A girl’s ambition to become a flower becomes reality in this short story by Mia Valodia Wessels van Zijl.
“What would you all like to be when you grow up?” the sweet, yet tired, teacher asked her class of elementary students.
Came the answers in excited anticipation.
The teacher silently chuckled and smiled at their youth. She then turned her head to the quiet girl at the back of the class. “And you, my dear.”
“A flower,” was the soft response. The teacher smiled and remarked how adorable that was.
“So, what are you all dreaming to be for the future?” the sweet and drozy teacher asked her juniors.
“And you?” was asked once again of the girl in the back.
“A flower, ma’am.”
“Ha ha, that’s very sweet, but you’ll have to consider these things a bit more seriously from now on.”
“Well, then? What careers will you all be choosing?” came the bitter and exhausted question for the classroom of matriculants.
“I’ve been accepted into a class for potential, debuting actors.”
“I’ve sent my qualifications to the police academy. I’m getting my results in a few weeks.”
“My grandfather owns a farm in the country side. I’ll be helping him while taking over after the school year.”
“Well done, you all. And you?”
“Really!” the teacher exclaimed and scolded out, “This aloof carelessness has gone on long enough! You’re running out of time to decide what you’ll be doing with your life!”
She couldn’t understand everyone’s aversion to her career choice. A flower was pretty, took up little space and added to the scenery. What was so wrong with that?
In frustration she gently kicked a pebble out of her way. It didn’t go very far so she got to kick it again. A comfortable rhythm started, thus she found herself casually walking behind this pebble, following its train of motion. By the time she looked up she was in a quiet part of towns; few houses and fancy parked cars.
The sound of sweet humming and running water caught her ear. A pair of eyes locked onto another over a Bougainvillea hedge.
It was a girl, about her age, watering a massive garden that contained every flower in existence. Her eyes seemed to reflect the array of vibrant colours of the wildlife around her. She appeared to be illuminated by a mysterious glow.
Entranced by this flowered creature she opened her mouth to speak. When nothing worthy enough to say came to mind she went with the first thing that popped into her mind.
“What would you like to be when you grow up?”
At first was startled silence, then contemplation, then, “I dunno. Why do I have to be anything? Can’t I just spend the rest of my life watering this garden?”
A giggle escaped her as she appreciated the shared simplicity of their answers.
“What about you?” the nymph-girl asked?
“A flower,” she answered, more confident and certain of her resolve than ever.
This answer was thoroughly considered and weighed before a response came. “What about the winter? Won’t the first snow freeze your roots?”
“I suppose, but I’ve never excelled at, or aspired towards anything. I don’t think roots like mine would be greatly missed.”
“Well, not really. Even a flower plays its part in life: oxygen, photosynthesis, pollination. I think the bees, especially, would miss a flower like that.”
She thought about that for a while. Something inside her, ancient and unmotivated, opened up one sleepy eye into the warm sunlight. “Then, how does something so fragile survive a storm?”
“She just needs a greenhouse; keep her warm during winter, hydrated during autumn, watch over her during summer and let her wander freely during spring.”
Her logic was so sure-footed, it was impossible to argue with.
“You got one? A greenhouse?” she asked the nymph and received a smile as extraordinary and heart-shaking as the ocean.
The time for growing up came and went and the flower remained comfortably beside the nymph, who sang to her till the end of all time.
In her dream-like writings 18-year-old Mia Valodia Wessels van Zijl transports readers to a more poetic reality. As a child Mia had dreams of becoming a milkman. She now plans to become a professor of English.