@Hl_Blue has handled the Green Nation so far and he’s done a superb job in sharing two very interesting pieces that revolve around the government of plants, the attending feuds and the battle for survival. Today, we all enjoy a fresh angle to the picture together, you and I and @Hl_Blue himself.
Welcome to Green Nation – The Monarchy Of Roses by @_thinktank_, one whose stories are usually as interesting as they as mentally exciting
I was the ugly sister. The universally despised member of the clan. The one that did not fit preconceived notions and acceptable standards of what is good and true and beautiful. This was no fault of mine for I was born this way. Which of us has the power to design ourselves before birth? Which amongst us that looks upon our features with pride can claim praise for the craftsmanship that worked our beauty? Still, we who did not fit in were mocked and despised. I do not tell you this in lamentation, I tell you for your knowledge and for that reason only because your knowledge of it is pertinent to the rest my story.
I was born into a royal sap-line but I possessed none of the features of royalty. I was birthed with an abnormally thick stalk and prominent thorns while my sisters were slender and their thorns were nearly imperceptible. When they spread themselves, they produced thin, beautiful silhouettes on the earth beneath us and their appearance in the light of the life-giver was glorious – a fitting visage for flowers of royal descent. I, by contrast, was thick and bulky; still this was the least of my disfigurements for I was by some cruel twist of fate, born with a very different pigmentation from every other member of my family both living and before me. I was generally left to my own devices and looked upon from afar with pity and scorn by my own family. Who could blame them? No one wanted to associate with the aberration.
On that wretched day when my sisters and I were kidnapped from the bosom of our mother and the comfort of our home, we knew that we would not live much past our abduction for none of our clan ever does well without the support of the family structure, without the connection to the earth from which our sustenance would come. This tragic state of affairs was made more so by the unfortunate timing of our abduction for we had just been pollinated and our rosehips were swollen with seed. Knowing that our time was short, we began to prepare to free the seed, willing the almighty Gaia to send her messengers to come quickly so that our essences may live on.
We were placed erect in a small water prison from which we drew minor sustenance but we knew it would not last long. Water was merely a conduit by which we received our nutrients from the earth. To place us in the pipeline without any connection to a source was either cruel villainy or ill-thought out folly or perhaps both but whichever it was, this was what our captors had done. My sisters whispered secrets to each other using what little dissolved potassium there was in the water, faint hints of which I received but only when the message was degraded beyond comprehension. I was not bothered by this, I had always been ostracized and left out of important discussions. While they whispered their secrets with the potassium, I busied myself with absorbing as much of the nitrogen and phosphorus as I could through my stalk. It was a most strenuous exercise but I was determined to live long enough to see my seed disseminated. My lifelong handicap turned out to be a blessing as the greater surface area of my thick stalk gave me accelerated access to what little nutrients there were in the water. This wide stalk also ensured that I was favoured by photosynthesis to digest these nutrients and convert them to much needed energy. Energy was life and every minute I lived was another chance for Gaia to send her messengers. They had to come for my seed soon. I was determined to extend my life for as long as possible to see it so.
At the third setting of the life-giver, my sisters ceased their conniving and finally spoke to me, suggesting that I stop absorbing the essential nutrients and in so doing, sacrifice myself for their survival and procreation –the continuation of our royal sapline. They said that I was unfit to procreate. That it would be a great cruelty to bequeath my ugliness to another generation of our clan. I considered their proposal. Should I sacrifice my woeful difference that their normalcy may live on? That the deviation that was me may perish? No. I rejected this proposal for as much as I loved my sisters and our family, I wanted to seed my seed taken and given a chance to survive. I was unsure why but every fibre of my xylem and phloem screamed at me not to agree to my sisters’ thinly-veiled attempt to be rid of me and in so doing save themselves. And so I refused. They mocked me, then screamed at me and swore at me and said many horrible things no sister should ever say to another but I remained silent, after all, I was the ugly, outcast one. I was the one betraying the family. I turned my face from them and they raised their petals above mine to assert their superiority. I did not protest.
When the life-giver rose again I strained myself to receive as much of his light as I could. My sisters, realizing that most of the nitrogen and phosphorus essential to their livelihoods had been consumed whilst they had been whispering secrets, began to desperately strain their thin stalks in an attempt to absorb more quickly. They lowered their raised petals in order to give their stalks more access to water. I watched their attempts with pity. But in their struggle I began to see my purpose, why I was built this way. Their slender slim stalks were built for beauty and not survival as I was. I was a survivor. Built to live where my sisters would die.
Just as the eldest of my sisters began to plead with me for some manner of help, we were both lifted from our watery prison suddenly by a great pale monster – one of our original captors. I instinctively directed my thorns to my attacker and was quickly placed back into the prison while my sister was taken away. I watched with my younger sister as our sibling was handed from one monster to another who placed our sister in a tangled mess of blonde, glossy strings atop her head. We knew she was doomed for there could be no sustenance in that place. We said a silent prayer to Gaia for her.
Another setting of the life-giver came and went, but my other sister was already losing her essence. I was watching her die slowly. She did not even have the energy to send me potassium messages. Her petals had lost color and her stalk began to bend. I knew she was gone even before the end finally came.
“Oh Walter look! By the window! The two roses in the jar! The red one is bent and shrivelled but the pink one still looks lovely. You know, if you look at it from here, it looks like the Red one is bowing down to the Pink one. It’s strangely poetic don’t you think, Walter?
Here stands a beautiful and proud single red rose humbled by hunger, bowing to her sister…
begging for food perhaps?”
“Julia, my darling Julia, you have a writers mind and a poet’s soul. I don’t know why you chose to become a software engineer…”
I could sense from the vibrations of the air that the monsters were communicating but I did not care what they had to say. I cared only for my survival. As I watched my sister slowly slump and eventually collapse into the water, I let out a signal to say goodbye even though I knew she would never receive it. On some level, to my shame, I was glad, for her death would bring me sustenance for a few more days at least.
Three more comings and goings of the life-giver had occurred since my sisters’ demise and I was barely hanging onto my life. Nutrients had long left the water and I was subsisting on stored energy from days past. I had continued my prayers to and pleading with Gaia and was becoming weary of them when it appeared. My being leapt with joy as I spotted a cream-feathered cedar waxwing perch on the windowsill beside me. I began to vibrate my petals and wriggle my rosehips to my centre. The waxwing, sensing that food was nearby, came closer. Under normal circumstances, I would have waited for my petals to naturally fade before revealing my hips to a feeder from Gaia but these were extraordinary circumstances and required an extraordinary sacrifice. I had been preparing for this since we were first abducted. I summoned what energy was left in me from my leaves and broke the joint that attached my petal to my stalk. The pain I felt was terrible but I endured it and I willed the Waxwing to look closer and see the rosehips that were his escape from starvation and my route to immortality. The bird came even closer. This time I saw the sparkle in his eye as he reached into the jar and plucked my rosehip from my stalk just as one of the pale monsters came running to the window.
Relief washed over me as I watched the waxwing take flight into the pale blue sky, swallowing my hips as he did. I could now die safe in the knowledge that my sapline would survive me. My daughters would sprout from the seeds that the waxwing would excrete when he was sated and one of them would be queen of her own rose bush. Not a pink outsider in a sea of red – a mutant oddity. She would be a queen and her sisters would surround her proudly. They would possibly grow to be greater and more beautiful than their red cousins for I knew now that I served a purpose. I was not built for beauty like my delicate and beautiful red sisters, I was built to survive, to protect and to take over.
My pink petals were a banner of strength and victory and a purposeful beauty. Even though I had never been a princess, I had never been the ugly sister. I have always been the warrior queen…
…and I am dying a warrior’s death.
Thanks to The Afromuse, @HL_Blue, @MsJulz and The Red Hot Chilli Peppers for the inspiration
@_thinktank_ shares his art here. Please visit.
@HL_Blue shares his art here. Please visit.