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The Flower

Jody Campbell

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I don't try to over-think things. Maybe that's my problem. I don't know what my problem is actually. Here is a true-to-life scenario, my reaction to it, and the inevitable outcome. The common denominator is that I'm a shmuck, but at least I admit it.

"Daddy! Look! Flowers! Can I pick one for momma?" She was so excited about the silly flowers.

They were the same stupid tiger lilies that grew in the back yard every summer. I looked at them and saw that at least ten unopened petals were attached to the same stem formation that had a completely sprouted blossom of brilliant orange. If we picked it now, thought my dense incapacitated mind, the rest of the petals will surely die and we will lose all those flowers. Does it make a difference, really? In the long run? Does it? What do I do with these flowers and the large jungle grass plant part of it after the lilies have passed? I mow it down. And what happens the following year whether I do anything about it or not? They grow back. Without effort. They're there every year. Let her pick them my mind said.

"If you pick a flower, " instead my stupid mouth butted in, “we will lose ten others. " Is that something that seems personal to me? No. So what's the big deal? Just looking to ruin a six-year-old's fascination with flowers. A seemingly perfect opportunity to give her mother something thoughtful that cost me . . . what exactly? Ten other blossoms? What did those cost me? Nothing. They came with the stupid house.

To defend my pathetic character . . . let me rephrase that. To . . .defend my . . . oh to hell with it. I can't defend anything about it. It's stupid. Let her pick the damn flower. Why didn't I just say yes? Well . . . I did, so get off my back. But getting back to defending myself . . . or at least why I wanted to try to pathetically. I wrote this stupid story a couple years back. It was called Flowers of Fortune and it was about orange tiger lilies and for some reason after I wrote this stupid story, the tiger lilies in the back yard became . . . sacred ground, I guess. I wanted to count them and see if perhaps my story would inevitably become prophetic. Do you want to know what happened to the protagonist of the story? He died. So why in the hell would I want to see if my story would become prophetic? Do I want to die? Not really. The flowers would grow a new amount of blossoms each day and the main character would dream about the new number of them and decided to play the lottery and won. Except he never got to enjoy the money . . . or even the knowledge that he won, because he was dead long before the lottery drawing. Now that I blew the ending for you . . .in the event you haven't already read this tale of mine, does that make sense to you that for some reason, these stupid flowers became some sacred ritual for me to watch grow and count annually? No. It doesn't make sense to me either. I should have said . . . “Absolutely, honey. Let's pick a bunch of them, " but there was something else niggling me. It said inside the narrow minded container of the interior of my brain that we would be wasting precious flower life if we picked it prematurely and teaching my daughter the importance of wasting and not wasting . . . seemed . . . pathetically important? I'm trying. It's weak, I know. But picking and getting to see one blossom for one day before it died and losing ten other potential blossoms seemed wasteful to me at the time.

At least she won. She had that same injured look she gets from her mother. It's both adorable and irresistible at the same time. Damn that curse on her side of the family!

"Alright, " I gave in. I watched her try to yank one out and I cringed as she almost pulled three square feet of earth and roots up from the ground with her petite but determined hands. “Go get the scissors for daddy, " I suggested. “But don't run with them!"

"Okay, " she exclaimed excitedly and I worried thinking maybe I should have just gone in and got them myself. Do I worry too much, maybe?

She came back out and I grabbed the scissors and thanked her for the chore she completed. I aimed them strategically at the very stem she had tried to excavate on her own behalf a minute or so ago and cut it on an angle. One opened, brilliant, orange blossom, and ten other wasted sprouts never to open I thought. How dense am I?

Pretty dense I found out. Some people that have green thumbs and have picked tiger lilies before can probably already assume the purpose of this writing of mine. I had no idea. We did not indeed waste any flowers at all. As a matter of fact, we picked that flower about four days ago and have enjoyed three different blossoms sprouted and there's another one on the way . . . most likely to sprout and enjoy for tomorrow. They are the flower that keeps on giving . . . as long as they're in water, I guess. One blossom opens and the next day, it closes for good and begins to wither away. With the death of that blossom, it seems to send life to another sprout and begin a life cycle anew. We'll undoubtedly have this one particular stem in our house for well over ten days and have exactly that many days to enjoy that many blossoms.

Today, I have learned an important lesson from my six-year-old. Actually, I've learned a lot of lessons from my six-year-old today. I'm glad she's going to be around to teach her ignorant old man that it's okay to pick the flowers sometimes. It's okay to waste a little bit from time to time . . . especially if it was free to begin with. It's okay to experiment. It's okay to be six-years-old . . . at heart . . . and want to discover new things.

Thanks darling. I have an idea. Let's go pick some more of those flowers before they pass their lifespan in the ground out back. Let's fill our house with the blossoms everywhere. Then I can mow the jungle grass down that much quicker and we can still have some beautiful looking flowers in the house. She may only be six-years-old, but she's a great teacher and my favorite flower.

Jody L. Campbell

JL Campbell is the author of over 50 titles comprised of both fiction and non-fiction. Though he enjoys writing humorous essays, fiction is his first love. Visit to get a taste of Campbell's style. Enjoy two of his short stories titled The Room and The Dying Man and get a glimpse of his novel Season of the Sand Devil.


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