Fiction: ‘The Tulip’

61 - The Tulip
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All my life I’ve been told the story of the tulip that had grown from the pavement, but I never really believed it until I saw it for myself.

She was as enchanting as a fairy tale.

Her bright red petals were awash with orange and gold so that she burned like a sunrise in the heart of the bleak grey city. Her stem rose high above the concrete, while her leaves stood guard in a tight rosette.

She looked so lovely.

I smiled at the pretty flower, my childish imagination ignited by the magic which had created this phenomenon.

When I returned to the city many years later, I was a good deal older and wiser.

But still I felt compelled to visit my old friend.

Now that she was older, people didn’t care about the tulip anymore. Her brilliant petals had faded to a soft shade of brown, their velvety surface now wrinkled with age. She looked very tired. Even her leaves hung down around her in resignation, their tips limp and discoloured.

The miraculous little flower was no longer special.

She had grown weathered and ugly from the scorching heat of so many summers and the blistering cold of countless winters.

As I kneeled beside the old flower, I remembered how everyone used to stop and gaze in wonder at her miracle. Tourists had flocked around her with flashing cameras. Artists had decorated the pavement with visions of hope, while visitors left offerings of beads and ribbons to the extraordinary tulip that had sprung out of nothing.

Now all the people walked straight by in the busy street without sparing her a second glance. It’s as if the magic of her very existence in this barren place had vanished.

I sat beside her, my heart heavy for the little forgotten flower.

For the briefest moment the tulip seemed to sigh.

And then all at once her petals fell to the ground in a heap, leaving nothing behind but a yellow stem and faded leaves.

The crowd kept rushing by like always.

And a breeze swept the petals away from memory.

~ Ekaterina

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