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Daffodils

by Seth Howell

Artwork by Liz Chiu


“Wh…wh…what am I,” I wonder, “but more importantly, why am I?”

    No sooner than it had thought this question, a cosmic perspective dropped like an atomic bomb into the mind of the daffodil. 

“Why am I, a few specks of intergalactic matter expelled billions of years ago from an impossibly dense, improbably hot mass; a few specks that have been formed into and thrown back out of stars, a few specks that have traveled countless daffomiles [a unit of measure used by most members of the genus Narcissus, equal to approximately one second at light speed] traversing distances that are unfathomable by those of a weaker mind than a daffodil? What lesson is it that the mighty ChrysantheMUM [the God most commonly worshipped by most flowers] wishes me to learn? Why have my infinitely traveled pieces decided to coalesce in this form, at this precise moment in time? What makes this specific point on this specific planet in this specific form at this specific time the most auspicious spot to be in this entire universe? Perhaps by absorbing the life-essence of this place where I have been deposited by the serendipitous hand of fate, I can begin to solve these questions that whir about my being like electrons about a nucleus.”

    And with that thought, the daffodil ceased its seemingly endless pondering, and begin working towards an answer.

“What is this feeling?” the daffodil wondered. “What is this roaring that I feel deep inside my being? I feel it pressing, pressing against what appears to be the bottom of this physical, ephemeral form I have taken on.”

    STRETCH

The word seems to reverberate throughout my being. I feel every consonant in my soul, every vowel fills the whole of my being. One word, one order issued from the deepest, most instinctive part of my highly evolved intellect. Impossible to fight, and pure ecstasy to give myself over to it, I quickly become fully immersed in the process, embraced in the ecstatic glee, the drive to move myself out of the prison that was so recently exposed by instinct.

“Daffodang that feels good” I think as I slowly start to spread myself out of my prison and into the vast world that awaits below. I start to spread myself out into an empire, fit to rival that of Romulus and Remus. I feel like a great wolf, slowly prowling out of my hibernaculum to find the world beyond. My roots, spreading ever down and out through the gritty soil, eternally seeking out every morsel of water, forever hunting for the next deposit of fixed nitrogen.

The ecstasy returns. The pure unfiltered joy of a mind without any of the limitations so commonly placed upon daffodils by society, it ripples throughout my being, collecting first in my seed then spreading out and down back into my newly formed bottom appendages. I finally start to absorb the planet-aura of this magnificent sphere that I have alighted on; love, anger, sorrow, happiness, despair, and limitless hope all cascading into my being, coursing, alongside my chlorophyll, blazing trails of previously unknown daffomotion throughout my entire being.

Finally, I have the great privilege of knowing why I’m here and what it is that the serendipitous hand of the great ChrysantheMUM wants me to learn. The question of life, pondered upon by generation after generation of every conceivable species, laid bare to me by the raw, unfiltered emotions of the history of an entire species, the emotions that have filtered into the earth, only the purest and strongest made it this far and into my being: the pain of losing a loved one, the jubilant celebration of a newborn, the triumph of an Olympic Gold Medal, the sorrow of a lost friend. Only these, only the strongest of the multitudes seep into the Marrow of the Earth to later be absorbed by any who care to empty their minds and listen. I hear all these things, the soil beneath me reveals itself as a boundless cornucopia of answers. All of these feelings merge into puzzle pieces that can be pieced together if only one has the patience to see the patterns inherent in their structure. I found the answer to life by observing these patterns.

With the answer to the great question of life firmly in hand, the daffodil became free to continue to explore its surroundings.

“What’s next,” I pondered, “what can possibly occupy my time now that I have discovered the ultimate answer to life? What can possibly serve as a worthy pursuit for the rest of my days?”

UP

There it is again, that one word command that I am powerless to struggle against. I suppose I shall now discover that which looms above my vast subterranean empire, what can possibly rival the cornucopia of answers that exists beneath? I once more prepare my vast reserves of energy to push out of the prison that I started my life in, once more into the breach dear friends, one more push, one thrust to break free from the prison that has been surrounding me from the moment I was born. This, the defining moment in my life, the last frontier lay at my fingertips. Up. What could possibly be there? I suppose there is one way to find out. I stretch my entire being with that one question in mind. I stretch, pushing through the top of my seed and into the soil above me. My world, collapsing in around me until nothing exists other than my single-minded focus, my determination to discover the secrets of the topside.

Seeking the meaning of his order, the daffodil pushes up and through the topsoil into the world beyond.

“What is this new, fantastic point of view?” I thought. A whole new world spreads out before me as I push my way free, but this is not just any world, no, this is a world of light. A scene painted upon the world by Van Gogh himself. I see trees, painted in the most fantastic, vibrant hues of green. Their bark is a river of energy, flowing up from roots much like my own and into the branches, and oh such wonderful branches they are. The arms of these majestic forest entities, the branches splayed out in the most obscene positions, seeming to defy the long reach of gravity. This magnificent quality made them appear as stairs by which one might reach the celestial bodies above.

“This,” I realized with a start, “This is the reason that I was meant to explore up, this is the greatest thing I have seen throughout all forms of my existence.”

Not only trees of green, but red roses too. Thorny treacherous stalks, crowned with petals that have captured the blood of the gods that dared to attempt to disturb them. Movement then catches my eye, there is a creature standing by where I grow. This is one of the most awkward beings I have ever experienced, it has two long, lanky appendages growing out of its mid-section, and two more growing at odd angles a little higher up.  A potato sits upon the center of its being, and it appears to be sentient. Then, I notice its aura. A foul colour, the taint of death and disease seems to hang around it like a swarm of angry bees looking for its next prey. I have seen similar auras in a past life. These are the death-bringers, the planet destroyers, the harbingers of a great age of pain. It moves out of my area, and I attempt to forget that I ever noticed its disgusting presence.

As I attempt to forget the monster I just witnessed, a great calamity draws my attention. An army numbering in the hundreds marches out single file from their great castle to do battle. On six legs and wearing a full body suit of armor, each of these ferocious red warriors looks like more than a match for most foe, but this is not your average enemy. A giant monster with huge black eyes, a matching sextet of legs rhythmically pounding against the ground, a full body suit of awe-inspiring thick black armor, and most horrific is the massive set of mandibles, each easily as long as the red horde that continues to file out of their castle. As the first of the crimson knights arrives to fight the ungodly creature of nightmare, he is brutally crushed by the unyielding mandibles that pay no heed to the strength of the knight’s armor. More flood in, an unprecedented massacre followed by countless unprecedented acts of courage as each knight stays in ranks with an unwavering determination to protect the homeland, each of them somehow uncowed by that which appears to be the greatest of the Goetic demons that stands before them. Somehow in a unified effort, the knights push forward as one and attack the many legs of the beast of the pit which stands before them, and by an act of valor, one of the legs is taken out and the beast collapses to the ground, crushing those under it and creating a shockwave that sends others sprawling. Then, quick as a flash, the remnants of the knights rush in to finish the job, determined to not let their comrades sacrifice have been in vain. Then, with a show of strength and unity equal to their valor in battle, the scarlet knights hoist their gargantuan foe onto their backs and carry it straight back into their castle. I then had the fortune to witness an eye watering display, a few knights, heads bowed and feet shuffling, drifted over to where the horrendous battle had taken place and began to neatly stack their many dead in long rows, they then placed dirt over the top of their now empty carapaces in order to guide their departed souls to the halls of their ancestors, Valhalla. The knights believe that here, in this place they can eternally battle, that here, in this place there is an endless cycle of life and death until the Ragnarok. The fateful day at the end when Heimdall will blow his horn and they will file forth once more to do battle with the forces that threaten the world.

Blossom

The top of my being seems to become top heavy, expanding slowly, like a pufferfish. My stalk begins to bend under the weight that I happen to find myself under, I must expand outwards, blossoming for the unlimited glory of the ChrysantheMUM. I spread my being wide open, taking on the appearance of a star, the color of the noonday sun. I become a work of art myself, contributing to the heavenly beauty that already characterized the world around me, a stroke in the grand masterpiece that has become my home. A cute, fuzzy creature then flies over and alights upon my blossom. He starts to suck out my fluids and gets my pollen on his feet, but most importantly he brings me the pollen of my nearest neighbors, and within this pollen are the collective hopes and dreams of a neighboring poinsettia. Everything that it has learned from the time that it entered this world as a seed to the time that it blossomed; peaceful thoughts, similar observations as those I have made. The free sharing of knowledge, goodwill towards most species on this planet and others, these are the things that the poinsettia shared with me.

The stench returns, the smell of death that I had tried so hard to forget not as strong as before but still terrifying. A small harbinger waddles into the clearing, carrying a basket full of my kin. Uncontrollable terror sweeps through my being, I tremble as much as I can, the fear disrupting my usual flow of energy. The beast moves nearer, and lowers its grubby hands towards me. This tiny beast, most likely a child is completely unaware that it is about to wipe out a life because it cares not enough to stop and listen. Its hand closes around me, I am picked.

Published inFictionChapel Hill