have any appreciation for it at all?

Like clockwork, the sun inevitably rose, its early light casting long shadows on the frosty meadow. The boy, mourning the last dandelion, was vaguely aware of the rising light. In the back of his mind, he knew that remaining in the open, in the bright light of the sun, would be his undoing. Still, he stayed. Around him, the frost that he had left began to fade in the warm sunlight. Hope rose in the small boy like the sun before him, and he prayed to anyone who would listen for the flower to break through its icy cage.

The boy became unaware of time, and he was not sure if it had been minutes or hours before the ice around the flower began to melt. Like tears, its wintery prison slowly dripped away. From underneath the ice, the dandelion finally emerged. But like the frost around him, the boy's hope melted away. He stared sadly at the browned petals and the limp shell of the flower that was once its own strong sun.

With the last bright star on Earth gone, the boy looked instead to the sky. He took in the bright sun above him, accepting his fate. Ignoring the chill of his very being, the boy closed his eyes and imagined the warmth of the sun spreading over him. In his mind, he saw endless days surrounded by thousands of bright, yellow dandelions in the light of the summer. A peaceful smile spread across his face before the boy faded away like the frost he had left behind, giving up his icy rule to the brilliant autumn sun.




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