Not All Stories Have A Happy Ending
“Beautiful, simply beautiful.” Crooned an older gentleman as he adjusted his glasses on his nose. He smacked his mouth as he leaned to one side to get a better view of the flower that floated down from one of the higher bushes. “The color is exceptional, not to mention how flawless the lip is.”
“What do you mean lip grandpa?”
“A lip is a special petal that an orchid uses to attract pollinators. Now come look at this Faye.” Summoning the ten-year-old girl to come closer and look at the orchids, cosmos, and lotus. The girl shuffled closer to his desk with a mini shrub of pink-purple orchids, cosmos, and a rare blue lotus. She let her grandfather pick him up and place her on the workbench in between the plants and her grandfather. She watched as her grandfather explain the parts of the flower. She was interested, but her grandfather’s voice was making her sleepy, his voice was better at telling her bedtime stories.
The grandfather knew that this wasn’t what a regular child would typically like to do on a Saturday afternoon, but hoped and prayed that his enthusiasm would rub off on the child. He noticed his granddaughter’s head dropping as she fought sleep, so he cleared his throat. The girl blinked a few times and with a slight shake of her head and gingerly peered at her grandfather.
“I’m awake grandpa!” she said staring at him with a small smile, you know the ones they do when they pretend, out of politeness. Her grandfather chuckled at the way she pretended, he wanted to embed his legacy into his granddaughter’s mind. A throat cleared and his wife appeared with a smile and a book in hand.
“Would you like to hear a story, Faye?” Her grandmother asked, both their smiles widened when the young girl now was known as Faye smiled brightly at the grandmother’s offer. She loved hearing stories from her grandparents. Her grandmother opened the book, “This story I’m going to read is centered around a mystical land.”
“I want to hear fairy stories!”
“This is a fairy story,” The old lady chuckled, both adults look at one another and smile. The grandmother sat on the bench and placed a cosmos in Faye’s hair. “Now,” she began, ” there was once a handsome king...”
There once was a king who loved nature. He loved it so much, that he would travel often to explore the world, but his favorite place to visit was his water tower that was connected to his palace. The tower had the perfect view to watch over his garden and land. He began to dislike people and slowly distance himself away from his subjects to tend to his garden and watch the sky change color. To win favor with him rulers from other countries would send him the rarest flowers they could find and it was in the garden that the young king cared for them, some rulers would also send terrarium of their kingdom or other places.
Though he cared more for his garden and traveling, than his people he still ruled with a firm and careful hand, while watching the borders of his kingdom. Although it made it seem like he cared about his people, he didn’t, he just wanted to keep his sacred land protected. Every morning after spending time in his tower, he went to the garden to attend to it, then he would walk around his city to admire and collect samples from outside his city walls then he would go visit a neighboring kingdom and collect plants and soil samples if he saw fit. On one of these strolls that a princess from a neighboring kingdom would hide to catch a few glimpses of the king. Once she saw how true the rumors were, she decided that she had to have him and rushed back to the palace to plead and beg her father to have her married to the young king.
Her father was conflicted, his kingdom had already sent a terrarium of a healing lake and he knew the young king wouldn’t even look or show interest in his daughter no matter how lovely she was. The king prayed to any and every deity that he could think of when finally a sorcerer came to the kingdom and offered his assistance, claiming to have a solution to his problem.
The sorcerer gave the princess an intertwining blue lotus and chocolate cosmos, then told her to present herself to the king with this plant in her hands, for three days she must hold onto the plant and must always be seen with it by the king, you can only place it down after sunset on the third day. The princess followed the sorcerer’s instructions and walked up to the gate of the palace with the intertwining flowers in her hands. When the king saw the flower he ordered the princess to come inside his palace. Never in his life had he seen flowers like these, sure he’s seen regular lotus, but not one as striking as this blue gem, nor had he seen a cosmos like the chocolate cosmos. ("The blue lotus is seen as the symbol of the victory of the spirit over the senses, of intelligence and wisdom, of knowledge, while the chocolate cosmos represents deep love like ′I love you more than anyone could.′ Right grandma?" "That's right!) The young king tried to get the girl to get the princess to hand over the plant, but she refused, ‘Let me stay here with you for three days and after the third day you may have the plants.’ She said to the king.
So for three days, the princess stayed and the king ordered her to stay by his side at all times to observe the flowers anytime he wished. At first, she was content staying by the king’s side, but then she started feeling discouraged that the king would only observe until she caught him briefly staring at her. Slowly, but surely the young king began to talk to the princess and he began to enjoy her company. The princess had fallen asleep and placed the plant on the windowsill. She did not realize that another had eyes for the king and when she awoke her plant was gone.
When walking to the meeting spot she and the king had established she walked in to see the king in a tight embrace of a naga (“Naga?” “A snake person, a hybrid of a human and a snake.” “Sounds like a lamia” “Yes and no, back to the story.“) Worse, the naga held the plant making the king no longer interested in the princess, the princess realized that the king didn’t have any affection for her she left and the young king asked the naga to marry him.
On their wedding day, the king made the intertwined flowers the most prized possession and planted it in the center of the garden. It was the crown jewel of his rare collection.
A couple of years later, everything was going well everything was peaceful until the princess he rejected married a rivaling king and tricked him into attacking the kingdom. The king watched as his beautiful countryside he loved so dearly burned from his water palace, his people left to other places to live as they fled. The queen knew that she had to protect her home and family and cast a spell so powerful that surrounded the entire area from the enemy reaching them. They both turned to the snake deity for extra help and protection.
‘In exchange for my help, you both must give up your crowns to your son. Then I will make it so this land can never be again beset upon invaders, but you both will have to leave and leave your valuables, because everything now belongs to the new ruler.’
The snake deity was glad to have her daughter back by her side, but knew that the selfish king would break his side of the deal and set a trap just for him. On the night the king and queen were preparing to head out, the king sent his queen ahead of him then snuck back into the water palace, and walked over to the terrarium collection, and looked over the land once more, before leaving his home for good. Surprising the snake deity, she watched as the king caught up with her daughter and they traveled together getting in the sands of time.
Faye watched her grandmother close the book and get up. Faye blinked a few times, “Grandma that was it? Do they just disappear in a desert? Why don’t they get a happy ending?” Faye stood up so fast it caused the stool to knock over.
"Not every story has a happy ending Faye.”
"What about the garden? The terrariums? What of the son?! Did the snake deity keep her promise? What was the trap she set for the king?"
"I can't answer those Faye, but I know a way you can get your answers." Seeing Faye's eyes gloss over her grandfather stepped in.
"Really? How?" Faye asked crossing her arms.
"Following in my footsteps. If you don't you can never find the answers to your burning questions, now let's set up for lunch." Her grandmother was already inside, while she and her grandfather were talking. Her grandfather walked ahead of her heading into the kitchen.
"Fine." Her grandfather stopped walking and turned to Faye waiting for her to continue to speak, "I'll learn everything that you know and I'll find my ending." Faye declared making her grandfather chuckle and smile.