Pressing Flowers (It Started With a Flower)
The little girl heard laughter in the forest. In a clearing of beautiful flowers she saw the woman dancing, her sheer dress swirling around her like shimmering water, her long hair flowing with her graceful movements. The woman smiled as she saw her and beckoned her forward.
“The flowers are very beautiful, aren’t they?” The woman asked her with a tone as warm as the rays of the sun.
“Yes,” she responded, gazing down toward the colorful flora, all fragrant and bright.
“Would you like to take one home?” The woman carefully plucked the vibrant flower from the ground, its petals the velvet incarnation of the blue midday sky. The little girl took it and carried it with her back to her house, eager to cherish and own its wild beauty.
A week passed and again she found the dancing woman amid the flowers.
“Why so dejected?” The woman chided playfully, her voice a birdsong in the trees.
“My flower died,” the little girl answered, her eyes downcast. The woman showed a frown on her mouth alone, the cheer of her demeanor still lighting her eyes.
“I’m afraid that’s just the nature of it when you take a flower for yourself,” she explained with warmth. “But here, let me show you how to keep them beautiful.” Her smile returned with her offer and the two pressed wild flowers together through the blooming months in their private woodland garden.
The rain came and went, followed by the snow, and soon it was time for new life. The little girl was older when she found her dancing woman in the forest again.
“I love the sounds of the birds in the trees, and how gorgeous their feathers are,” the little girl mused. “I wish I could take one home to be mine.”
The woman beamed brightly at her.
“Do you remember how we kept your flowers so beautiful and fragrant for you? A bird takes a little more, but here, let me show you how.”
So they spent the day together in the flowers in the woods, and when they were done the little girl brought her new bird home. And her mother cried. And her father yelled.
“They are only unhappy because you need more practice,” the woman soothed her gently the next day. “I told you it would be harder than the flowers. When it is perfect, then they will be happy. You will see.”
So they practiced on and on throughout the months in their secret land of fragrant and beautiful flora. Finally the little girl brought home her perfect bird, plucked from the wild and kept vibrant in color and song. And her parents smiled as they saw it, though they did not understand fully what she meant when she told them it was hers.
The years passed and she became a young girl out in the woods with her woman whose hair flowed like a veil when she danced. She watched the wild horses pass through, noble and handsome in their power and grace, and she sighed, wistful and longing.
“I wish I could take one home for myself.”
And the woman in her dress as sheer as water smiled.
Seasons rolled by and the young girl, now a young woman, rode her noble and handsome steed through the forest trails, following the voice of the woman who sang like the songbirds in the trees. They sat in their patch of wild flowers and the young woman spoke of a boy with beautiful eyes and a charming laugh.
“I wish he were mine,” she said.
And the woman whose eyes always sparkled with warmth beamed.
Now she was herself a grown woman. She stood in the woods, ones different from the forest of her childhood, but still beside the one who always smiled, who always danced, but who never aged. They stood together in a patch of skeletal trees and bleached bones facing His throne, and He sat regal and resplendent before them. And she saw the blazing fires of His eyes as they burned behind the blindfold, and she basked in His radiance that rivaled the sun in the sky, and she felt His voice rumble within her bones as He spoke.
“Child who tore the wild flowers,” He said, “who caged the birds and broke the horses, who conquered what she thought she loved.” He extended a hand to her and the sun darkened, the forest around them lit only by His searing presence. “Don’t you see the beauty still wild and free in this world? Don’t you yearn to take it and make it yours?”
The woman in the sheer dress, with the voice of a songbird and eyes that were always alight, beamed at her. The grown woman looked between them both. She thought of the pressed flowers in her books, and of her caged and singing birds, and of her tethered and noble horses, and of the boy with beautiful eyes who still awaited her at home.
And she smiled, too.