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Of Orchids and Sunshine
I heard my little sister calling my name, but I tried to ignore her. Every time I associated with her, I somehow ended up in trouble because of a mess she created.
“Please can I come with you?” she pleaded glaring at me with her stormy eyes. Her tangled mess of raven hair blew in the warm summer wind.
As if the child willed for it to happen, the overcast sky parted, allowing silky ribbons of golden sunlight shine down on the old cabin our parents dragged us to every summer. I glanced over at my sister who had turned her nose upward toward the sun, a thin smile on her face. The sun caused a rare smile to grace my own lips as well.
I listened silently to my father pounding on the keys of his ancient type-writer, and my mother’s shouts at him to “quit that godforsaken racket.” I continued walking, looking over my shoulder briefly.
“Fine!” I called back. “But I’m not getting into trouble this time.” I heard her peel of laughter and then the child’s loud footsteps slapping the dirt as she ran to catch up with me.
“Where are we going Gable?” Orchid asked, sticking her thumb inside her mouth innocently. When she saw me looking, she pulled it out quickly and wiped her spit-covered hand on her dirty black overalls. As we climbed through a rock pile, she reached over and grabbed my hands with her sticky fingers. I wanted to pull away, and I would have too, but something about the sunshine I hadn’t seen all summer, caused me to grip her hand tightly and grin down at her.
“We’re going on an adventure,” I replied mysteriously. Her eyes widened in admiration.
“What kind o adventure?” she whispered, tugging on my hand. I gave her a serious look, full of false mystery.
“A secret adventure,” I answered with a laugh. Orchid laughed too, showing off her sparkling teeth. She skipped to keep up with me, my legs being so much longer than hers. My mind raced as I thought of how to turn what had begun as a walk, into an adventure for the girl. We hiked through the woods and climbed every boulder I could find, as I told tales of a mystic flower that grew somewhere around here. My stories told of an evil king who was searching high and low for this mythical posy, when all along it was right under his nose. The thing was though, that only the most special, wonderful child could pick the magnificent botanic marvel.
Orchid listened attentively as I spoke, her eyebrows furrowing into a slight frown. She tugged on my shirt and gave me her best doe-eyed expression.
“I’m special, aren’t I Gable? Can’t I pick the magical flower and save it from the wretched king?”
I fought to keep an earnest look on my face. “There are only a few of these precious flowers in the world, Ori. If we pick them, their magic will be gone.” When Orchid’s doe eyes became sad, I hurriedly added, “But if an incredible child - such as yourself - were to pick it, two more would grow back in its place.” Orchid’s face brightened instantly.
“Well what are we waiting for Gable? We’ve got to find one,” she whispered. half followed her, further and further away from the summer cabin. Neither of us had ever been so far away before, but I was confident that I could get us back safely. Orchid babbled away, asking one question after another about the towns people who sent us on the mission to save the flower.
It wasn’t long until Orchid trained her curious eyes on me and asked, “What’s the flower called, huh Gable?”
“It’s called,” I whispered, “orchid, after the great Princess Orchard.” Ori was so lost in the story and the adventure that she didn’t glare at me and scold me about how bad my stories were. As she sometimes did when she was cranky at bedtime and I was given the responsibility of cheering her up.
We were climbing the side of a steep slab of rock when Orchid interrupted my tale of how the magical orchid received its name. “Gable!” she hissed squeezing my hand, which she had yet to let go of. “I think I see the orchid!” She pointed to a beautiful flower that was nestled between the rocks, tiny sprouts of grass shooting up around it. The stem was long and thin, and the flowers were the most gorgeous thing I’d ever seen.
The two blossoms were perfectly symmetrical on either side. They were the whitest color I had ever observed, with specks of onyx and blushed with a light pink. The oddly shaped, wide petals were lightly dusted with a fine, dark red powder. They were small flowers, but to my sister and I, they appeared magical.
“You’re right!” I exclaimed. “e found them. Now, you can only pick one of the flowers, okay?” After laying eyes on the tangible flower that I thought I had fabricated for my sister, I didn’t want her to uproot it from its natural place among the lonely rocks.
Orchid let go of my hand and jogged toward the posy. She stared at it in awe for a moment before she looked back at me. “Are you sure I’m allowed to pick it? What if Princess Orchard gets mad at me for killing on of her magical plants?” she asked seriously. I was taken aback by how wrapped up in my made up stories she had become. I grinned at her.
“It will always grow back kiddo,” I reminded her. “I don’t think Princess Orchard will mind at all. Remember, you were supposed to pick the magical flower to take back to the towns people.” Orchid bent down, her painted pink finger nails hovering above the flower. Finally, she gently tore the orchid’s gnarly stem from the ground.
“Gable,” she yawned, slipping her hand through mine once more, “can we go home now?” Her dark eyebrows knit together and her eyelids drooped. It was then that I realized the sun had begun to set and our parents didn’t know where in the hell Ori had run off too. I cursed as I swung the little girl into my arms. I fully expected the child’s “wrath of fury” to reign down on me, but for once, it didn’t. She laid her head on my shoulder and stuck her thumb into her mouth. Her dirt-stained right hand gripping the orchid tightly.
It took me an hour to retrace our path back to the dreadful cabin that awaited. As I walked slowly up the dirt road, Orchid cradled in my arms, the blossom tucked carefully in her fist, I saw my parents waiting on the steps. When they saw us, they raced to meet us in the middle of the driveway. Relief, fear, curiosity, worry and fury flashed across their faces.
“Where have the two of you been?” Mother growled as they stared at us. The sound of my mother’s furious inquiry awoke my sleeping sister. She sat up in my arms, her bleary eyes becoming alive with rare excitement. The expression confused my parents, as Orchid hated our yearly, traditional summer vacation.
“We were on a secret adventure. We had to save the orchid from the evil King Raptor...” Orchid continued to tell Father and Mother about our mission from the towns people as she sat in my arms. “...And then Gable said that Princess Orchard wouldn’t be mad if I picked the Mystical Orchid. And guess what else Gable said? He said that Princess Orchard said that I picked the perfect flower, and we were the heroes!”
Mother and Father looked at each other and then at me. I smiled innocently, which just made them suspicious. My mother leaned over and whispered something to my father who shrugged.
“Who knows,” he answered my mother’s question. “Must be the sun. You know what they say: weather affects people’s moods.”
Mother shook her head as the last rays of sunshine disappeared. he turned her piercing glare on me. “Take your sister to bed. You are in major trouble! Do you know how worried we were?” she snapped. Of course, somehow Orchid still managed to get me into trouble.
I ignored my parents as they proceeded to scold me, and took my sister to her room. Laying her down, I pried the delicate blossom from her hand and set it on her nightstand. As I turned to leave the room, I could’ve sworn I saw the sparkling dust on the flower shimmer in the non-existent moonlight.
“Yep,” I heard my mother agree from the living room, “must be the sunshine.”