For my sister
The spring celebration was upon them—the Daffodils of Evergreen Field.
Each year, the flowers competed for their chance to be selected by Farmer Rick’s daughter as the March Goddess –the yearly honor of being the first flower picked. Everyone in Evergreen Field knew that the March Goddess was not only the most beautiful flower in bloom, but the tallest-standing and sweetest-smelling—all important traits to the Daffodils. And every one of them, from seedling to fully-grown, longed for this desired achievement.
“You’re barely six inches tall,” Debbie sneered as she fluffed her long, yellow petals. “I’m the clear choice.”
“You?” Darla hissed. “Those are more orange than yellow and you know the girl prefers yellow. Look at the previous years,” she laughed with arrogance. “If anyone, it’ll be me.”
“Nonsense,” Donna sighed, as if tired of having to explain the obvious all over again. “I’m over eight inches and my aroma is the sweetest around. Everyone’s been saying it. I’m the clear choice, so you can all forget about it. There’s no use even hoping.”
Dorothy didn’t want to admit Donna was right. She was the tallest and sweetest-smelling among them, and although she didn’t mention the color of her petals, Donna’s were the sharpest shade of yellow Dorothy had ever seen. Beautiful, Donna was. And sure to be picked.
The other Daffodils spent their days soaking up the warm morning sun and preening and fluffing themselves into the late afternoon. It only helped their odds. The girl was still young and desired beautiful things, but Dorothy had no time for perfection. Only protection for her little seedling, whom she loved more than anything.
One day, the sky turned black overhead. The winds blew harder and then a heavy gush of water fell on the Daffodils of Evergreen Field. Most curled into themselves, fearful of the hard rain breaking their smooth and perfect petals. All the time preening and fluffing wasted—how could they recover from something like this? Donna, Darla and Debbie were among the first to cower from the rain, fearful of the guaranteed damage, but Dorothy stood tall and opened her petals as wide as she could. Her seedling needed protection.
The next afternoon, much to the flowers’ dismay, the neighbor’s heavy-set Rottweiler got loose from the chain-linked fence and ran free through the yellow field. Again, the Daffodils curled into themselves, fearful of the impending damage, as the dog continually kicked up the grass and dirt with his jagged claws. Farmer Rick ran out with his shotgun but only after the Rottweiler had made a few laps. Dorothy, acting on instinct alone, stood tall and opened her petals as wide as she could—a flimsy shield, but a shield nevertheless. If she could bear the hurt, she would. And she did so willingly.
By the third day, when the Daffodils of Evergreen Field didn’t think they could take anymore, a swarm of bees descended, hungry from their travels. The greedy buzzing sent the flowers back to the ground, selfishly hiding their prized nutrients. Any other time and the Daffodils would’ve gladly accepted the visitors, but they needed time to rest and recoup. Farmer Rick’s daughter was returning home the following afternoon and they couldn’t be bothered with any more issues.
By this point, Dorothy had lost half her petals. The ones that remained were bruised, scratched, swollen, ripped and torn. Barely able to remain upright, she knew the bees would take what her little seedling didn’t have to offer, so Dorothy presented herself as the only option in the area. The bees gladly took from her and left without bothering the smaller one at her stem.
Worn, exhausted and totally defeated, Dorothy knew she had no chance at earning the title of March Goddess. She’d lost half her petals. She looked nothing like the ones that curled up and hid, protecting themselves to ensure a reining victory. No, Dorothy looked bad. The culmination of the last three days reflected in her battered appearance and fatigued existence. She wished she didn’t look like that. She’d never be selected first and she wanted to make her seedling proud. Because all seedlings were proud of their mothers when they got selected as the March Goddess. And Dorothy knew that just wasn’t her.
The following day, a welcomed sight arrived in the shape of a familiar car pulling into the driveway. It was her—the farmer’s daughter—home for a break from school. Donna, Debbie and Darla, along with the rest of the Daffodils, stretched out, preening and fluffing their perfect yellow petals. Dorothy wished she could do the same. But it was too late. With everything thrown at her, the best she could do was not fall to the ground. The best she could do was not embarrass her seedling too, too much. And when Farmer Rick’s daughter skipped out onto Evergreen Field, she paused for a moment and surveyed the beautiful yellow flowers surrounding her.
Every Daffodil held her breath, hoping and praying that they were the most beautiful—and therefore best—flower in the field. After a quiet moment of consideration, the girl scooped down and plucked Donna from the earth. Skipping back inside, the Daffodils exhaled a sad sigh. The spring celebration was over. Donna was this year’s March Goddess.
“I’m sorry,” Dorothy apologized. “I’m sorry I couldn’t make you proud.”
“But you did. You’re still standing, mommy,” DJ, her seedling said, “and you never stopped.”