The sun poked at him from its vantage point above an open field. And Allister plucked petals from a lavender coneflower still rooted in the ground. With each pluck came a, “She loves me,” or a, “She loves me not.” And after all the coneflower’s petals had fallen, the last words spoken were, “She loves me not.” And Allister knew this was so. Something had changed. Something was gone. And it was not coming back anytime soon.
But, Allister glued the petals back on his coneflower and he plucked again.
And, again, he ended on, “She loves me not.”
And Allister knew it was time to move on. Many family, friends, acquaintances, and complete strangers had told him so. So, Allister did. He moved on to the next flower. A daisy. He tugged each petal cleanly and left them on the ground and came up with the same answer. She loved him not.
And Allister knew it was time to move on. You may remember from the paragraph preceding this one. But, he remembered from the constant advice given and he knew inside him that there were things that could not be mended. Not now. Maybe not ever. And, though he should (he knew he should), he could not move on. Not until he had plucked the petals, the possibilities, the feelings, the thoughts, the lost futures from each and every flower in that field.
So he did.
It took the whole day and more. It took whole lifetimes. And, strewn across the field, like the remains of a battle, were hundreds upon thousands upon millions of petals. With each petal came a, “She loves me” or a “She loves me not” that always ended with, “She loves me not.”
And Allister had moved on, had moved beyond that initial lost love, had moved on to the idea of others. Of the possibility of finding someone else and, in his head- in the petals he plucked- it always came up, “She loves me not.” Flower upon flower- tulips and sunflowers and lilies and irises and this one and that one loved him not. Some stems Allister plucked from the Earth to lay with the petals and some stems Allister left rooted in the ground, their bald heads reaching to the sun for help.
And Allister looked to the sky and wanted to scream at the sun to…just…stop…poking him. But, instead, he plucked another flower’s petals. And another and another until each and every flower in that field, each and every possibility for love in his life, was bare and bald.
And Allister wept. He wept for endings to beginnings he had and never had.
And, still, he was not ready to leave the field. He needed to know why. He needed to know who and what was wrong with him. In a haze, he glued petals back on the heads of the flowers with stems still rooted in the Earth. He picked up the stems he had torn from the ground and, with them, picked up memories of relationships long past. Early ones with early mistakes. He wanted a resolution. The stems with roots still clinging, Allister planted back into the ground and the stems torn away from their roots, Allister glued back to their bases (and, in cases where the bases could not be found, Allister glued the stems directly into the Earth). And he glued petals back on their flower heads. He wanted to plant a better ending that had never been there. They had all been, “She loves you not.”
They loved him not. But, Allister left them all standing- reaching to the sun.
And Allister sat at the edge of the field at the exact same place that he had started. He sat there, bowed his head, and let the sun poke him. Let himself feel each and every loss. With each poke, Allister felt himself being pushed, being planted into the ground. Nothing had been left.
And, so, he wept. And wept. And the sun poked and poked. And the flowers reached and reached. And, when Allister lifted his head, he saw that, in his haze, he had transformed the field.
Sunflowers had dandelion petals. The petals of Black-Eyed Susans had met the stems of Queen Anne’s Lace. And Allister’s original lavender coneflower now had scarlet poppy petals. All over the field were hybrids, new creations. Some flowers even wore the petals of multiple flowers. Annuals meshed with perennials and biennials. Some beautiful, some strange. Some would be gone by the next spring and some would remain. But, all were unique and all were his.
And, with the sun drying the tears on his face, Allister suddenly felt no need to apologize for the strange anymore than he felt the need to brag about the beautiful.
There was a release.
There was a forgiveness.
There was a hum.
There were bees all about.
And they were carrying Allister to brand new fields.