“This is it.”
I frowned doubtfully, looking down at the little plant she pinched tenderly in the fingers of both hands, held gently before her midsection in a way that made me think of a bride, though I couldn’t think of a bride I’d ever seen so blithely calm with what was before her, or with such poorly kept nailpolish, the red chipped and in some spots clearly deliberately scraped away. It was… well, a dandelion, really. Small, simple, a burst of yellow ragged-edged petals atop a thin, tough green stem.
“It’s not what you were expecting?” she prodded gently, and I could hear the muted runnel of laughter under her words, her amusement mostly suppressed for my benefit, though not entirely.
“Of course it’s not!” I declared throwing my hands up for a moment in agitation. “I mean, LOOK at it – it’s just a flower!”
“It only looks and feels and smells and sounds and tastes like a flower-”
“…yes, tastes, but don’t interrupt me like that. It’s rude.”
“I’ve always thought dandelions would taste like crap.”
“Why? People make salads and wine from dandelions.”
“That doesn’t mean it tastes good.”
“People don’t usually make habits of eating things that don’t taste good.”
“Are you kidding me? Of course they do! Caviar. Kimchee. Chain coffee.”
“Fair enough. But dandelions don’t taste like crap. Well, not entirely, the stems are pretty gross. But we’re getting off the subject.”
“Sorry. It’s just… I was expecting something bigger. Something more. Something not so thing-I-always-try-to-uproot-from-the-front-lawn.”
“That’s sort of the point. It isn’t ever going to be what you’re expecting, entirely. That’s what makes it fun. Now there’s the old one, just next to your foot. You nearly trod on it, actually.”
She didn’t bother to hide her peal of laughter as I backpedaled away from it so fast I nearly fell on my ass.
“It’s more resilient than you think, chill out. Just be ready, because it’s almost time. Do you hear them?”
“I can,” and I could distantly, countless voices counting backwards in a hundred languages, and I knelt next to the white puffball she’d pointed out, while she crouched with the flower.
“Why a dandelion? Why that flower specifically?”
The chanting dropped into the single digits, and I hunched with pursed lips while she drove a finger into the dirt, and began to settle the new flower in while I exhaled the stream of tufted seeds into the air, and she murmured, “It just seems right, for a new year; it looks like their sun.”
The last few seeds floated up and away into the air, while she patted the dirt into place around the flower’s stem and roots. “Anyway, next year it will be your turn; you can certainly choose something else, if you want.” She lay her head upon the dirt, and began to crumble into it, form becoming dark, rich loam to feed the coming days, and I nodded, watching one seed drifting down to settle into it near the flower.
“Next year is mine, this year was yours.” I ran my fingers through my hair as I stood, and looked thoughtfully at the nails. A bit of polish wouldn’t look half bad. Maybe it might even make it through the year intact.
This was written as part of the 31 Things In 31 Days project, being run on the page of the same name on Google+. For more information or to participate, go there.
Day One’s prompt: