Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Flowers (10/03/05)
TITLE: Beautiful Dirt
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Meanwhile, there was another girl who lived in a little hut not far off Jasmine's huge mansion. Her name was Helen. Helen wasn't rich. She hadn't owned a single toy in her life. She had no companions to play with at home - if you didn't count in the trees which she ran among in the evenings and the squirrels that she played with at the riverbank behind her house. She never had a single new dress - all hers were hand-me-downs from her elder cousins, and they were all patched in multifarious spots with a myriad of colors that simply stood out in contrast to the faded cloth. But she was happy, nevertheless, and was thankful for what little she had.
Now, one day, as Jasmine came home, she spotted Helen skipping gaily among the trees. Jasmine stared, horrified at the dress which Helen was wearing.
"What a distasteful dress you have!" Jasmine scrunched up her face in disdain.
Helen grew meek. She knew she was poor. But to be scorned by a rich girl who had everything she ever wanted in the whole world - oh! That was simply too much for her.
"And what are those in your hair?"
"Oh, these," Helen smiled, embarrassed. "Flow'rs, ma'am. I was a'playin wit 'em. They're beautiful, ain't them?"
Helen reached her right hand to take them off her hair. Lovely petals of white daisies and yellow carnations spilled off her head onto the grass.
Jasmine turned up her nose at Helen. "They're dirty. They've got germs on them. Mother says the only flowers that should be called flowers are those Mr. Gardenia plants in our gardens."
Helen grew speechless as Jasmine strolled daintily away to her house. She glanced around at the flowers and her little heart sank. "Dirty?" She couldn't believe her ears.
But these were beautiful! They were colorful! Yes, they are wild flowers - but they're not dirty!
Helen walked back into her house, feeling miserable and sad. Who wouldn't be miserable if they called your only playmates dirt? She was young and poor. But she wasn't stupid. And above all, she knew that wild flowers were God's precious gift for little girls whose parents hadn't got the money to purchase toys.
"Maybe Jasmine doesn't know that." the voice in her rationalized. "Maybe her mother thought wrong."
With this comforting thoughts, Helen forgot about the whole incident.
Three weeks later, Helen found out from her mother that Jasmine was very, very sick. Helen felt distraught. She did what came immediately into her mind. She changed into her best dress, got out of her house, and gathered a bunch of the most beautiful carnations in full bloom. Then she removed the pink ribbon that held her hair in place. It was the only ribbon she had, but her mind was made up, and there was no time to compromise.
Gingerly but carefully, she wrapped the stalks of the flowers with a piece of silver foil with wet cotton inside so the flowers would not wither, and tied them together with the pink ribbon. As soon as the doctor left the house, she made her way to the open gate leading to Jasmine's mansion, took a deep breath, garnered all her courage, and rang the doorbell.
We'll never know what happened when she saw Jasmine lying on her bed, surrounded with tissues and her eyes swollen from crying. We'll never know the smiles that crossed between them. We'll never know the conversation they shared, or whether Jasmine apologized.
But what we do know, is that till today, there is this garden patch which Mr. Gardenia never touches.
And there, in an array of such vivid colors - grows the most beautiful wild flowers.
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