by Madeline Laughs
I hear all of the pretty words he showers in my direction. They soak me with determination and I am intrigued enough to pay attention. They land on my shoulders and between my eyes and some even bounce against my heart and they stick there, trickling down to land and disappear into splashes .
Pretty words, compliments and promises.
The younger me was knocked from her roots, floating like dandelion seeds along the current of rushing dialogue, eating syllables like sweet, sinful bonbons. With every deliciously decadent bite feeling full with words that every blossom longs to hear. Sated with flattery and praise, bloated enough to fly into the clouds and burp adjectives into the hemisphere. Giving birth to flowers everywhere with the hope and promise that someday the pretty, regurgitated words will be theirs, and theirs alone.
Youth does have it’s share of gullibility and naivete. The years yet to come have not removed the shine of charm or the gleam of innocence. They are forever seeking acclamation and approval to pad their resume. Youth is the hoover of mirrors and reflections of whatever adds to the allure of their blooms versus every other conjugated stem waiting in line for the honey bee to buzz close enough to smell their teen spirit.
The press of soil on a bulb that has predictably risen each year for the occasion of spring after a long winter nap is almost like love itself. Pushing through the layers of the years above with renewed vigor the bulb delivers the green of youth, but holds the secret of longevity close to her bosom.
She knows the power of words.
The insecticide of grammar kills the pests that hamper the newly curled leaves while the toxic chemical drops leech into the soil around her tender trunk. Leaning into the sunlight to become stronger in her fight to find the words she needs to survive a summer of meaningless conversation, she opens her petals to catch the rain of a serious discussion.
She opens her mouth to participate. She wants to contribute something sensible to the den of rumbling all around her. Must everyone be the most exotic? Are the annuals all so special that they don’t have to look around at the everlasting perennials for a reality check? She’ll be here next year, but planted next to her will be some impulse purchase meant to brighten an otherwise vacant and lonely spot.
Who cares to give this strumpet the time of day? When the cold winds blow insults and condemnations in this direction and she curls in blackness to her safe haven, where will this one go? Scattered to the four seasons never to return and easily replaced by another just as colorful and scented when the sun warms the earth once more.
But she knows who cares.
Peppered with the ash of discourse she turns in concern to her new neighbor. Towering above her with vigor the cornflower pollinates colloquy in every corner while she sits quietly under siege. Can this flower not see the mess she’s making? Has she forgotten that her life here will only last from seed to seed? Why does she behave as if the mere act of dead heading will prolong her part of this landscape beyond the paragraph she has been chosen to fulfill?
The pretty words skitter and spin and land next to the flowerbed with a flourish. Petals ruffle with the snap of each tender pluck and the perennial in her stretches and spreads the pink wings of womanhood in all of it’s glory.
Encouraging remarks brush by the fine hairs of her neck. Shivering with the beauty of eloquence, closing her eyes to all that swoops in around her, she listens only to what she happily hears. She drinks from the watering can of sweet, candy-coated drops until she is dizzy with confabulated tidings. Tiny vines tug at her with hisses, whispering necrotic warnings should she give in to the appreciative flattery and end up in a vase on some end table with all the rest of the silly blossoms now hanging limply, dying in the hand of the one that would collect you only for their own selfish pleasures.
Is this not the fate she lives for?
Straining under the weight of being a flower like so many others she catches the pretty words dancing around the edging in another direction far from her place here in the scheme of things. The pretty words are the same for over there as they were once right in front of her. How can that be? We are all the same, but very different indeed. Why would he have enticing and original syntax for her that vocalized in the same breath an acre away? He found her here underneath the foliage of so many others and admired her in a most direct manner.
Was she not worthy of a day or two nestled in the bouquet that could prove she bloomed for a reason, a purpose? Could he not pluck her up and into his arms? She was not thorny. Her scent, while delicate and light, was just as heady as anyone else. Why would he coo so poetically of her grace only to pass her by and declare the same to one not nearly as elegant and refined as she surely was?
That is the churlish prerogative of those that do the plucking and picking and choosing, that’s why.
Plant yourself in a position of only living to be picked beyond anything else of merit that could bring real meaning to your lifespan and you will be destined to forever long for a lifeless story book in a pretty vase.
Don’t sleep the cold months away under a blanket of commercial junk while the other trees are storing maple syrup novels and sweating leaves for compost. Tune your antennas and listen for news of propagation and irrigation. Know the good spots to catch the evening sunset and soak up classics while the day is still young and full of hearty commitment.
Most important is learning the right time to be let go of your choice independence.
When the pickers come calling, smile as they drench your tender fronds with their insincere praise and hold fast to your patch of grass. The pickers will never give you more than a bit of of their tap as you languish gathering dust on your wilting youth in a dime store crystal prison. Shoved into a space next to all of the others that have come before you. Seduced into what every flower is told it must want.
Stand tall and green in your ground until that one special person comes along that admires you for what you are. Unique and special and worthy of being the start of something more than the sum of all of your parts. Be patient because this one will stop by and the desire to woo you into his pocket, not just a flower plucked for the short term, but a bulb dug from the earth to be planted again in another piece of library land where he harvests volumes for reference and higher learning.
May the power of words make your flowerbed intelligent and discerning, shunning the occasionally lost garden gnome looking for a bit of pretty to scent the only night he makes available as he flits from one shy, tender bud to the next, breaking stems and leaving naked, barren dirt in his path.
Note: I hope you enjoyed my whimsy and I hope you clearly understand the message I have tried to weave into this story. I find it is important to be aware that a careless and easy compliment is merely a beguiling invitation to give away the one thing most precious to you for a brief moment of empty attention. Hold out for that one person that wants to give you a lifetime of happiness and attention. They are out there and they are looking for a bouquet of posies just like you.
You are sacred.
Allow someone to hold you sacred.