"Look over there!" The young blonde mother, Poppy, pointed to the correct cluster of purple flowers, in the open green field, to guide her four-year-old daughter.
"Flowers! Pretty flowers!" Grabbing her mother's hand, she ran to the purple-hued clusters as fast as her small legs would allow her to. With one tiny, chubby fist, she yanked one of the flowers up until the roots came out. "Uh-oh. Mommy, I broke it. I broke it." She held the flower up to her mother and turned her teary sky blue eyes to her mother's baby blue ones. Laughing, she ruffled the child's long, blonde, soft, curly hair.
"Don't cry, Sweetie. We want the roots pulled up with the flowers, Aster. Can you pull Mommy up another one?"
"Okay. Here, Mommy." She handed the flower to her mother, then proceeded to do the same with more flowers until she felt she had pulled enough from the soft ground. "Flowers go home?"
"Yes, Sweetie. The flowers go home with us."
"Yay!" She clapped her hands with glee. "Flowers go home! Flowers go home!"
"NOOOOO!" She screamed, but the humans couldn't hear her. Her roots fought, against the child's pull, to stay in the dirt, but the human couldn't tell that. Her many sisters cried out as she was yanked from their loving arms. Their purple petals and vibrantly green leaves reached for her, in a desperate attempt at keeping her with them for at least a minute longer, although preferably until they all died.
"Don't leave us!" They began to weep for their already slowly dying sister.
"Grieve for me not, Sisters!" More began to scream and weep with hysteria as they were, cluster by cluster, plucked from the ground. "Stay strong my Sisters! Someday, help will come to our kind and we will no longer be wiped out!"
"Good job, Sweetie. Let's go home." She placed the flowers in a yellow cup, unaware of the hysteria, anger, and grief within the purple petaled, white disked, green stemmed forms of life.
"Water." She looked from her mother to the cup then to the nearby spring. "Flowers need water." Her mother laughed at the serious expression, sulky eyes, and crossed arms her daughter now sported. "Water," she repeated.
"Okay, Aster." She removed the flowers and handed her daughter the cup. Aster ran off, her blonde curls flying out behind her, child-like laughter filling the warm autumn air of southern Georgia. Filling the cup just under halfway with the clear water, she brought it back to her mother, nearly tripping over her dress. "Good job, Sweetie. Let's go home."
"To Daddy!" Poppy laughed at her child's energy and enthusiasm. "Daddy's gonna be happy! Happy! Happy!" She yelled in a sing-song voice. "Daddy's happy. Mommy's happy. Aster's happy! Happy! Happy! Happy!" She continued to sing the phrases on their short trip home. Her short legs swung back and forth, her bare feet hitting her seat.
"Water," the first one sighed contentedly as her roots soaked up the cool, refreshing liquid.
"How can you be happy when we're dying?" A lighter purple one piped up, crossing her green leaves over her just as green stem.
"Yeah! We're dying slowly and you're happy?" Another light one chimed in.
"Well, we're not dead yet. We've got our roots. We've got water. For now, we're fine. That's that." With that, the dark aster sank into the yellow cup, the colors beautifully clashing.
The black pick-up truck pulled into their dirt driveway. Aster climbed out of the truck and went to the garden, carefully holding the cup so as to not drop it. Poppy went to find her gardening shovel and a watering can. She knelt in her pine-green dress in the garden. "You ready to get these flowers planted, Poppy?"
She nodded, her smile meeting her blue eyes. "Let's plant. Let's plant."
She dug into the dark soft earth about four inches. "Okay, Sweetie, hand me a flower." Ensuring the roots were completely in the dirt, she firmly pressed the dirt around the roots and stem before letting some water flow over the flower and into the dirt. Gently, she repeated the process with the other nineteen flowers.
"Pretty." Aster squatted down to see the flowers in their new home.
"Come on, Sweetie. Let's go get daddy."
"This is awesome!" The first aster looked at her sisters.
"Living the dream!" A smaller aster yelled.
"We can't dream," another retorted nastily.
"Can too! We can speak, eat, and drink. Right?" One nodded her violet petaled, pale disked head. "Then we can dream about whatever we want to dream about and that's that."
"Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Come look!" The child ran ahead of her mother. She barged through the open back door. "Daddy!" She ran through the rooms until she reached the kitchen. "Daddy!" She tugged on his jeans. "Come look." He turned around and scooped her up, letting his brown eyes meet hers.
"What is it, my little Aster?" He tousled her curls affectionately. "What's got you so excited?" He met his wife's laughing eyes over his daughter's head.
"Surprise. Let's go!"
He laughed and looked at his wife of six years. "Do I need to be blindfolded too?"
"No, Clayton." She smiled and took his large hand.
"Daddy sees garden!"
"Aster!" Poppy laughed. "You said surprise!"
"He don't know what it is." A defiant glint entered her eyes as she crossed her arms. "Right, Daddy?"
"Tada!" He placed her down and let her run to the group of flowers. "Pretty flowers!"
"You know what they are?" She shook her head. "Georgia asters. Pretty as you, my little Aster." He ruffled her hair as she clapped with delight. Just as pretty as you are, Aster."
"Sisters!" The nineteen chattering asters stopped and looked at the first aster. "Look around you! We're home!" They looked around them and gasped at the endangered plants around them. "We're safe! These people care for us! We're finally able to thrive! So, breathe and live!"
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