'I hope I’m not Weak!' Tulip whispered. Rose, smirking, unfurled her leaves, and in a sickly sweet voice remarked, 'Well I wouldn’t be surprised! The last one of your kind went Weak because she wasn’t chosen.’
‘Oh stop it, Rose!’ Daffodil chided, her amiable nature getting the better of her. The Sunn Marigold and Marie Sunflower sisters, swaying gently in the breeze nearby, mild - natured, felt their leaves wrinkle with worry. Rose wasn’t to be crossed, they knew.
‘She snapped. The competition got to her. She just wasn’t meant to be the Chosen One.’ Rose barked back, annoyed by Daffodil’s interruption. She was a prickly character, Rose, metaphorically as well as literally. Her sharp thorns kept the others far at bay, as did her haughty demeanor. She refused to give anyone advice or help, which disappointed the new buds, whose velvety petals and fresh scents only fueled Rose’s rage, and unknowing of this they vied for her attention, as she was one of the oldest members of the garden. She had closed herself off to the world, only sneering at the other flowers in the garden.
‘That’s true. She went….Weak. Her stem splintered into two.’ Lily, the resident gossip whispered the last few words, because several were worried about the string of Weak cases amongst the population lately, and the round of gasps that followed only alarmed the flowers more. ‘Weak? What does that mean?’ Orchid, in her foreign lilting accent, asked. She was new to the neighborhood, and unbeknownst to her, the others often false reports about her being a bad neighbor with the Vice President of the United Front of Mixed Flowers, Jasmine. The United Front was an ‘all-inclusive’ committee, headed by the sisters, Marie Sunflower and Sunn Marigold, often lovingly referred to as the grandmothers. More often than not the ideals the founders had in mind were forgotten, and the flowers often bickered and backstabbed other members. When Jasmine, the Head Counsellor pored over these fake reports late into the night, hunched over, she shook her head.
Native flowers, as she had often observed in her time as Head Counsellor, were often insecure at the arrival of a new foreign kind, and did their very best to weed them out. The new arrivals often had glamorous petals, sometimes even four to five shades of color, and their leaves were livelier, fresher, with a spring in their stem. They became Chosen Ones soon after they arrived, and after they left Jasmine often had several to console, and self-esteem hit an all-time low. There was huge competition amongst her kind, Jasmine knew, and only the strong, of mind and body could survive. Those who failed to become Chosen Ones were often cut and thrown out of the garden.
The unsophisticated and common daisies and petunias had to work hard to stand out and spent countless hours and tremendous effort into being as exceptional as the foreign Orchid, or as bittersweet as Rose. Their efforts were often to no end, and they usually ended up in the rubbish, in their tough system, was rigged to favor the beautiful and elite.
And always, there was a shroud of inky black fear, the very thought of which choked them. The fear of going Weak, left at the mercy of others and meeting their pitying gazes were more than enough to send them spiraling down into darkness.
Weak; ‘A state of mind and body where one is broken, snapped in two, by pressure or other circumstances. When a Flower goes Weak, their stem often snaps, and they can no longer hold themselves up anymore,’ as defined by Forester’s Dictionary of Buds, Blossoms, and Flowers. The pressure nowadays, Jasmine pondered, was too much and even the most resilient were often battered and bruised as they fought against the waves of vicious, nasty, malicious words that threatened to pull them under. Her mind drifted off, as she recalled the incident that took place the previous month.
When Jasmine came up to her office one day, she found Hibiscus, slouched over her doorstep looking like she was going to collapse. Jasmine had rushed towards her, stopping her from bowling over, or splitting in two. Hibiscus had breathed heavily and whispered, ‘They laughed at me.’ As she trembled in Jasmine’s firm grasp, Jasmine immediately knew what had happened, and had been worried about it for a week.
At Hibiscus’s previous weekly session, scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, and the one time in the week Hibiscus was never late, Hibiscus arrived 15 minutes late, looking frazzled, and Jasmine noticed that something was off. Hibiscus had salmon pink petals, with tinges of amber here and there. The others were sure she’d never be Chosen, because of her refusal to change her appearance. She liked the all-natural look, and that was why Jasmine had stared at her quizzically for a few moments when she had entered, a deep scarlet red outlining her petals. Hibiscus then explained to her, with a heavy heart that she had given up, and the terror of going Weak had pushed her into these measures. Jasmine always tried not to appear judgemental, and so, all she could do was tell Hibiscus she didn’t need anything to cover her beauty, but even as she said it, Jasmine knew it wasn’t true.
But there was nothing she could do, and how could one flower possibly change anything, she thought, and so she tried her best to console her. Some said the world was getting better for them, but society's shackles were still binding them, now more than ever. Small buds thought that to be Chosen, each flower had to patch over their faults, and the older flowers were bad influences, creating insecurity and self-esteem issues early on.
Every morning, at 6 am the vendors used to come trooping into the garden, choosing only the finest specimens. These were pulled out of the ground, and some unlucky ones were yanked out of the ground, and their feeble stalks, unable to stand the pressure, snapped. Usually, the new gardners did this, and then looked annoyed for a second before throwing the Weak, and therefore useless flower aside, and moving on to others. Some held the flowers delicately, and those flowers were the lucky ones. This was only their first trial. Another awaited.
Every day was a day of disappointments, frustrations, and defeats, and every day they were displayed, for hours on end, having to keep their stalk straight and their posture perfect, to hide all imperfections, just so they could be Chosen. At 9 am, the flower market started and potential Choosers strolled through the lane looking for the perfect flowers. Strangers roughly stroked their leaves, commenting on their complexion, noticing their vulnerabilities. ‘The leaves on this one aren’t green enough,’ one lady stated, trying to drive down the price of the lilies. ‘Ouch! Damn it, these thorns are sharp!’ a lovesick man in his early 20’s, who came looking to buy a rose for his beloved, complained. ‘Look at these daisies Mum! They’re so plain! Why would anyone buy them?’ a little boy asked his mother, looking for flowers to decorate her home. People from all over the countryside visited the street on their way from or to somewhere, all having a destination in mind. But the flowers could not, as they stood there, night and day, rain and sun, waiting for someone to Choose them.
They longed to find a place for themselves, and even tomorrow morning at 5 am you will see the young buds, not yet having faced the cruelties of life, excitedly waiting, blissfully ignorant of what the morning holds. The older ones, trained by the master of everything, Time itself, know the struggles, but will not destroy the buds’ beautiful dreams, they too are secretly holding on to the hope of being Chosen.