Marguerite was known for her magnificent flowerbeds. Every shape and size held court, not one diminished by another for its size or stature. She honored them all with the attention of a good friend and fair lover. They were forever in bloom, as all flowers were at that time. Never a petal fell, not one ever released or given up. Never a blossom drooped in any pot or plot across the valley. They lived under the sun and smiled through the snow. But stayed their place, as all good flowers should.
Until, that is, the morning following the night before, whether by reason or dreaminess, Marguerite neglected to close her dining room window on her way to slumber. When the sky turned creamsicle shades against the heliotrope and azure sky and birds raised their chants to welcome a new day, Marguerite turned her eye to the dining room window knowing an addition filled space once empty.
On the sill facing south, in a Delft blue earthenware vessel, sat a daisy so fair, so perfectly shaped, so splendidly flowery that children would be drawn to peek inside, especially as cool fall breezes allowed for open windows and curious eyes.
It was a Cape Daisy, lightly tinted lavender with a purple eye so deep it could almost could have been an ebony marble. No one had known this flower before it showed up on Marguerite’s sill. That morning it was just there. Marguerite smiled at her whimsy of leaving the window open with little worry of Night Visitors that sometimes made themselves at home.
Once when Marguerite left the window open, Night Visitors reveled under a sleepy moon through her house until all her dishes were upside down stacked one on top of another with such precision that one little tick, one little puff would have sent them tumbling. But Marguerite was a kind soul and moved with such gentleness that even the most busy of souls stopped and took a deep breath as she passed by. There was no fear of tumbling. The dishes barely clinked as she lightly set them once more into their correct places.
So it was on the morning of the first day of the Cape Daisy that Marguerite pulled a chair up to the lacy draped sill for a visit.
“Hello.” Marguerite folded her hands gently in her lap.
The Cape Daisy nodded. Marguerite recognized the reply. Others would have attributed it to the breeze.
“Thank you for coming to stay. I hope you will enjoy yourself.”
Marguerite picked up her crochet needle with thread so fine, the children thought she created cloths made of spider silk.
And there Marguerite sat for most of the morning with her new friend until the lunch bell rang and school children began their trek home for their afternoon repast, a nap, and then back again for their remaining lessons.
Marguerite, too, disappeared into the kitchen for her lunch.
“I’ll be back soon. I’ll bring with me some lemon water when I return. You will like it. It’s good for your system.”
As Marguerite left, she didn’t see the Cape Daisy turn its head toward her exit, nor the slight shiver running down its stem at being left alone. The Cape Daisy is also a delicate soul and once a friend is made, even a short time apart is a sorrow for the Cape Daisy.
But as promised, and Marguerite never let a promise float away, she returned with a glass of warm lemon water. Somehow she knew the perfect temperature. As she approached the Cape Daisy she noticed a tear-shaped petal from the perfectly ruffled face had slipped to the floor.
“Oh, my, I shouldn’t have taken so long to bring you your lemon water.”
She poured the water around the graceful stem and it gurgled down into the thick loam.
“Ah, that’s better now, isn’t it?”
Marguerite lifted the tear-shaped petal from the floor and walked to the bookcase.
“Let’s see. Yes. Here. This is the one.”
Marguerite opened a photo album. It had photos of every type of flower one could imagine, and they all forever lived in her garden. She kept photos to remember her lovely friends in the depth of winter. Because, even though they never lost a petal or a leaf, Marguerite preferred the warm winter fire to boots and coats and scarves and mittened hands holding her shaking stick used to lighten the load of snow from her garden mates.
She turned to the first blank page of the album and lifted the clear cover and placed the Cape Daisy’s tear-shaped petal on the sticky paper.
“For safe keeping.”
And then she turned back to the Cape Daisy.
It was dancing. Although anyone else would have said it was the children laughing and giggling and touching its petals that made it move, Marguerite knew better.
“Hurry, the bell is going to ring. You don’t want to be late. You can visit the Cape Daisy again tomorrow.”
And the children skittered away and the Cape Daisy sighed. Although anyone else would have said it was the door closing at the school across the street.
And this went on for days, fourteen exactly.
One day for each tear-shaped petal surrounding the deep purple eye of the Cape Daisy. Sometimes the petal blew further into the house to remind Marguerite to return. Other times it lifted with the breeze to the back porch as Marguerite read Shakespeare. It would land exactly where her eyes met the poetry on the page. And she would return to the Cape Daisy and read aloud until dinnertime. No matter where Marguerite moved, even when she visited the farmer’s market for some fresh eggplant, she would find a lavender tear-shaped petal resting in her sight.
Marguerite continued to place the tear-shaped petals in the album drawing a perfect remembrance of the Cape Daisy. She began to worry what would happen to her friend once all the petals fell. When there was only one petal left, she thought she should stay with the Cape Daisy and never leave it. But that is not what life is about. One must trust that all will be well.
On the last day, when all that was left was the deep purple eye, Marguerite sat with her crochet needle and hummed a lullaby. For she knew it was time for the Cape Daisy to rest.
When she finished, Marguerite snipped the deep purple eye off the now fragile and wilting stem and wrapped in a spider cloth. She strode to a new garden plot she had prepared. Marguerite buried the eye not too deep, but just right. She didn’t know what would happen, but somehow she knew this was the right way.
In the middle of winter, when fire burned warm and Marguerite sipped a big mug of hot chocolate with homemade chocolate marshmallows, she would first wander through her picture book of flowers. Then with a spider cloth in hand, she would visit each tear-shaped petal of the pieced together flowers the Night Visitors continued to leave on her window sill through the fall and remember their gentle and grace-filled presence.
In the spring, Marguerite and the children, as well as everyone from near and far, rejoiced in the new gardens. And the old flowers, that refused to release their beauty, surrendered now understanding the promise of new birth.
You see ardent flowers are great and sincere friends with tender hearts. When their loved ones leave their presence, it’s too much sorrow to bear. Not wanting their loved one to lose their way back to them, their tear-shaped petals mark the journey home trusting all will be well. And so, this is the wisdom of the first flower who lost its petals.
Oh, how I love our writer’s group. With busy schedules what was once a week meeting, now is a infrequent pleasure. We need to gather more often.
Today it was my turn to bring the prompts. I found a set of interesting prompts from
http://www.writerswrite.co.za. It was 20 Prompts for Writing Myths, cut into strips and each one of the writers picked one. Mine was to explain why flowers lose their petals. Perfect for the gardener in me.