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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Hot and Cold (04/09/09)

TITLE: Daisy Tears
By Beth Muehlhausen


Daisy Tears

She nestled her little-girl body in the tall grasses where she sat with a bunch of freshly picked wild daisies. Their fibrous stems had been reluctant; they no doubt hated to give up their carefree freedom along the edge of the country road.

With her legs criss-crossed, she released the bouquet from her sweaty palms. Prickles of sunshine danced on shoulders covered only by the thin straps of her homemade sundress.

She picked up one blossom and spoke to it with the innocence known only to small children. “Tell me the truth,” she said. “Do my parents really love me?”

Her father had recently steadied her bicycle as she took her first solo ride without training wheels.

“Loves me, loves me not, loves me, loves me not, LOVES ME…”

The petals dropped off, one by one by one. As she picked up another flower, her father’s angry words - spoken just that morning - replayed in her mind.

“You’re a liar! You didn’t come when you were called – and you said you were coming. Never lie to me, or anyone else, again. Do you understand, young lady?”

In reality she never heard him call, and so could not answer. She certainly did not lie. But he wouldn’t, or couldn’t, hear her plea for mercy.

“Loves me, loves me not, loves me, LOVES ME NOT…”

Her mother, an emotionally unsafe woman, was racked by chronic depression and often lived in a silent world defined by deep sighing and hand wringing.

“Loves me, loves me not, loves me, LOVES ME NOT…”

Despite her debilitating issues and ongoing hospitalizations, her mother sewed most of her daughter’s clothes at an old, rather beat-up Singer machine.

“Loves me, loves, me not, LOVES ME…”

Each blossom was carefully dissected until a pile of white tear-shaped petals lay before her. Only the centers remained in her lap: a mound of yellow, blind eyeballs.

She shuddered a jerky sigh and watched grassy seed heads waving at eye-level in the summer breeze. Life was so confusing! Thankfully these flowers suggested at least half of the time she could expect to be loved.

A warm, sweet-smelling breeze stirred the crisp leaves in a nearby cottonwood tree and encouraged its little white fairy-like tufts to drift toward he ground. They descended on her silky blonde hair as if to gently caress her head and soothe her uncertainties.

She stood up and stretched to catch them – or perhaps to reach even higher, for the sky. If only she could somehow merge with the clouds and hide deep inside their gigantic, puffy softness and thus avoid returning home to the volatile emotions of her parents!

Did they love her? She didn’t know. She hated walking on eggshells every day in the midst of their up-and-down, hot-and-cold, fickle emotions. And yet it was too dangerous to be real.

Her bare feet soaked up the warmth from the old one-lane road with its oozing tar bubbles, and she walked slowly, slowly, looking for excuses to dawdle. Just before she reached her driveway, a cluster of daisies peeked from behind some tall weeds. She stopped and studied them carefully.

“Which one of you will tell me the truth?” she asked them. “Once and for all?”

They all nodded agreeably, as if competing for her attention. “I’ll pick THIS ONE. Now tell me truly, daisy.”

She stood in the middle of the road, an icon of childlikeness in all its dependent simplicity. The petals dropped, one by one.

“LOVES ME.” That settled it.

Years later she walked down the aisle of a church with her right arm interlocked in her father’s left. A bunch of daisies and yellow roses emerged as an extension of her gloved left hand.

At the altar as she stood face-to-face with her fiancé, she spontaneously pulled a daisy from her bridal bouquet and handed it to him before reciting previously memorized vows. “I take you as my husband from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. I will love and cherish you, and I pledge my faithfulness, until God parts us in death.”

He reached out and received the flower, and with a twinkle in his eye began pulling and dropping the petals. “Loves me, loves me not … LOVES ME!”

The petals lay like white tears of joy on the red carpet as the couple took their first communion together at the altar.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Rachel Stone04/16/09
Truly beautiful.
Laury Hubrich 04/16/09
I love this title. Excellent story-telling. So bitterly sweet.
Charla Diehl 04/16/09
Great illustration of the topic and how our emotions can be confusing at times for those around us.
Verna Cole Mitchell 04/18/09
Lovely story.
Jim McWhinnie 04/18/09
Lovely love and needing-to-be-loved story. Deeply touching.

I especially loved the line ..."Thankfully these flowers suggested at least half of the time she could expect to be loved."