Here’s my second Pay It Forward 2015 offering. This is a short story I wrote for Heather Garrod.
I just thought of Heather and a dream someone had mentioned to me the other day came to mind. I decided to combine the two plus a twist of my own.
The Wisdom of the Flowers
It was as simple as that. She knew in her heart that there was more to the world that we could see with our eyes. She would often see things that others couldn’t, sense things that weren’t physically there. It had always been this way.
It was why she wasn’t particularly surprised to see the woman sitting in her garden.
For Heather, scents were as spiritual as anything else, even more so. There was something about the aromas of certain plants that were able to calm, to ignite or even heal. She had always grown plants and different types of flowers. They were part of the way she got in touch with her spirit.
She had gathered her gardening tools (gloves, trowel and scissors for clipping dead leaves and weeds) and stepped out her back door. She smelled the garden first, that delicious scent of wonder. The air smelled of lilacs and orange blossom and filled her with joy.
It was as she was coming around the back of the house to the garden proper that she saw the woman sitting under a large oak tree in the centre of her garden. This was unusual for two reasons: She had never planted a tree in her garden and her gates had been locked.
Heather approached the woman slowly. She was sitting in a rocking chair and she moved it slowly back and forth. It seemed to be creating a small breeze that blew even more scent towards her. She wasn’t afraid, only curious.
The woman saw her coming closer and smiled broadly. A light came from her, emanating from somewhere within. She waved at Heather. “Come closer dear. It’s all right.”
Heather knew it was, so she walked closer. As she did, the breeze that surrounded the old woman increased. To Heather, it felt as if it were welcoming her. She stood in front of the old woman, the breeze growing stronger. “Who are you?” Heather whispered.
The old woman smiled. “I am called many things. Maiden, mother, crone. The old woman, the nurturer, the princess. I’ve come to answer your questions.”
“I don’t have any.”
“Oh, sure you do. We all do! Where are we going in this life? How will we get there? Will I find love? You humans are a species that always wants to know more. That’s a great thing to have, never lose that curiosity.”
The breeze blew across her face, almost as if it were caressing her cheek. She smelled honeysuckle and iris blossoms. Heather asked the question that was burning on her tongue. “What are you?”
“Oh, to that I can give you a proper answer. I’m a dryad. I am alive only when I am near my body.” She patted the trunk of the oak tree. “I can wander for short periods, but never very far away.”
Heather let out a small breath she had not been aware that she’d been holding in . “How did your tree come to be here?”
“How did any of us come to be here? No one really knows. Science is a great way of explaining magic, don’t you think? But enough gibber jabber. You have questions. Come, have a seat.”
Heather looked down and saw a tree stump where there hadn’t been one before. Rather than sitting on the flowers that had been there before, they now grew around the stump. Heather nodded and sat down, the sun warm on her face.
Sitting this close to her, Heather noticed what she hadn’t before: the old woman’s skin was like the back of the oak tree, her hair like the leaves that grew from it. Her eyes were green like the sap that ran through the tree.
The old woman pulled out a cloth bag from the folds of her dress. “Let’s see what’s in store for you, hey?”
“I’ve had my tarot cards read a few times.”
Shaking her head, the old woman let out a chuckle. “That’s fine dear, but I don’t read the Tarot. I read the flowers instead.”
“You can’t read flowers. They have healing properties, but it’s not like they’re magical.”
“It’s because they have healing properties that makes them magical. You know this, dear. Now, reach into the bag and pull out five petals and we’ll see what’s coming your way, hmmm?”
Nodding, Heather reached into the bag and pulled out a petal. They were white and shaped almost like silver dollars. “I’ve never seen petals like this.”
“That’s because they aren’t petals yet, they have to become. Pull four more and place them in a line on the table.”
“Table? There isn’t one.”
The old woman looked down. “Oh, silly me, hold on a tic.”
She waved her hands and a branch grew out of the ground between them. A leaf began to grow from the end of the branch. It grew larger and, as the leaf settled, it lay on its side and flattened out, making a perfect table top.
Heather had never seen anything like it. She took a breath and drew out four more petals, putting the five of them on the leaf table top. Then she looked up at the old woman. “What do I do now?”
“Well, you turn them over of course. You said you had experience with Tarot cards? This works the same way.”
Heather took a breath and turned over the first petal. There was a shimmer and then colour began to grow from the middle of the petal. As it flowed to the edges, it changed shape. When it was done, there was another little shimmer and the breeze stopped flowing around them, almost as if it was afraid to disturb the petals.
The old woman smiled. “A Begonia petal. That’s a lovely start, wouldn’t you say?”
“What does it mean?”
“Why it stands for rich, hidden treasures that you’ll find on your path through happenstance. It promises something rare and beautiful. Flip the next one.”
Heather did and watched it shimmer and turn from white to a deeper, creamer white. She knew this one. “Calla Lily.”
“Quite right dear. Another beautiful one. It symbolises a well of deep knowledge and intuition. It catches your dreams and holds on to them and speaks of your beauty, both of heart and soul. Draw the next one dear.”
Heather reached for the third petal. When she flipped it over, it turned into a beautiful light purple petal. She knew what these were, too. “Crocus flower. What does this one symbolize?”
“It’s a powerful symbol. Many believe this flower brings about openness, to capturing the goodness in life and all that is part of it. It’s a powerful flower. Draw the next one.”
She reached for the fourth petal and this time, she felt the woosh of magic all the way up her arm. The petal turned a beautiful shade of pink with an outline of yellow. She immediately felt more cheerful upon seeing this and wanted nothing more than to smile.
“Quite right dear. You see, I knew this wouldn’t be wasted on you with all your knowledge of flowers. Sometimes when people see flowers floating past them in the air, they don’t pay attention to what they could mean. Just because flowers can’t speak doesn’t mean they don’t have a voice.”
“What is this one trying to tell me?”
“It represents joy. Pure happiness fully realized. It’s about your dream realized, every step of the way, seeing beauty in everything and celebrating the small things in life.” She motioned with her hand at the remaining petal. “Turn the last one dear.”
Heather turned it over and watched as turned purple at the tip and white at the end. She would know that smell anywhere. “Freesia.”
“That’s right dear. This is one of my favourite flowers. It is the flower of trust. You are being guided by force of the cosmos on your path and you have to trust that everything is unfolding as it is supposed to. Trust yourself, you already know where you’re going.”
The old woman stood. “Well, my dear, I must be getting back.”
“But what does all this mean? What are the flowers trying to tell me?”
She smiled and it was a warm, beautiful smile. “You’ve had Tarot card readings done before?”
“Much like Tarot cards, their meaning is up for your interpretation. However, I’d say one thing is clear: we can expect great things from you.”
The old woman reached down and collected the petals. Then she pressed her hands together. When she drew them apart, all five petals hung on a silver chain like charms. “This is for you. So you will never forget the wisdom the flowers have bestowed upon you.”
Taking the chain from the old woman, Heather power emanating from her. “Will I see you again?”
“Perhaps. Perhaps not. Know that I’m watching over you regardless of whether or not you do. You are never alone, child. Know that, too.”
“I will, thank you.”
“Now, perhaps it’s time for you to open your eyes, hmmm? You don’t want to spend all day sleeping in the sunshine do you?”
Heather woke. She was sitting in a deck chair that she didn’t remember moving. It was sitting on the edge of the garden. She did notice one plant she hadn’t before: a small shoot of a tree. Heather was sure if she looked up what kind of tree it was, it would be an oak tree.
Standing to get up, Heather felt something around her neck. She put her hand up and felt what was there. A chain.
Taking it off, she saw that she held a silver chain with five charms dangling from it, each shaped like a different flower petal.
She looked down at the little tree. “Thank you.” She whispered.
Picking up her tools, she set to work weeding the garden, feeling that all was right, or would be, with the world.