Verbascum for courage…
She gazes down thoughtfully at the cluster of blossoms, their bright yellow petals shining with drops of morning dew.
“Flowers,” Her mother had always told her, “are a language all their own, they are the words of nature, and carry more meaning than you know.”
“But mother,” She had replied, “one cannot read flowers, nor speak with them.”
“But that is where you are wrong my little bud, if you learn to speak in flowers, you will have learned the true language of this world.”
“But how?” She asked, curious.
“I will show you…”
In the months that followed, her mother taught her the language and ever since, flowers have held a special place in her heart. Not only do they remind her of her mother, but they also allow for her to truly speak her mind. Now, the language of blossoms is as familiar to her as her native tongue. She has even begun to teach her best friend, Asten, the language as well. He recently went away to a summer training camp, where they teach boys like him to defend themselves and others – where they teach them to be heroes. She has always thought of him as a hero, and has always strived to be one as well. But somehow, she always falls short. When her cat, Prince Purr, got stuck in a tree, it was Asten who rescued him because she was afraid of heights. When Asten’s little sister, Maggie, got lost in the cave, it was also Asten who saved her, because she was afraid of the dark. Every time she could have been a hero, she cowered instead. Never again. She promises herself.
“Ayla!” A voice startles her out of her trance, “You’ll never guess what happened!”
“Asten!” She jumps up from the grass, bolting towards the boy.
He stumbles backwards with a chuckle as she barrels into him, squeezing tightly, “Good to see you too.”
“I thought you were going to be gone all summer!” She exclaims, releasing him.
“I was, but then father called requesting I come home at once. Strangely enough, when I returned, mother said he had left weeks ago on a ‘business trip’.” He shrugs, “It’s all fine though, as much as I loved learning to wield a sword and become a master archer, I would have given it up to just be able to spend the summer with you.”
She hits him lightly on the shoulder, “Somehow I doubt that.”
“I mean it!” He laughs his blonde hair shining like gold in the sunlight.
She laughs as well, and takes off running, raven black hair flying in the wind, “Catch me if you can!”
“Oh, I assure you I can!” He shouts and sprints after her.
They bound across the grass, weaving between clusters of flowers laughing, when suddenly Ayla stops in her tracks, gaze fixed on the ground in confusion.
Asten, panting, asks, “What is it?”
“The flowers…” She murmurs, gesturing to a small patch, “They’re new.”
“Strange, what do they mean?” Asten questions, crouching down to examine the blossoms.
They are small, clearly fresh and new, with tiny orange petals.
“Chrysanthemums,” Ayla whispers, “They represent…death.”
Asten shudders, “Surely it’s nothing, flowers just sprout wherever and whenever, right?”
“I don’t think so…it has to be a sign, but the question is, who’s going to die?”
They exchange nervous glances and turn back towards the house, when suddenly a scream arises.
“Mom!” Ayla cries and makes towards the house. I will not be afraid, not this time.
“Ayla wait!” Asten shouts and takes off after her, scattering orange petals to the wind.