A special thank goes to Laura Fraschetti who not only translated, but also interpreted this little story for you to enjoy.
Story of a young and reckless flower, that one day decided to leave, deserting the meadow where it was born in and to see the rest of the world.
Once upon a time there was a flower whose name was… Forget the name, flowers have loads of names and this story can fit any flower. This flower’s job was…being a flower.
Everybody knows how to do it: you stick there, right in the middle of a clod – preferably soft, warm and moist – stand still all day looking around and, when the sun sets, go to sleep. Actually, this looks like the life, but like everything on earth, it has its pros and cons.
It is such a bliss basking all day in the sun, feeling its warmth on your petals, stretching your stem towards those beams, letting the gentle caress of the breeze softly touch your leaves, sinking your roots in the warm soil. There is nothing better than ‘folding’ your leaves and direct your corolla to the sun!
On the other hand, it is less relaxing being scrambled by the wind and slapped by the stormy rain – lightening, thunder, heavy rain falling down cats-and-dogs. You need to have strong roots and hold tight to the cold and muddy ground, if you don’t want to be swallowed up by the wind, which rattles you to and fro.
As a matter of fact, a flower’s life is like anybody else’s – it has its ups and downs. Everyone has its ‘job’ to do. The flower in this story carried out its own with some success and dignity, despite not being firmly convinced. If one wanted to make a comparison to a fellow man in its same condition, we would say that ‘he had strange ideas in his head’. But during the day in this flower’s head you can usually find bees, bumble-bees, lots of other insects and a hummingbird. So, if for a flower it may be ordinary to have strange things in its head, this flower of ours was no ordinary flower. It reckoned that being a flower was mainly an…..arid exercise. Yes, this was the exact expression he used – and for a flower ‘arid’ does not denote a temporary state of ‘boredom’, but something much more negative and final. No, it was no ordinary flower: it had an irrepressible desire to….leave! Let everything go and leave.
The idea of travelling is rather bizarre for a flower and, on second thoughts, it is also dangerously outrageous. The Laws of Nature – its Country – are so few yet so simple that it is inconceivable that anyone could infringe them and get away with it. Everyone stays to where they were born as long as they dry out. It is easy to imagine the serious consequences this transgression could lead to – ending up onto some dry and arid soil or in a greenhouse or in some cultivated land and be sprinkled with those poisons humans are so greedy of, considering the use they make for their food; ending up on the asphalt or the cement, such an horrible death that you wouldn’t even wish to weeds or to those infesting plants such creepers are – which is slowly dry.
It is plain to see that travelling is an alien concept to flowers…..but this flower deeply felt that one day it would make a journey. Either to a far place or to a close one, a journey would always be a long trip for a flower. Despite knowing it knew would leave one day or another, it was in no hurry, or was not anxious at all. Being a vegetable, it took it easy due to that typical laziness of flowers: it enjoyed it so much standing in the middle of the field he was born in, loafing with its fellow field flowers, bushes, blades of grass, clover turfs, poppies, dandelions with their lovely heads, primroses, daises, speedwell, chamomile, trumpet-flower and tassel-hyacinth. The journey did not scare it; it would easily know when the time to leave has come. This journey was born inside it, the very moment it had peeped out of the soil in search of the sunlight and heat.
That was a Good-day. Early-morning chill had given way to the heat of the sun. The tree leaves glistened, the flowers unfolded their corollas, every corner of that field was flooded with that warm and bright light. It was a meadow like any other, as beautiful as a green spring meadow can be when it swings at the puff of southern wind. That was exactly what it was. Seven white long-necked and long-legged storks, slender and superb, flew high dotting the blue of a particularly clear morning sky, tight in their V-formation fly, held with such precision and naturalness as only birds can achieve. They moved fast towards who knows what different place. During the moment of their passage the wind reverberated the flip of their wings which was distinctly audible in the silence of the surrounding air, but then it faded and disappeared with those white tiny dots.
That flower was born right there, in that very field. It peeped out from a turf, all ruffled. The blades of grass mixed higgledy-piggledy. It emerged right next to the railroad track, one of those veryveryverylong tight pieces of iron, run across by that machine men call ‘train’. Flowers don’t know it by that name because to them it is a violent and sweeping wind by which the train is announced just a few moments before, with the typical whistle flowers never heard by any bird. Moreover, the flowers close to the rail track have never seen a still ‘train’, so it’s no wonder if they claim that it is … wind. Have you ever been on the platform of a tiny station in a village? A train, when it travels through, produces a gust which suddenly dies down; wind, precisely.
That field, run through by the railroad, was not that bad. Unless cloudy, it was always flooded by sun light and warmth. The sun beams were not obstructed either by any natural or artificial obstacle or mountains, or grey buildings which cast their shadows on the field. Stormy winds seldom blew; more often a southern breeze came caressing the grass turfs and the flowers that sprouted like colourful touches in the different shades of green, giving brightness to the scenery. The blowing wind produced a gentle movement: the field looked like a green sea in the swinging left and right of the blades of grass and of the flower stems. Every now and then, a train passed and produced a little turmoil in such calmness. One had to hold tight so as not to be torn away by such a weird wind which rose so suddenly and as suddenly stopped in just few moments. Indeed, in just one moment, one could be pulled away and carried who knows where. “Who knows where?” that flower always wondered and the answer intrigued him in a morbid way which almost tormented him. “Where would it carry” it asked itself. It was irresistibly attracted by the word ‘Where’, i r r e s i s t i b l y.
That day was about to end. Like every day, the sun had generously lit and warmed this field. Now it was withdrawing behind that hill, ready to start everything over at the other hemisphere. In a short while the sky would lose its colours and dusk set the clouds on fire. The Earth would mirror its light to the sky, colouring in pink the puffs of the chubby clouds. The wind chilled and the clouds ranranran in the sky, further up as if they were running away from someone who wanted to seize them.
That day that flower was a little restless, not only because of the wind. It was sad as sad one can be when something beautiful is about to end. And that day which was about to end had been real good. Restless because normally when the day was over, the flower’s thoughts were over too. That day they persisted despite the day was over. Where? Where? That question recurred over and over. Where will it lead? WHERE?….Where?
Here it comes! It blew. It approached in a moment, swift, a blast, sudden, that wind passed again, just like all the other times. And just like all the other times, that track animated the surrounding space. The still, unanimated, cold track could make everything around it vibrate with life. A whistle then the wind and it was a sudden creaking of the sleepers. The pebbles shook, the turfs hit to the ground – now on one side, then on the other. Every single flower stalk or blade of grass were desperately trying to stay where they stood. Leaves and petals came off, flew to the air, dry soil drifts were blown away in the blink of an eye, soon to become a new drift further up.
Everything was tossed, stirred, moved – life made itself heard in a dreadful racket. The sweet tidiness of a field quiet as quiet can be, overthrown by the chaotic disorder of whirlwinds which twist dust, leaves and petals around themselves.
Wind, wind, wind.
It suddenly and violently came, it tore and swept away everything in its path. That flower held, it held to the soil, it clang to its roots. It felt sucked up by the air, it held, the air pulling it, it held tight then it let go, it gave in and flew up.
The flower kept twisting and turning in the air, jolted either up or down by huffs and puffs. Swallowed by a whirl, dragged by a gust. Several times it was about to be banged to the ground and suddenly driven to such a height that it felt about to exit the world. From its world it had definitely got out, but it was not ever scared, not even for one moment.
In the wake of the turbulence of the train, it was jostled along with leaves, pollen, petals, soil, wisps of straw, grains of sand, seeds, insects, as if it was still on the field. No, it had not exited the world yet, it simply found out the world was bigger than it thought. Much bigger that the field it was born in.
“Being a flower” had never carried it away. It did not dislike it – it was proud to be a flower but it wasn’t happy to have to stand still in one single place. Now it moved. It was amazing to be carried up and down by sharp currents. The swift accelerations and decelerations, the traverse and cross changes of trajectory, in all directions, conveyed a unique sense of freedom. Yes, it is true, it was helpless in all this movement. For sure, it would have been perfect to have a couple of wings…being able to move freely, but it was suitable for birds. It was just a flower.
Suddenly, yet another blast, one of the many, brought it up… The flower was about to hit the ground when a strong updraught pulled it up, further up, to the height possible to birds. And there it could see!
It saw a “thing” running through those two narrow and parallel pieces of iron which had belonged to its field since the day it opened. They were longlonglong and one couldn’t say where they ended. Were they responsible for all that wind?
To its great surprise and satisfaction, it finally realized what that whistle was – that wind that suddenly blew and as suddenly blew away. While it was admiring all this, it began it slow but inevitable fall to the ground. It realized that the green was giving way to a rather disturbing sweep of grey. The more it flew downwards, the closer it could see. That grey upset it. When it was low enough, it could see well – it was asphalt and cement. All in all, what it had seen thanks to this trip was much more than it could hope to see staying all its life in that field. It had been worth the while and it was happy. How it would end up was unimportant. It was happy. It ended its journey lying on a grey and hard pavement made of asphalt. That is how it ended…..
It ended up to the a girl’s feet. She was passing by in that moment. I was there, I saw it all. I saw that flower descend from up high and land on the pavement while a girl was walking in its direction with a pace denoting a mixture of haste, resolution and insecurity. The girl was walking as on eggs shells – her pace was careful and soft in order not to break them – without lingering, and the next step followed firm and then another as soft and as firm. She made a sound that I would recognize in a million. Clear in the loneliness of the pavement in the first shadows of the night, but distinguishable even in the crowd that filled up both sides of the road in the peak hour. It was like witnessing the birth of a tiny, little Venus who takes her first steps licking the water surface. A sound that gets in and forces the heart to synchronize to those steps – the beat stays suspended the moment the foot tip lifts and knocks when the shoe heel touches the ground again.
It was a special day for that girl, too: it was her birthday. She suddenly stopped and stooped. She was wearing a green-brownish skirt, almost ‘mud’. I covered its length with my eyes along her beautiful legs, before reaching her arm moving towards the ground. She had noticed the flower – a colorful dot in the grey, a lovely scent in the reek. She smiled, picked it up gently and looked around. I withdrew for fear of being an intruder in her story. She twisted it in her fingers to admire its beauty. “You are the most precious, unexpected gift I could wish for in this lonely day”. A wet veil in her dark and deep eyes betrayed her emotions and tears came down her cheeks as straight as railroad tracks. She smiled again and placed the flower in her sweet-smelling dark hair. She took it with her. Home, with her.
‘A gift’. A field flower thought of as a gift…That flight had given the flower the greatest bliss of all: to be considered by the same standards as its posh cousins which stand solemnly in the vases of the downtown shops. “A gift is what I have wanted to be my whole life”.
Epilogue: the very moment the girl cried that single tear, she distinctly felt the air quivering between her and the flower, a soft breeze blew from their position, as if generated that moment in that spot. It lasted just the time to caress my cheek and go beyond my ear. It was enough for me to perceive a melody with some words that sounded like the lyrics of a song which goes: “And I thank you for bringing me here, for showing me home, for singing these tears, finally I’ve found that I belong here“.
The flower had found its real “home”. Our home.
Pictures from Flower © 2009 thatgamecompany for PlayStation Network, one of the best videogames for Playstation 3 (available also for Playstation 4 and Vita) , pearl of simplicity, genius and originality, able to yield a genuine sense of “amazement” like the one of a boy who experiments the world for the first time. Since 2013 it has been part of the permanent Collection “Films and Media Arts” at o The Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington D.C.), with full credit.
A special thank goes to Laura Fraschetti who not only translated, but also interpreted this little story for you to enjoy.