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One Lonely Flower
I slammed my fist down on the desk for the last time. I couldn’t do this anymore. What was wrong with me? Hurt, guilt, fear, pain – the torrent of emotions welling up inside me overflowed, and the stifled pitter-patter of teardrops hitting the desk filled the vacuum that was my lonely attic room. Maybe writing wasn’t for me. Maybe I wasn’t…good enough? I sighed, crumpling up the last, futile effort. Perhaps it was time for something new. A series of visions pranced through – attempting scales on a piano, signing up for Zumba dance classes, trying to shade a drawing and instead ending up with a black sheet of paper that stained my fingers graphite when I tried to touch it. I opened my eyes to a reality that was even worse – a dull, graying, peeling bedroom, bare but for a bed, a desk, and an overflowing recycle bin. What kind of life was this? No wonder I was incapable of anything great. No wonder I found myself at a loss for eloquent and elegant words to express my few, boring thoughts.
Did I ever think I’d measure up to my mother? Five and a half feet of Nobel material. Me? I couldn’t write a 250-word essay without stumbling every step of the way. I’d tried asking her for help once. We stopped talking for a week after the incident, and it had been me, setting aside my pride, and carefully assuaging her ego for my sake, that had brought about reconciliation. Though a tentative peace followed, I never again showed her my writing. The purpose of my retreating into the attic was, in essence, solitude, and a chance to write in peace. I’d been counting on producing (hopefully) a novel to justify my hermit-like reclusiveness. But this? This was…failure. The word made the tears fall harder, faster, stronger. In a single act of extreme anger, I swept all my papers – blank, crumpled, and half-used – into the recycle bin, casting my pen at the wall, and with a muffled sob, I threw myself on the bed.
This was it. It was all over – any ambition I’d ever had to be anything. Gone. From here on out, I’d live as it suited me, finding odd jobs to pay rent and food, a pointless existence.
Each step echoed through the house as I plodded down to the main floor. I dragged my shoes out from their hiding place in the closet, ran my finger over them to remove a year’s worth of dust, and slipped them on. Opening the door, I stepped out into society for the first time in over a year.
I roamed the streets, suddenly grateful for the financial help my parents gave me that enabled me to embark on my little literary adventure. An adventure that led nowhere, I thought bitterly as I hit a dead end. I turned around, and realized that a couple of kids had come out to play, running helter-skelter across the otherwise-deserted street. In my cranky mood, I decided it was safer to leave them alone, and find another way out of this place. But where to go?
“You could make a right…” The voice’s owner stepped out of the shadows. “There’s a nice, secluded park down the road, you know. It might help calm you down a bit.” He seemed to be an average guy, probably around my age, typical height and slender of build, with tousled black hair – but those eyes! Piercing, riveting blue – not that of the ocean or of sapphires, or even of the sky, but a clear, sparkling blue. It was like someone had taken the bluest of the “Blue” Crayola crayons and added a certain twinkle to it.
“A p-park?” I stammered in reply. “And how did you know I-”
“You’ll know it when you see the oaks.” And with that, he was gone.
Feeling rather disappointed (I couldn’t even get a guy to stick around for two seconds?!), I decided to heed his words, and upon finding the place, decided to take a stroll. Grudgingly, I admitted to myself that he was right. It was beautiful. And it was wholly, completely, totally, wonderfully empty. Not a soul could be seen heard, or even smelled. I meandered through the giant arch of regal oaks, past the pines, tucking a pine cone into my pocket for some as-of-yet unknown purpose. I made my way over the bridge and bustling creek, grateful for – what was I grateful for? I turned my head upwards and shrugged off the question. Letting my heart soar like the bird chirping out a song far above my head, I smiled for the first time in weeks.
And then I saw it. A weeping willow, flush with green leaves, with one long sturdy branch sticking out at the oddest of angles. I sprung over – well, okay, I didn’t spring; I gasped and panted and was forcibly introduced to something called fat, which apparently accumulates around your abdomen due to long periods of inactivity. Finally making it over the branch, I nestled into the tree’s giant trunk, once again feeling small in the world. And you know, I realized that feeling tiny every once in a while isn’t all that bad. It helps you appreciate the poetry of nature – the delicate swaying of the willow branches; the wind, as it speeds on its journey to some unknown destination, always in a rush; the flowers that slowly twirl and drift to the ground, forever separated from their parent tree.
I watched as a cherry blossom floated to the ground, a fair distance away from its tree. It lay there, lonely and forlorn, with no one and nothing close by. Its petals were slightly bent, and it looked for all the world like some abandoned child, left to defend itself against the elements all alone. Like me – except that I’m alone by choice, I reminded myself. Still, some last vestige of empathy prompted me to hop off the tree (yes, hop; coming down is always easier than climbing up), but the wind had other ideas. A heavy gust blew, as rain clouds began to gather overhead. The flower was carried off somewhere, perhaps to inspire some other melancholy human being. I thought I felt a tear in my eye as it eluded me…
As I stood there pondering the fate of the flower, the first drop fell, and before I knew it, I was caught in a rainstorm. Within moments, I was drenched to the core, thoroughly enjoying every bit of it. Is there any feeling like being in the rain? It washes you deeper than any shower ever could, peeling off layer after layer of bitterness and resentment until you’re left with nothing but love for everything around and about you.
Somewhere amidst that half hour of utter, carefree joy, I had my moment of revelation. There was still so much in the world to write about – and someone had to put it down! I would give writing a second chance. If for nothing else, it would be for that flower (which was probably being battered to pieces by the storm). I would immortalize it through language, putting into words the special meaning it now had for me.
I carried my waterlogged shoes back the way I’d come, reluctantly tearing my soaked self away from my little new paradise.
I chose not to go back the way I had arrived, simply because I didn’t remember my way home from the dead end. After a couple of hours of aimless wandering, I found myself at a familiar crossroads, and, all-too aware of the eyes and whispers that followed my drenched figure, I made my way home.
My roommate gave me a sharp look of surprise as I entered the house. Getting past it quickly, she offered me dinner, which I refused, sending a rueful glance down to my rather rotund stomach.
I settled down at my desk a little while later, washed, dry, and warm (though that darned sniffle refused to go away!), pen in hand, prepared for the blank mind that always accompanied any attempts at writing. It didn’t come. Instead, words spewed themselves out onto the paper, thoughts flowing faster than I could put them down.
I contemplated going to sleep, but it didn’t come very willingly, and so I continued to write…and write… and write…
As the sun shed its light on the world, I leaned back and relaxed, finally finished with the first chapter of my new novel: The Fate of a Flower. I promptly fell asleep, too tired to think another thought. I didn’t wake til past noon.
Feeling rather reflective, I chose to pay a second visit to the park. As I strode out the door, notebook in hand, pen in hair, I looked left and right and came to a sudden stop, realizing I didn’t know which way to go. Rather disappointed in my lack of navigational abilities, I decided to use my usual method of guess-and-check, wandering the streets until I arrived at a familiar location (I eventually did). Sighing with relief, I fled through the streets that I now recognized, arriving at the gateway of the majestic oaks. It took my breath away once more, and I felt the need to tiptoe in, as though I were entering a secret kingdom as an unwanted intruder.
Soon, though, I couldn’t hold the energy in anymore, and I tore through the pathways, arriving at my willow tree out of breath and ready to collapse onto it – except there was already someone there. At first, he didn’t look up from the sketchpad resting in his lap at first, outlining some picture or another. Eventually, though, he raised his head, his riveting blue eyes cutting through to my core: