THE PASSING STRANGER

THE PASSING STRANGER
Philip Vermaas

*
*********A man was passing through a park.

          ‘Pssst!’ he heard from a flower-bed and curiously went over.
          ‘Yes?’ enquired the man.
          A flower said to him, ‘Please take me home. I’m a sad flower who wants to leave the park, to experience something in life, to rise above my peers. In return I will give you beauty. I’ll be my most beautiful for you.’
          ‘No!’ said the man emphatically.
          ‘Why?’ asked the flower mournfully.
          ‘I’ll tell you,’ he said and told the flower a story…

   “A man saw a flower. How beautiful, he thought, and marvelled at the universe.
    But the flower spoke to him. ‘Take me home,’ it said.
    ‘I couldn’t do that,’ said the man. ‘I marvel at the universe because it possesses me. Me who marvels, not me who possesses.’
    ‘Please,’ begged the flower. ‘I’m not appreciated here, not as I am, amongst many. Not everyone marvels at my beauty, silly man.’    

    ‘But,’ pleaded the man, ‘if I were to pluck you, you would certainly die and I’d have killed something I loved.’
    ‘Well,’ said the flower, strangely happy, ‘don’t pluck me, up root, up root, transplant me, as they say, and I will live my natural course.’
    ‘No!’ frowned the man. ‘I couldn’t deprive the people who would stop and marvel at you. I don’t wish to own your beauty.’
    ‘I’ve already told you,’ said the flower, ‘no one takes the time to appreciate one flower of a multitude. It is my very simplicity that begets much of my beauty. Look around, look how many there are like me. I’m common and won’t be missed. But if you take me I will rise above my fellow flowers, whose beauty goes overlooked everyday.’

    The man looked upon the beautiful flower. To him it was already distinguished, peerless, but he could find no fault with the flower’s reasoning. So, carefully, he dug it out at the root and, just as carefully, carried it home. At home, he found the flower an old cake tin and punched drainage holes through the bottom.
    ‘There you are, my flower,’ he said. ‘Maybe you are right. Maybe you will help me marvel at the universe a little each day.’
    ‘I think we’ll be very happy together,’ said the flower.

    The next day the man went to his living room to see the flower, to see if he really would be able to marvel at the universe. The flower was just waking and the man marvelled at the universe.
    ‘You were right about everything, flower,’ said the man. ‘I love you, flower.’
    ‘I thank you for loving me, dear man,’ said the flower sleepily.

    Everything went well. Every morning the man would marvel at the universe and tell the flower he loved it. The flower’s reply was always the same: ‘I thank you for loving me, dear man.’

    Then, one day, the man found the flower looking sad and unwell, it was wilting.
    ‘What’s wrong?’ asked the man.
    The flower spoke softly. ‘I’m dying,’ said the flower.
    ‘Don’t do that, dear flower. Tell me what more I can do? I’ve given you water and sunlight and, above all, I’ve given you love.’
    The flower cried. ‘There is nothing to do but to let me die.’
    ‘I’ve got it!’ exclaimed the man. ‘I’ll hurry you back to your spot in the park. You grew well there.’
    ‘It’s no use,’ cried the flower, but the man took no notice. He grabbed the tin and set off for the park.

    Soon the man had brought the dying flower back to its surroundings, its place in the flower-bed.
    The flower still cried. ‘It’s no use. It’s too late.’
    ‘I can’t believe it,’ said the man as he sat next to the flower. He too began to cry. ‘You were a fool to have asked me to take you away. Look, now you’re dying.’
    ‘No,’ whispered the flower, ‘you’re the fool. If you cry when a flower dies how are you going to cope with the rest of your life?’
    ‘I’m a man,’ he said, ‘it’s man’s nature to cry when something he loves dies.’”

          ‘Do you see, flower?’ said the man, having finished his story. ‘I’m wiser for knowing that story.’
          ‘I see,’ said the flower, ‘but surely if you are wiser for knowing that story then you’ll not cry when I die.’
          ‘That’s where you are wrong. It’s my nature to cry when things I love die. Now I just know to avoid it.’
          ‘You are evolved,’ said the flower. ‘If only I had something other than my beauty with which to tempt you, then you might take me home.’
          ‘But?’ asked the man seriously. ‘Why would you want to leave if you knew you were going to die?’
          The flower smiled. ‘Because I know something you don’t.’
          ‘Yes?’ asked the man.
          ‘I know that you’re the man in your story.’
          ‘True,’ said the man. ‘How do you know that?’
          ‘Because,’ smiled the flower, ‘because I’m that flower. So, you see, I did not die and so have nothing to fear.’
          ‘Tough,’ said the man, ‘my lesson is learnt. I’m glad you lived but you were only lucky. So, dear flower, you see that I learn anyway. I am evolved and have evolved. I am man, that’s my nature.’

          The flower conceded. ‘I cannot fault you. Goodbye, passing stranger.’
          That very day the flower died.

©2011 This work is the property of the author.

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  1. Beautiful……

  2. For some reason I was put in mind of “Leon”, the film.

    This piece made me think. I like that. Thanks.

  3. m lewis redford

    the escape from wanting escape … deeper love; sweet

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