Victoria the Conqueror

<not published, just for fun>

flower

I once met a flower who grew tall and proud. She was a vibrant fuchsia, unlike any hue I had ever seen, with yellow stigmas nuzzled cozily in her belly. She was strong and confident and radiant.

“I want to grow up to be like that Redbud tree over there,” she’d said. “I want to grow towering and sturdy, with a solid trunk and layers of bark to protect me. I want my bubblegum colored flowers to bloom early each spring, and fill the air with their sweet fragrance.”

I scoffed at the flower, and her childish dreams, and said my goodbyes without ever having asked her name.

Months passed before I met the flower again, but I did cross her path once more. One wretchedly sweltering Saturday in July, in the midst of a horrible drought, I walked the same path as I had when I met my callow little flower.

There was humidity in the air, but not a drop of rain fell to the earth for weeks. When I breathed, I felt as if I could taste it, and that it filled my lungs only with a sticky impostor. I didn’t feel oxygen. I gasped. My clothes clung desperately to the sweat seeping from my pores with each step.

I was just about to turn back in search of a tall ice water, or perhaps a frozen sip of tequila, when I saw her, taller than ever, with her head held high above the other sulking perennials in her company.

She nodded, ever so slightly, in the still, pregnant air, as if she were acknowledging my presence, but did not want me to disturb her.

So I watched. The sun beat down on her. She stared right back at the sun, without batting an eye. The length of her leaves stretched and her pedals grew all the more vivid. She grinned brilliantly as she gazed across the endless sky.

“Excuse me, little flower?” I interrupted her thoughts. “I’m sorry to bother you, but exactly how do you continue to grow so tall, when all your peers are beginning to wilt?”

She smiled, then, directly at me. “I’ve met you once before,” she said softly. “You are the one who sneered at my dream of becoming a tree. I’d never forget you.”

“Why is that?” I asked, surprised. I’m not one to make lasting first impressions.

“It’s hard to forget those who don’t believe,” the flower replied simply.

“Forgive me, pretty flower, but flowers of your kind simply do not grow to be trees.”

She stood taller and more magnificent than I’d seen her.

“That may be true,” she said calmly. She really was a radiant wonder of life. “But it is my dream, and it has done well for me. In my dreams I am the tallest, most beautiful tree as far as I can see. I have more branches than I can count, and they are stable enough for young children to climb and sit. The children come to me with a new book each week, and I read with them on their visits.

I am able to grow as tall as I am while my peers have begun to perish because to me, I am a tree. And I will always be a tree, for without my dream, I am just a simple garden flower.”

I listened, fascinated, as she told me her tale, but began to feel an incredible guilt from my first encounter with my beautiful flower.

“When you first visited me, many months ago, you snickered at me, as many others have. I saw the doubt in your eyes before you ever spoke a word.”

At that moment, I sobbed. “Oh my poor flower!” I choked. “How horribly cruel I am to have discouraged you! How selfish of me to rob you of your happiness, for even a moment!”

I was inconsolable. I had trouble breathing in the summer heatwave already, and was losing more fluid as the seconds lapsed.

But my flower remained calm, poised.

“If you must learn one thing from me, child, learn this,” she began, “I am not broken or perturbed. I urge you to find your tree. i am fabulously advantageous that I have a dream which inspires me to grow.”

I wiped the last few sloppy tears from my face and nodded in compliance to my flower. Graciously, I kissed her pedals and with that, it was time to go. I took three hurried steps before turning back to her.

“What is your name?” I asked, still sniffling from my blubbering lamentation.

“Victoria,” she stated. Victory, a conqueror, I thought. It was perfect and fitting and exactly what I’d hoped would suit her.

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