The Sunflower

4 min
As the seedling emerged from the warm and cozy earth, it gloried in the sun above. It always turned its tender leaves to the sun’s filling heat and one day, the bud upon the top, burst open. At last, the golden head could see the light above and hear the sounds of the world. That day began the new and sweet life of the sunflower as she stretched towards the sky. She loved her life beside the stacked homes of the humans who praised her beauty. Each morning the sunflower lifted her head to feel the heat and take in the precious light of the sun she believed was made just for her. The rest of the sunlit days would be full of the grateful stares of the beings living near her. She knew she was perfect, and she faced the people to bless them with her beauty. The little ones would gaze up at her ever-growing stock and stroke the fuzzy ends of her leaves. The tall ones held up little boxes to her face and smiled as they walked away.
The sunflower knew she was perfect but there was one thing she abhorred. The second stacked home right above the half-sunken one below had screaming tall humans and a crying little one. Those people never looked up at her perfection or stroked her soft leaves. They didn’t appreciate the beloved flower that was on her way to grace their balcony with her presence. The angry yells and crashing screams hurt her delicate ears and stressed the sun yellow petals. The little one always cried and whined, and the sounds made her want her to turn her head away from even the sun. Those people were horrid and didn’t praise her perfection and she wanted to stretch her stem to the other balconies to see into the homes of smiling and grateful creatures. But no strength of the sunflower could turn the steady upward course that would land her directly outside the apartment she hated.
The day came when all the dread came to fruition. The stalk pushed her head above the lip of the balcony. The sunflower stayed turned away for as long as she could withstand her yearning for the warmth of the sun but eventually, she couldn’t resist. As her sight landed on the balcony all she could see was the rust coating each bar, the dry dirt in the corners and then the window revealing a home littered with glass bottles and plastic wrappers. A pitiable little one sat alone in a pile of rags, crying tears bigger than the raindrops that often fell on the flower. His nose dripped snot that pooled on his upper lip, and his clothes were speckled with dried food and mess. The big ones were yelling in the background and a dish flew to smash against the wall behind the one with a bush on it’s lower face. They went on with their racket the whole day and when the night came, though the sun disappeared, the sunflower was almost glad. The quiet of the dark night seemed restful for once rather than anxious with withdrawal.
The next morning the day was the same except for when the little one came out to the balcony and just stared down at her. The moment didn’t feel anything like the praising gazes that she was so used to. He seemed to stare with gleaming eyes that seemed about to drip their own raindrops. The gaze was full of something the flower could only guess at. Over the next few days, the child would come out on the porch while his home was echoing with sobs, yells, and slaps. He would fix her with a pointed expression and soon the sunflower grew anxious to seem him each day. He made her want to understand and know what he saw in her. The days that followed were much the same as she grew further and further up the balcony railing and the boy started to need to crane his neck to see her. The day that he started looking up the sun reflected in his eyes and a word came to life in the Sunflower’s mind. Hope. He was hoping. Hoping she could save him from the stacked home’s unhappy existence that left him covered in bruises and tears. When that night came the flower was left to wonder over the look of the little one. What did he expect her to do? Could she do anything?
As the sunflower slowly grew to the top of the balcony railing much time went by, and she began to love the little boy. She wanted to answer his hope and be what he needed. He became a little sun in her journey as he came to look at her each day; he had so much hope and purpose at such a young age. He cared about her and in the evenings as the sun set, the sunflower could see the stumbling man fall asleep and then the boy cuddle up with his mother, pat her cheek and wipe away her tears. He loved someone other than himself and the flower started to want that for herself. The sunflower wished she could fill the need she saw every time he came to look at her.
The day her head finally peeked over the railing she expected a day like all the others and while it started with the customary yelling, it didn’t stay that way. Only halfway through the morning, the yelling abruptly stopped with a loud slap and then the sudden slam of a door. Then the room held only the child and his mother. The mother slumped onto the couch and began crying like the little one often did. The boy hugged and kissed his mother, but nothing could make her calm her tears. The mother set the child aside and walked into the dirty kitchen that buzzed with flies. She pulled an orange bottle out of the cupboard and for a long moment stared at it, tears dripping onto the pristine label. She opened it and emptied the entire contents into her hand and wandered back to the couch to sit beside the boy.
Her beautiful dirty child came to the sunflower and pierced her with his stare. After a moment, his eyes seem to become empty as if knowing the flower could do nothing. The sunflower wished to help but she could only watch as the hope she had become so invested in slowly disappear. He disappeared inside the home, out of sight from the window. After a few minutes of racking sobs emanating from the living room, the little boy came onto the balcony, scissors in hand. He whispered, “For Mommy” as he climbed up onto the railing and wobbled on the edge to grab the flower’s stalk. After momentary confusion about the child’s purpose, the sunflower felt a sharp pain in her stem. Agonizing minutes later the flower came loose from the towering stalk below. The sunflower knew she was dying but couldn’t help but be curious as to what the little child meant to do with her. After some tumultuous movement bringing her into the messy hovel of a home, she was placed on the crying woman’s lap. Before the flower’s life fled, she at last saw her desire to help fulfilled. Hope and happiness bloomed in the woman’s eyes and the pills she held in her hand fell and scattered all over the floor. A new hope was planted.

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