A Flower in the Wind

A Flower in the Wind

A Story by Ethan Jobalia
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A young flower is dropped into the wind

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A flower fell from a tree. He did not know where he was, but he was content. He drifted on the wind and still did not know where he was. He glanced behind him, and saw his tree. He had known that tree all his short life. The tree, as a mother, had given him life. She had loved and known every flower on her branches, and every time one fell she bid them a heartfelt farewell and watched them sail into the breeze. The mother felt a tinge of sadness each time, but each time knew that her sons would fare well on their own, and so let them fall into the breeze. There had been many a stormy night where she held onto her sons tight and not let a single one fall. She would only allow her children to go on the perfect breeze, so as to give them the best chance at a good life.

This particular flower had a particular name, but it’s beauty would be lost through any translation. It’s name was the wind, the rain, and the world. The name was without reason or logic, but somehow seemed to exude both. It was a name built of the foundations of the Earth, and from the name the foundations of the Earth were built. Indeed each flower had its own name, just as powerful and beautiful. There was no name more powerful or beautiful than another, but each one was unique. 

The first thing the flower met in his travels was a young tadpole. The flower, landing softly on the water came to a floating rest beside a lone tadpole. “Who are you?” the tadpole asked innocently. The flower had heard the language of the animals many times and thus was able to understand the tadpole. He did not, however, know the language well enough to speak it, and so took a risk and spoke in the old language of the trees.

“I am a flower, only a few months old. You are the first thing I’ve met since I left my tree not a few minutes ago. Tell me, friend, what comes next? I know that I am supposed to travel and everything so far seems great, but now I have come to rest. I believe this is the end of my travels.” The flower responded.

The tadpole was apparently attuned to the forest. “Well my travels too have just begun. I am barely able to venture beyond the shallows in either direction. If you would ask me, and again I know not of anything but this small puddle, I would say travel is the most important thing you can do. If you can leave this puddle, do, and return someday to me and tell me of your travels.”

And so the flower picked up and, with the tadpole’s help, boosted itself beyond the ripples of the puddle and back onto the wind. Some time passed and the flower passed over a small farm. On this farm sat an old man alone on his porch playing a quiet song on a worn banjo. Of course the flower knew none of this, but only knew that there was a creature below and from it was coming a sweet and lilting tune. There the flower did its best to hover for some time listening. The song seemed to tell of grand stories and quiet love. Small men and great battles, both internal and external. There was a quality in the voice of some rough layman, but also within it was the most beautiful tone the flower could conceive. There was nothing special about this man, and that’s what made him so special. He found within the man all of human history leading up to this point. Scarcely did the flower recognize, but could he have had the knowledge of it he would have seen within this quiet song the march of Hannibal over the Alps, the devastation of the plague, the first brave settlers to strike out across the impassible sea for new lands as well as the ones who lived in that land. He would have seen each John and Sally and Carter who added their own verse and their own extra note to just make that song that much better. He would have seen all of human history, a vast net of webs and strings tangled and wired all over the place through time and space all converging on this one point in time and space. One note after another, and as long as this song went on the strings were wound. The final note would bring an explosion of these strings. There would be a rescattering of the world and of history. There would be no more convergence, only to be found again in another song. There would be another place and another time with all of space and time. For now, he was here. Another string in the vast web. Here to witness this marvel. All tied up in this unassuming song. The flower did not know any of this, all he knew was that here lied a beautiful song sung by a beautiful man.

Nature may be perfect and glorious and large and wild and untamable but this man was seemingly the opposite. He was perfect through his imperfections. He was glorious through his anonymity. He was large through his frail frame that carried a weight beyond his own. He was the seat of domesticity but still carrying within him the wild and untamable frontier. The flower stayed as long as it could bear, and slowly drifted past again on the wind. On to the next place. He would have to tell the tadpole about this one, but without the song and the man there would be no explanation. The flower wept, for all that it had just witnessed had been lost. It was only seen by him, and he could not describe or replicate it.

After some more time the flower came upon a funeral. Where the lone man had contained all of history and spoke of wild stories and grand ideas, here lay the opposite. Here was all that was presented laid bare. An old man’s likeness sat on a small pedestal next to the grave. The preacher was sad, but disillusioned. He had seen this many times before, and each time hurt less and less. An old woman cried at the grave. Behind her many more people cried from their seats. There was no subtext here. This was all raw pure human emotion. Nothing was hidden or missing, there was no need for history or time or space in this. This existed where and when it was and nowhere else. The flower wondered at what this could be, as he had never seen a funeral before. He gathered, however, that people were sad, and he was sad too. He presumed it had something to do with the old man. He did not see the old man, but he strangely missed him. He suddenly felt a longing urge to meet this man, or for the man to show up from some unseen place. He felt empty without the man. He wept, for he was alone. As he wept the wind picked up and without him even realizing it he was carried off to the next place.

Here were no more humans but a vast wood. This he knew. He had come from the edge of the woods, and knew the trees well. Maybe not these exact trees, but he knew the ways of the trees as a whole. He landed quietly on the top of one tree and asked where he was. The tree did not respond. He asked again, and again no response. The flower did not get mad or frustrated, for his only emotion he knew was wonder. He simply called out for a response. None came. The trees here seemed quiet and dull. He noticed now they were in neat precise rows and columns, and in the distance he finally heard his response. It was not, however, the sweet lilting language of the trees that he was used to, but a harsh screeching whir and buzz. A noise pierced his ears, if ears you can call them, and off in the distance he saw a thick cloud of black rising and approaching. Thunder it seemed sounded from the direction of this smoke. He learned a new emotion. Fear. Horror. A large yellow creature, seemingly part man or at least ridden by a man, charged towards him eating the entire row of trees. He sat and watched, without being able to move. The creature passed only one row from him, and as he watched it pass he felt scared and wished he was home. He had found a tree farm. Here was a marvel of man unrivaled by any other. Trees grown from birth and raised their entire lives only to be harvested and killed. Born into unnatural rows and columns, no regard given to their lives or feelings, these trees sat dormant with no thought as the wild trees had. They were essentially dead from birth. Occasionally a new baby tree would rise from the ground and, calling out for friendship, would be met with only silence. After some time waiting in this fashion for a response, the baby tree would give up and retreat lifeless into its shell, a husk of the optimistic young tree it had been not long before. The trees would sometimes before giving up try to call to passing animals or humans. The animals became used to this and stopped responding, but the humans have lost all knowledge of the language of the trees many years ago. Now to them it only sounds as a breeze passing through the leaves.

The flower did not know any of this. All he knew was fear, and decided it was time to return home. There was no wind however. The trees generate the wind and allow it to sail through their boughs to create their words and phrases, but here there were no words and thus no wind. The flower was stuck. He wept for himself, and he wept for the other trees in the lot. He wept for the old man he had missed, although he remembered not his face. He wept for that he would never hear the song of the old man with the banjo again. He wept for the tadpole who would never hear of his story, and would assume the flower had abandoned him. He wept finally for his mother who he loved more than anything else, and for that he would never see her again, even if from afar. He wept loud and long.

After some time weeping a young tree who had not given up hope yet began to pick up the wail. Together they cried, though for much different reasons. Another tree soon joined in, a bit older this time, waking up from a short slumber. More and more trees, young and old, began to pick up the cry. They all had different reasons and different wishes, but all felt equally despaired. After some time the air stirred. More and more the wind picked up. The leaves and boughs shook and shuddered. The trees knew that they were doomed, but after they had woken up word had spread quickly of this small flower that had disturbed their slumber. Together and silently, for most of them had forgotten true language, and could only now speak in emotions, they made a pact. They had enough strength barely to together lift up a mighty breeze. They listened intently to the flower’s cry and picked out what words they could. The wind picked up faster now. The flower looked around and for the first time noticed what was happening. His sobs subsided and gave way to great hope and joy. He was lifted through the air and tossed back the way he came. He assumed, and still does, that the trees had awoken and remained strong and united in this new vigor. They did not. Soon after they sent the flower through the air their strength was sapped and they all together greyed and withered and turned to ash as one. They did, however, create some of the most fertile soil in the region which gave way to a brand new forest stronger than any other which grew on the ruins of the devastated tree farm, wild and free speaking the language of the trees ad infinitum.

The flower looked over the horizon. He was soon over the funeral, and sad as he was for the man again, he was happy to be with the others that were there and glad for them being together. He passed back to the man with a banjo and heard a new tone in his voice. Gone was the triumph and joy, and now here sat only a lonely old man. He was happy for the man’s presence but sad for the lack of others, much as was the man himself. Finally he returned to the tadpole. The tadpole saw the flower drifting by and the flower hovered and told the tadpole everything he had seen and learned. He finally floated back to his mother, who gladly took him back in and he lived in bliss among his brothers and mother to the end of his days.

© 2020 Ethan Jobalia


Author's Note

Ethan Jobalia
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Reviews

Woah! This was a breathtaking story and the emotions were so beautifully conveyed! I personally find it a bit hard to guide the readers through a journey or a narrative primarily through emotions and feelings in writing, but you pulled it off really well!

All the while I was reading through this story, it really reminded me of a Japanese proverb(?) that's of the same essence of this flower's journey, and the proverb is called 'mono no aware'. Mono no Aware essentially means that you're aware of how time passes, the little moments in life moving forward, and the sadness in all of that, thus you tend to appreciate and, in a way, also mourn, those moments, but also look forward to a new present. I'm not sure if I explained that well, but that's my understanding of Mono no Aware, and this story is quite representative of that! :)

I don't have any critiques besides that the paragraphs can feel a bit long at times, but I totally understand if that's your preferred writing style, so no worries! Amazing, amazing work!

Posted 11 Months Ago



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Added on October 13, 2020
Last Updated on October 23, 2020
Tags: Man, Banjo, Flower, Funeral, Tree, Tadpole, Moral, Short Story, Sad, Happy, Emotional

Author

Ethan Jobalia
Ethan Jobalia

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A new writer just looking to improve my work more..

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A Chapter by Ethan Jobalia