Since I just posted an excerpt from Ditch Flowers, I thought I’d also share a short sneak peek at my newest story, The Peony and the Sun, a “commuter fiction” (totally unsexy name for short stories that take 15-30 minutes to read) about a flower and those around her. Please, give it a read 🙂
The Peony and the Sun
There was once a flower who fell in love.
When she was born, under a flowering crabapple tree near the center of the garden, all the other flowers looked at her in wonder. She was the most beautiful flower they had ever seen. Her petals were as pink as the edges of sunrise; they were perfect ruffles of delicate lace. Her leaves and stem were a rich green, and she moved gently in the wind.
The flowers praised her in awed, hushed tones—which was quite something, since flowers are notoriously vain. They would much rather compliment themselves than one another.
The flower, whose name was Peony, cast her eyes downward, and smiled shyly, but she fluttered her petals all the same, for she quite liked being admired. However, most of all, she wanted to know love. She’d known the longing for it from her first breath.
* * *
Peony grew strong, tall, and curious, and more beautiful every day. Her parents sheltered her at first but as she matured, they allowed her plenty of freedom. It was not unusual for her to talk to the other flowers in the garden all day long, and she even made friends with an insect or two, and once had a particularly interesting conversation with a robin. But still, Peony felt keenly that something was missing. During the days, she heard the laughter of a child nearby and, though she had no cause for unhappiness, she ached to feel that kind of joy—a joy that would come with love. She needed connection as much as she needed sunlight, shade, water, and air.
One day, she looked up to see someone she had never met before towering over her. He was a stranger, but he did not seem strange to her. He had brilliant golden petals and brown eyes.
“Oh!” She gasped. “Who are you?”
“I am Sunflower,” he said, bowing quite majestically.
“You are the sun,” she said.
He looked down at her and smiled lovingly. To him, she was the sun.
Sunflower leaned closer, and Peony stared at him, unable to catch her breath. He uncurled one of his leaves and entwined it with her own. Her heart bloomed, and she laughed out loud. In that moment, she had become pure joy. Her petals turned a touch darker.
* * *
They made each other smile every day. With his rich, contrasting colors, and her delicate softness, they made a handsome pair. He was commanding and powerful. She was the heart come to life—tender, and achingly beautiful. The other flowers in the garden teased them kindly, but let it be known they approved. Sunflower was a fine fellow—a good match for their beloved Peony. She only had eyes for him. Happiness bloomed all around her, but most of all, within.
When she asked Sunflower where he had come from, he said he was born from the sun, and it was clearly true. The sun was bright, and powerful, and sometimes it scared her how much she loved it. Sunflower could be too bright at times, and sometimes the depth of her love for him did scare Peony, but she was young, and out of everything in the whole, great world, she had seen nothing but her sheltered garden. To her, their love was the only love. She looked at Sunflower in a way no one else would look at him for the rest of his life, and he was a lucky flower, indeed.
For a long time, they were happy.
* * *
But, as stated before, flowers are vain creatures. And when an adult human came into the garden, the flowers around Peony preened like birds for his attention. They knew humans, especially the grown kind, could be dangerous, but they seemed to forget momentarily. Sunflower remembered. And he said in a panic, “Look away! Hide yourself!”
The other flowers heeded his warning, and some even cowered in fear as the strange being’s trampling feet came nearer. But Peony didn’t look away. She’d never seen a human so close before.
Her leaves trembled in excitement. The human leaned over her, and she knew with a kind of dazzling fright that he had chosen her. She was the most beautiful flower in the garden, after all.
Sunflower hissed at her, “Stop showing off! Or you’ll be sorry.”
Why should she be sorry? She peered behind the human at Sunflower, but he refused to look at her. Was he envious that she showed her beauty off to a human instead of him? Perhaps even jealous the human preferred her? Or was he actually frightened she would be harmed? If he was really afraid for her, why wasn’t he doing anything? Why didn’t he try to save her, if he loved her so much?
Sunflower didn’t seem so powerful now, and Peony’s heart dropped in disappointment. Why wasn’t he doing anything?
Peony looked toward the human and fluffed up her petals in a bold display. There. She might be the prettiest, most dainty thing in the garden, but she was no coward. She was strong. She wasn’t afraid. Let Sunflower shrink away in fear. When this was all over, she would laugh at him and then soothe his wounded pride—but he would have to apologize first and kiss her gently. He had let her down, after all. But she would forgive him. As soon as the human man left, she would make up her mind to do so.
The man reached out his hand and picked her.
* * *
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Thanks for reading!