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It was her birthday today. She was turning thirteen and gliding toward teenage life yet Adelaide felt sad the moment she woke up. Another day and she saw herself alone. Of course her family and God cared and loved her but there is something about having someone else that is not related to you, that everyone yearns for. A different type of bond. That was exactly what she yearned for. A friendship. Her timidity kept her from making such bonds.
Adelaide lay in her bed under her covers safe, yet friendless. Suppressing tears she slowly crawled out of bed. As her throat began to burn due to imminent tears, she quietly told her self, “No tears on my birthday…no tears on my birthday…”
Quickly putting on a smile she meandered into the kitchen where her mother was making pancakes.
Putting on smiling face Adelaide asked, “So what kind of pancakes this year?”
“Only your favorite-banana.” Her mother answered happily.
Picking up her plate and walking over to the table, Adelaide devoured her breakfast with a slightly more genuine smile. Perhaps today would not be too horrid.
At that moment her father came barreling down the stairs and hugged his only daughter and jovially said, “Happy thirteenth birthday!”
“Thanks dad!” Adelaide responded while mirroring her father’s happiness sans sarcasm.
“So what is on the agenda for today?” Her father asked while he dove right into breakfast.
“Well, open gifts, obviously, and then go birthday shopping with mom.” Adelaide said with excitement. She loved shopping.
Nodding his head, Adelaide’s father inquired, “With mom? Wouldn’t you want to go with friends or something? What about that girl you talked to when we were in the grocery store?”
Adelaide’s smile vanished. Hitting sensitive points were her fathers specialty and right now it was not easy for Adelaide to hide her sadness and anger for the question.
“No, I’m not going with friends, and she is not a friend. We barely talk. She probably only talked to me to be polite.” Bitterness was visible in her explanation and her father detected it.
“I’m sorry…don’t worry, next week when summer is over and the school year starts you will meet all sorts of friends. No one will be able to resist your friendship.” Said her father.
Halfheartedly she replied, “Right.” Adelaide hated when her father would say such condescending things like that. It was as if he were lying straight to her face. Nobody wanted to be her friend, she was just waiting for the day she would accept that fact. As she began to feel the tears coming on again and the burning in her throat flared up she quietly asked, “Can I be excused?” Before her parents could answer she was already out of her seat and walking toward the door when she heard her parents yell, “Where are you going Addy??” With sarcastic bitterness she answered back, “To go on my very special birthday walk.”
Flinging open the door Adelaide’s tears began to flow and run across her face like cars racing down a smooth street. Even though she constantly brushed the wet raindrops off her face they still continued to come. Loneliness consumed her thoughts and pain came out in pools on her face. In her mind she kept yelling, “Why Lord am I alone…why?” One friend was all she wanted.
Finally she arrived at the park. There were rows and rows of flowers that she could lash out her anger on. Bringing up her hand she whacked a flower, completely shattering it. This was her way of relieving her anger. She wanted something to suffer along with her. With so much anger she flung her arms and demolished the whole row but when she came to the last one she stopped. The tears gushed out.
Staring right at the flower she said, “How can you feel my pain…” Slowly inhaling she continued, “How can anyone feel the solitude I feel.” Falling to ground on her knees she wept. Closing her eyes she softly prayed to God, “I’m tired of feeling alone God…” Sighing weakly she picked herself up and began to walk back home. She left one flower unharmed.
As she was about walk into her house she stumbled on a rock. When she looked down she found it was not a rock but a giant seed. Curiously, gazing down at the ground she stared at the odd object and slowly bent down to pick it up when she saw something very interesting inscribed on it. The words, “Happy Birthday Adelaide!” were written on it. She frantically looked around, wondering what kind of person would leave such a thing. What a mean joke. She could not just leave it there so she picked up the abnormal seed and brought it into the house.
She had successfully dodged her parents and was safe in her room. Lying on her bed she stared hard at the seed. She did not blink or avert her eyes. Puzzlement was encompassing her.
The next moment something absolutely amazing happened. The very seed began to grow into a preternatural sunflower. With her mouth wide open she moved away from this abnormal thing.
Slowly, the flower raised it’s head and gazed straight into Adelaide’s eyes. The flower had eyes. They were deep brown with an outer shade of dull yellow bordering the dramatic eyes.
Adelaide could not believe her eyes. It appeared exactly like a sunflower, just huge. Thinking she was delusional, she closed her eyes tight breathing deeply. When she opened her eyes it was still there.
Before Adelaide could utter a word the sunflower spoke very weakly. “Light.” Her eyes began to droop and the loss of her yellow rim was imminent.
Again the sunflower uttered with feeble desperation, “Please.”
Quickly, Adelaide reached for her desk lamp and showed it right on the sunflower. At that moment the sunflower began to regain strength and her yellow-rimmed eyes became beautiful again.
With an energized smile now, the sunflower happily said, “Happy Birthday Adelaide!”
Practically jumping Adelaide stood up against her back wall; very close to her door. With small gasps of air Adelaide asked frighteningly, “How do you know my name?”
“Why, I’m your Birthday Flower, Adelaide. That’s how I know your name.”
“What? What do you mean birthday flower?”
“Oh, well, on girls birthdays we, the flowers, go out and wish them a happy birthday and spend the day with them and be their very special flower friend.” The flowers voice was so genial and bright. It calmed Adelaide in so many ways.
“Okay? Um, okay.” Adelaide was at a loss for words. Nothing this strange had ever happened to her. Covertly, she pinched herself on the arm. The tingling pain went up her arm. She was not dreaming.
“I know this is odd, but I am really friendly.”
Adelaide never doubted the friendliness of the flower she was just unsure about how to act or do with the flower.
“I’m not frightened.” As Adelaide said those very words she felt even less uneasy. She began to walk toward this freak of nature.
With a relieving smile the flower said, “Good…Lately girls either leave us as seeds and ignore us or bring us in as you did and eventually place us outside because they are confused or frightened or just want to spend the day with there friends. So I will understand if you want to do just that, just please don’t leave me outside, it seems so very gloomy out there.”
Upon hearing this and that the sunflower was under the impression that Adelaide had friends, she became depressed again. Her eyes became heavy and she held her head down. Physically, she lost all energy within two seconds.
Worriedly, the sunflower asked, “Are you okay?”
“I have no friends.” Adelaide did not lift up her head to look at the flower; it took to much energy.
With a smile upon her flower face the sunflower reassured Adelaide, “You do today.”
Slowly, sunflower lifted one of her leaves and brought Adelaide’s head back up.
“I’m Sommer.” Sommer held out her hand (or leaf) to shake hands with Adelaide.
Adelaide felt so giddy. A friend for a day, she could not snub her nose against that. Even though it was Sommer’s job to be with her today, Adelaide did not care, she just wanted someone to be with her. Silently, she thanked God.
“So…Sommer, do you like to play baseball?” Adelaide asked hopeful.
With a teasing smirk Sommer replied, “These leaves are stronger than they appear.”
With concentration written all over Adelaide’s face, she gripped the baseball bat tighter. Her eyes narrowed as she stared at Sommer.
Sommer quickly pulled back her leaf of a hand, then next thing Adelaide knew, the ball met with the bat. Out of the park.
Adelaide smiled a proud smile. They played for hours. Switching the roles of batter and pitcher every so often. Neither had ever had that much fun.
“Wow!” Adelaide exclaimed while breathing heavily, “I have never had that much fun…ever. I’ve never actually played baseball with anyone before.”
Adelaide breathed a deep breath and sat down on the dank grass. “Yeah, I’m kind of a loner…but not by choice.”
“Not by choice? How does that work?” Sommer did not mean to tease; She did not realize the inner emotions swimming inside Adelaide.
“I just don’t make friends easy, okay.” Adelaide retorted with a defensive tone.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to offend or make you angry. Don’t be mad.” Her pleading eyes turned Adelaide right around.
“It’s just, I can’t…” Adelaide sighed. “I’m just so shy you know. I mean I talk to people at school but sometimes, well most of the time, it feels so, vacant. And I’m alone on the weekends. I don’t mind being alone, and I’m not asking for hundreds of friends, just one, that I know will be there, and never leave me. Loneliness isn’t a bad thing, but constant loneliness, is…unbearable.”
Surprisingly, Adelaide did not shed a tear. She had wept enough already.
They both walked in silence all the way back to Adelaide’s house. Sommer could not find the right words. That had never happened.
After their long silence, Adelaide spoke two words with an uncontrollable smile. “Thank you.”
“Hey, the day isn’t over yet.” Sommer was such a tease. She was happy now that Adelaide was beaming.
The two kindred spirits lay on Adelaide’s floor laughing and giggling about nonsense that all friends inevitably talk about. Beaming from ear to ear Adelaide was so grateful she was able to taste a morsel of what friendship can be. She loved it.
Amongst the laughter, one of Sommer’s bright yellow petals slowly fell to the ground.
Adelaide knew what this meant but she could not help asking, “What does that mean?”
With unwanted gloom Sommer responded, “It means that the day is almost over. Your thirteenth birthday is coming to an end.” And with a slightly teasing tone to lighten the mood she adds, “And I will be reduced to thousands of seeds and scatter.”
Depression swept over Adelaide. She knew the whole time that Sommer would have to leave, but it was difficult for her not to show her sadness.
“It’s okay, I will be back next year.”
The tears began to flow down Adelaide’s forlorn face. Her tears were not because she was sorry for herself but that her only friend was leaving.
Through the tears Adelaide managed to say, “Please don’t leave.”
Fighting tears, Sommer looked straight into Adelaide’s damp eyes and told her, “You are never alone. You have so many people who care about you.”
Adelaide knew that Sommer meant her parents but…Then Adelaide looked behind Sommer and saw her leather bound Bible lying on her desk. She thought to herself, no… I’m I have never been alone.
“Addy…Addy?” Adelaide came back from her thoughts and stared Sommer again.
“You are never alone Adelaide.”
“Yes, I know.” Her tears subsided. She leapt into bed and before she fell asleep she asked Sommer one last question, “Will you be here in the morning?”
Faintly Sommer replied, “Yes…”
The next morning Adelaide woke up to see thousands of huge yellow petals scattered all over he room. Sommer’s petals were practically all on the floor. Her glorious ring of yellow was diminishing.
“Adelaide?” Sommer said weakly.
Frantically Adelaide came to Sommer’s aid. “Yes Sommer?”
“I need you to take me outside.”
Picking Sommer up Adelaide ran to the door and hopped down the stairs. Finally, Adelaide came to a patch of grass and laid Sommer down.
Sommer’s last words to her kindred spirit were, “I will miss you greatly…”
Right before Adelaide’s eyes Sommer began to shrink to tiny little jet-black seeds. Adelaide looked closer and found that they were sunflower seeds.
She picked one of the seeds off from the ground and with a slight smile said, “Of course.”
No tears cascaded down her cheeks and no anger filled rants ensued. She decided she was not going to cry. There was no reason.
As she stood there, she folded her hands and closed her eyes shut.
“Lord, please forgive me. I completely forgot about You, I felt sorry for myself and got angry at You. I was never alone. You were always with me. I need Your help. Give me strength…in everything I do. And…thank you for Sommer. Amen.”
She knew that after that moment she would open up to people, allow someone to come into her life. Difficult this task may seem, she knew that friendship was what she wanted. She knew what that bond felt like. Self-pity would not longer eat away at her. She walked home with a new found strength.