Daffodils Aren’t For Eating

Submitted into Contest #86 in response to: Write a story where flowers play a central role.... view prompt


Coming of Age Teens & Young Adult Adventure

“Okay listen up, most of you know the rules” My uncle Clyde’s voice booms. He used to be an auctioneer so his loud and fast paced voice is perfect for this role. “But I’ll go over it for a couple of the new faces we got here today.” I look around to spot my roommate and friends from college, my niece, a few of my cousins I haven’t seen for a while and other faces who seem familiar but I can’t quite identify. “First, you’ve all been given an envelope with a clue to the items you’ll have to find.” His loud voice wakes me up from my pondering of how the most random set of people I know ended up in this year’s game. “I’ll give you a minute to open your envelope, read your assigned teams to develop a strategy then it’s go time” he concludes for the moment.

I quickly glance at the envelope Uncle Clyde handed to me a few minutes ago and tear it open. Normally I hate how the edges tear unevenly and I’ll instead slowly slide my fingers along the seam to open it neatly but now is no time for neatness. I’m about to start playing a game that became my favorite family tradition growin up. I have never lost and I cannot lose now. After I tear my envelope open I glance at the card, reading it quickly but carefully. It reads “Welcome to the 10th Annual Swanson Family Hunt and Hide Game! This year’s special twist is that we’re having a spring theme. I want to surprise my wife Carolyn with a bouquet of flowers so each item is a flower that you’ll need to find on campus and bring to the center where your clay pot lies.”

Finally I get to my favorite part of the card where it shows the teams he’s selected for everyone. I’m hoping I get to play it with my old friends or cousins but even as I skimmed through the card I’m already getting a look of disappointment on my face. “Your team is: Miles Swanson” the card reads. This cannot be. This is usually where there’s at least one or two names listed below me but it’s just my name! I look even further down where he’s handwritten a note. “Miles I know you’ve never lost this game and you never want to but I want you to have confidence in yourself, you’re a strong young man and I know you can do it on your own.” My sadness quickly turns into determination, my uncle knows just how to push my buttons. I look up at him and he winks at me, shouting “Time’s up! Everyone get ready, we’ll go over the last few rules and get going.”

“You all know your teams and what to find” Uncle Clyde continues. “The only other rules are if you get tagged you must come back here to the center. You can only be tagged out if you have an item in hand and you can only tag with empty hands. The first team to put all of their flowers in their pot wins” I scan the area quickly, knowing a countdown from 3 would start in seconds. The campus is my old high school and I know the layout well. There are four flower gardens on each corner of the school as well as the entrance to keep it symmetric, which was one of my favorite things about it. “The game starts in 3” Clyde’s voice booms. I look down at my card, skimming it for a flower who’s placement I might know. “2!” He continues. I see pansy on the list and know I’ve run past a patch of white pansies with purple butterfly imprints during track season years ago. I loved to gaze at them and smell the fresh flowers as I jogged by. “1!” Clyde raises a cap gun and pulls the trigger announcing the official start of the game.

Before I even realize it, I’m in a runner's stance, a stance I know all too well and I’m pushing off my right foot with as much force as I have within me, sprinting down the hallway out of the common’s area knowing it was the fastest way outside and knowing I’d likely be able to outrun everyone to the first flower I’ve identified. After 15 second of the hardest sprinting I’ve done in my life I’m a few yards away from the exit door so I slow down, push it and glide outside past all three steps that lead to a pass of grass I used to play football on as a little kid. I quickly take a sharp left knowing I’m just another hundred yard sprint from the patch of flowers. I’m running out of breath but I keep going as fast as I can until I get a few feet away and slow to a halt, carefully picking a few flowers. I’m not sure how serious my uncle was about the bouquet but if he was actually giving them to aunt Carolyn I wanted her to have a nice bouquet. Just as I’m picking the last flower, my heart sinks as I see a shadow coming up behind me.

I stand up and turn around to find my college roommate, Kolten facing me. I must have a scared look on my face because the only thing he says is “What’s wrong man, you know I can’t catch you.” I’m not sure if he’s playing a trick on me or not. We’ve ran track together for years and I’ve only beaten him a couple of times. But this is 5 years and one knee injury later for him so I accept this as a challenge I can win. “Guess we’ll test out that theory, huh?” I say as I take off in a dead sprint to the school’s nearest entrance. I’m careful to move my left arm as little as possible to preserve the flowers but still pull away from him as I pull open the door to the school’s indoor tennis facility. 

My senses are immediately overwhelmed as the gym is packed with so many sounds, smells and sights. I immediately realize I’ve walked into Club Tennis Championships as I smell the rubber and felt of new tennis balls, hear them bouncing everywhere, hear parents screaming and cheering for their kids and see hundreds of heads turn toward the weirdo standing there with a handful of fresh pansies. My face flushes red and I slowly walk past all 8 courts trying to disturb the games as little as possible. I dodge a few tennis balls and focus solely on the exit sign on the opposite side of the gym.

As soon as I reach the door, I push it open, wipe the sweat off my brow and resume my sprint, knowing there’s a good chance anyone could be lurking around the corner. Thankfully, I’m able to run unimpeded and skid to a halt as I reach my pot sitting in the middle of the commons area, quickly placing the flowers inside. I grab my card trying to figure out where the next flower will be. Daffodil is the next one I spot and remember there’s a line of them next to the sidewalk by the front entrance. As I’m about to leave I spot my mom and decide getting intel and a break might not be a bad idea.

I walk a few steps in her direction and before I can say anything she says “Miles, are you having fun?” Before I can think I say a phrase I know she dislikes, “I’m winning, aren’t I?” “Well you are the first back with a flower, but you know everything isn’t about winning or losing.” I got all the info I need and caught my breath so I just reply “Thanks mom!” and jog to the entrance of the school.

Even though I slow down my pace to keep my energy up, I still manage to get to the entrance in less than a minute. That’s when I’m forced to question my senses as I spot a cow eating flowers a small distance away from the school. The next thing I see makes a little more sense as my 5 year old niece, Kaylee is sitting on the ground a few feet away from the cow. She looks up at me, points to the cow saying “Moooo” in the deepest voice she can muster.

Knowing my opponents usually try to trick me into losing I carefully ponder if I should take Kaylee to mom or keep going when I get a genius idea. I walk up to the daffodils and pick just one, hoping I won’t have to run too fast. I turn my head to the left to get her attention again “Kaylee!” I say. “Hi Miles!” I hear back. “I got the flower, you better get me” I say. I know it works when I hear her tiny feet shuffle on the pavement as we both run away from the cow and into the school. Just as I enter, one final noise brings me back to reality.

“Beep, beep, beep! beep, beep, beep!” I rub my eyelids and open my eyes. Next thing I know I’m in a dark room staring up at the ceiling. My alarm is going off and I quickly grab my phone. The time says 6:55am. I’m rudely reminded by my alarm that it’s a Thursday, that I have to get ready for work and adults don’t really play games like that. But maybe there are lessons to be learned. Growing up is a good thing but we don’t have to lose the child within us. And maybe, just maybe it would be a good idea to pick some flowers for the ones you love every once in a while or at least stop to smell the flowers yourself.

March 25, 2021 21:15

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