Tag Archives: flowers

Parade of a Thousand Orchids (Revision)

Basil was a British man, fascinated with flowers and Orientalism. He had the amazing talent of rambling over a pint about the effects of Chinese philosophy and trade on the Western world. “I see,” I would tell him, smiling and nodding as he continued. Basil was my guide, and we were about to attend what he called “the most amazing and elaborate festival in this part of Asia:” The Parade of a Thousand Orchids.

“It’s a flower festival celebrating the beauty and prosperity of the village and its women.” His hands swooped across the rice paddies, gesturing toward something that only existed in his mind. “Seamstresses work almost the entire year to make these dresses. Of course, these are all made of passion rather than the daily affairs of sewing and hemming!” He laughed. I laughed, too, not wanting to seem impolite. I wasn’t particularly interested in flowers or seamstresses, but I did enjoy women and a good parade every now and again.

We arrived an hour early. Even so, the streets were crowded, but only with men. In fact, I couldn’t see a single woman. Even the very young and old seemed to be preparing for the parade. The entire time we waited, Basil rambled in my ear. I wished I had a pint or at least someone to talk to other than my giddy-as-a-schoolboy guide.

As the hour came to a close, the men’s idle chatter boomed into rigorous hollering. Basil said that they were calling the women out, though the women would not come out until the felt the men were suitably loud. I felt out of place standing there quietly with Basil, but then I wasn’t even sure what the men around me were shouting. I wouldn’t want to shout the wrong thing about some guy’s wife.

The first to emerge into the town center were the youngest wives and women of marrying age. They wore red aprons over their white dresses. For some reason, even in their shy demeanor, their dress and actions seemed a little suggestive at times. Even though the dresses went no higher than the ankles, it always seemed like they kept having to hold them down or they’d fly away.

Dendrobium Frosty Dawn,” Basil whispered. I scratched at my chin hairs and nodded sagely. The words meant nothing to me, really, but I let him go on.

Behind the first group of women was a chipper group of little yellow dresses. “Macradenia multiflora,” Basil whispered again. I felt as if we were at the cinema and he was spoiling the plot. I was thankful that he was trying to educate me, but I would have preferred to enjoy the parade without him interrupting.

The second entourage held all the young girls of the village, three-year-olds holding hands with fourteen-year-olds, six-year-olds orbiting around eight-year-olds. A lot of them looked like they’d sewn their dresses together themselves. The older girls stared firmly at the backs of the Frosty Dawn women or at the ground. The younger girls looked up at their older counterparts or proudly out at the men, who applauded violently in their presence.

The next group was much smaller: it was the pregnant women. Some of them looked like they could have belonged with the Frosty Dawn girls. Others were clearly about to pop and had to walk with their hands supporting their impressive bellies. Their maternity clothes were golden bronze at the sleeves, white shawls at the shoulders, and the bright yellow around their stomachs.

Paphiopedilum villosum. Beautiful,” Basil whispered in excitement. I wanted to brush him off like a gnat.

“Oh!” he exclaimed, then covered his mouth, even though the men around him were shouting loud as firecrackers. “These are the matrons of the village. Cattleya violacea.” Basil spoke the name with subdued reverence. To me, they were just a flock of old birds. Someone made them nice dresses, though. Or, most likely they made them. They were royal purple, the silk hems rippled like water as they walked. Each fold of their clothing suggested a deeper shade of purple layered within the first. As the women strode forward, the deeper layers presented themselves more clearly. The men organized into a chant like a vocal version of the wave, and I couldn’t even hear Basil anymore.

Finally, a slow procession of elderly women began to march through the village center. These decrepit few wore light, white wool coats over their thick purple dresses. The dress was much simpler for these women but unlike the other women, they all sported large floppy yellow hats to protect them from the sun.

Haraella retrocalla,” Basil told me, then tugged on my shirt. “Get ready to join in.” Sure enough, the men began gathering to the sides and behind the group of old women, offering them their arms and cheering them on from the back. Some of the women walked in a shuffle and looked like they were going to keel over at the end of the march. Others were at a more sprightly age and they smiled, cried, or waved.

Blowing on reeds and banging drums, we escorted the old women until they reached the end of the line, where all the other ladies were waiting. The women all hugged each other and bowed to the men. The men, quiet for the first time, bowed back.

“And that is the parade,” Basil smiled and exhaled with some sense of finality. “Now, we drink and dance.”

Now that was what I liked to hear. In a finer mood than when we started, I joined in with the men as they picked up their chanting once again.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Flash Fiction

My Secret Garden (revision)

My secret garden is the most amazing garden in the whole world! In my secret garden, I look after the birds and the flowers and the beetles. I count the flowers, and I named one beetle Frances. He tells me secrets! Like how the soil is better for planting in one part of the garden and how Mr. Hummingbird has been dipping into the nectar again (Oh, Mr. Hummingbird. You drink too much!).

In my secret garden, I can escape from the bad man. In my garden, he doesn’t have a name. Only the beetles and Mr. Hummingbird do. The flowers keep watch over me, like knights guarding a princess. The insects are all my faithful subjects and Mr. Hummingbird is my closest advisor and friend. Mr. Hummingbird hums sweet nothings into my ear, but he never grabs me and shakes me like the bad man does.

In my secret garden, I can watch the sun through the leaves. When I close my eyes, it looks like glowing Swiss cheese. The cheese turns from red to yellow to green and then purple! Sometimes, while I’m in my garden, I get hungry. I pack a lunch and sprinkle some on the ground for the royal subjects. Mr. Hummingbird makes hovering from place to place look easy. I wish I could stay in one place, though. Today, I have to say goodbye to my secret garden. But not yet. Right now, all there is is me and my secret garden. And Mr. Hummingbird. And Frances. And a thousand different flowers.

Leave a comment

Filed under Flash Fiction

Lord Reginald

“I appreciate your candor,” Reginald said, moving effortlessly with the gait of his prized stallion.

Juniper was still getting the hang of horseback riding, bouncing up and down on her mare. She was a little frightened when Reginald invited her out for a ride, but who was she to turn down the lord of the manor?

“I’m honored, Lord Reginald,” Juniper stammered. “I never found that Geoffrey to be a very trustworthy man. Why, the nerve of him to think that you are anything but a noble, upstanding and God-fearin’ man.”

“Don’t concern yourself with Geoffrey any longer. He’ll be leaving my services shortly. I cannot trust him with my accounts after hearing what you’ve had to say. What about you, Juniper? The garden looks lovely as always. So many delicate flowers, I almost feel remorse to pluck and smell one so immaculately cared for.”

“Oh, Lord Reginald,” Juniper giggled, “Ye needn’t worry about it. You can, um, pluck at any flowers that catch your fancy, being as they belong to you and all.”

Reginald smiled slyly. “When you put it that way, Juniper, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt if you made an elegant centerpiece for dinner with the minister and his wife this Sunday. It would be a feather in my cap for the church to know I have such beautiful things in my manor.”

“Oh, but of course, my lord! I’ll have it ready by and by!”

Reginald laughed, sounding out his “ha”s and “hm”s. “No need to rush, though I will need to see a sample of the arrangement this evening after supper.”

“Of course, m’lord,” Juniper’s voice turned into an abashed whisper.

The two rounded up their steeds, Reginald’s white stallion and Juniper’s diminutive palomino, to the stable boy. Juniper curtsied to Reginald and took her leave.

Reginald walked directly to Geoffrey’s office, not bothering to take the courtesy and knock on his door. He found the head butler, Peyton, who gladly used his master key to open Geoffrey’s office.

“Thank you, Peyton. If you would kindly wait outside until my business with Mr. Gibbs is completed?”

“Of course, my lord.”

“Close the door behind me, good man.”

Reginald did not bother to see Peyton’s nod or subsequent closing of the door. Peyton was loyal and Reginald had more urgent business with Geoffrey Gibbs.

“Oh, Reginald! I’m quite busy right now, if you’d like to return…”

“Geoffrey, you know that door is not supposed to be locked until after you have left the office, eh, my good chap?”

“Oh, was it? I must be tired, lately. I seem to be forgetting myself.” Geoffrey’s forehead had the very base habit of sweating more than necessary.

“May I see your quill, Geoffrey?”

“Excuse me?” Geoffrey asked.

“The little feather on your desk? You dip it in ink and use it to write?” Reginald made a writing gesture with his hand.

“Oh. Of course, my lord,” Geoffrey said, offering the quill pen to Reginald, who plucked it from Geoffrey’s sweaty palms.

Reginald smoothed the ridges of the feather with his fingertips. “Such a fine tool, the quill. One can build empires with a quill these days. And this one, so sharp. I admire a man who takes care of his tools. You know that, Geoffrey?”

“Thank you, my lord.”

Reginal seized the tip of the quill and pried open Geoffrey’s right eyelid, ramming the pen into Geoffrey’s eyeball. Reginald pulled the chair so it turned perpendicular to the desk and tossed Geoffrey backwards onto the floor. Throwing the bloody feather aside, Reginald began kicking and stomping the man’s wounded head.

“How dare you? How dare you slander my good name and plan to leave with my money and my employee! You, you onerous cur!”

Though the sole of Reginald’s boot was leaving Geoffrey’s face rather bloody, it wasn’t quite doing the job, not to mention squashing a man’s head took much more energy than squishing a cricket. Reginald looked to the desk and saw the brass candelabra Geoffrey used to work late at night. He seized it and turned to the bloodied Geoffrey, now trying to crawl across the floor. It only took a few more good whacks before Reginald had caved in Geoffrey’s low brow. He threw aside the candelabra, collected himself and walked back to the door.

“Peyton,” he panted.

“Yes, Lord Reginald?”

“Geoffrey will no longer be under my employment. See that he leaves without making a large fuss.”

“Of course, my lord.”

“Oh, and Peyton. I’ll be needing a replacement pair of boots as well. There’s a good chap.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Flash Fiction, Session XXII

The Lonely Rhubarb

“You’re just a weed,” the geraniums said and the lemon tree looked down on him. The roses were the worst. They ignored him entirely. Though Rhubarb was surrounded by his own brothers, even they were lost in their own misery.

“I don’t want to be alive anymore,” Rhubarb whispered before sobbing half the night.

“Shut up!” a neighboring rhubarb shouted, so Rhubarb suffered in silence instead.

One spring, when the flowers were all in bloom, Rhubarb felt more alone than ever.

“What’s wrong?” a strange little red fruit asked.

Rhubarb knew better than to hope for friendship. He’d only get hurt.

“What do you want?” Rhubarb snapped.

“I just wanted to talk,” the red fruit said.

“Yeah, right. You’re too pretty and sweet. Go talk with the roses.”

“Oh, my cousins are total d-bags…but… you think I’m pretty?”

“Um…” Rhubarb blushed the color of the strange red fruit. “Yeah, I do.”

“I’m Strawberry,” she said.

It wasn’t long before the two plants grew closer, Strawberry entangling herself around Rhubarb. Their caretaker, seeing this, harvested them and together they made the most delicious pie ever.

1 Comment

Filed under Flash Fiction, Session XXI

Parade of a Thousand Orchids

My guide was a British man, fascinated with flowers and Orientalism. Basil had the amazing talent of rambling over a pint about the effects of Chinese philosophy and trade on the Western world. “I see,” I would tell him, smiling and nodding as he continued his rants.

“We’re going to one of the most amazing festivals in this part of Asia: the parade of a thousand orchids. It’s a flower festival celebrating the beauty and prosperity of the village and its women. Seamstresses work almost the entire year to make these dresses. Of course, these are all made of passion rather than the daily affairs of sewing and hemming!” He laughed. I laughed, too, not wanting to seem impolite. I wasn’t particularly interested in flowers or seamstresses, but I did enjoy a good parade and women.

We arrived an hour early and it was still crowded in the streets with men. In fact, I couldn’t see a single woman or even a little girl in their midst. Basil rambled in my ear the entire hour and I wished I had a pint. As the time came closer, the men got progressively louder. Basil said that they are calling the women out, though the women are not allowed to start until at least 16 minutes after the shouting begins.

The first to emerge into the town center are the youngest wives and women of marrying age. They have red aprons over their white dresses. For some reason, even in their shy demeanor, their dress and actions seemed a little suggestive. “Dendrobium Frosty Dawn,” Basil whispered. I scratched my head.

Behind them, chipper as can be, was a group of little yellow dresses. “Macradenia multiflora,” Basil whispered again, as if he were at a theatrical performance. They were all the girls of the village, three-year-olds holding hands with fourteen-year-olds. Some of them looked like they’d sewn them together themselves. The older girls stared firmly at the backs of the Frosty Dawn women or at the ground. The little girls looked up at their older counterparts or proudly out at the men, who applauded violently in their presence.

The next group was much smaller: it was the pregnant women. Some of them looked like they could have belonged with the Frosty Dawn girls, with whom I was comparing everyone else. Others were clearly about to pop. Their maternity clothes were a golden bronze at the sleeves, white shawls at the shoulders, and the brightest yellow at their stomachs. “Paphiopedilum villosum. Beautiful,” Basil whispered in excitement. I wanted to brush him off like a gnat. I was thankful that he was trying to educate me, but I would have preferred to enjoy the parade by myself.

“Oh!” he cried, then covered his mouth, even though the men around him were shouting loud as firecrackers. “These are the matrons of the village. Cattleya violacea.” Basil spoke the name with such reverence. To me, they were just middle-aged broads. Still, the dresses seemed to ripple like water as they walked. They were all purple, dressed in the finest of silk. Each fold of their clothing suggested a deeper shade of purple layered within. As the women strode forward, the deeper layers presented themselves more clearly.

Finally, a slow procession of elderly women began to march through the village center. They wore light wool coats which were white, their thick dresses were purple and they sported large yellow hats to protect them from the sun. “Haraella retrocalla,” Basil told me, then tugged on my shirt. “Get ready to join in.” Sure enough, the men began gathering to the sides and behind the group of old women, offering them their arms and cheering them on in the back. Some of the women truly looked exhausted. Others were at a more spritely age and they smiled or cried or waved. The men celebrated these women until they reached the end of the line, where all the others were waiting. The women all hugged each other and bowed to the men. The men bowed back.

“And that is the parade,” Basil smiled and exhaled with some sense of finality. “Now, we drink and dance.”

I liked the sound of that.

Leave a comment

Filed under Flash Fiction, Session XVII