18 April 2016

A Garden of Samanthas

On a hill, on the west side of the river, five miles from the nearest town, a ladybug took the liberty to sunning herself on a rock.

At the foot of the hill, in a house that must have grown up there a hundred years ago, the Wilson’s cat sat erect, staring at the pantry, trying to decide if was worth the effort and whether he could finish the job before the Mistress and man-child returned.

On the other side of the hill, where sun was still shining (and some say it still is) the Mistress and the man-child were concluding their evening meal, he his crackers and almonds (which he would not eat without peanut butter) and she her sandwich (which she preferred lightly toasted).

“What are you drawing, dear?” asked the Mistress.

“Issa samantha.”

“Samantha? It looks like a flower.”

“Uh huh. Issa flower.”

“Did you name it Samantha?”

“No, issa samantha,” said the boy impatiently.

“It’s a Samantha?”

“A samantha is a flower,” he explained.

“Oh, I see. I’ve never heard of such a flower before.”

“Uh-huh,” the boy conceded.

The boy often said odd things like this, and the Mistress had come to accept it. His father had tried to teach him about the names of Cows and Horses, but in spite of all his training the boy would never call trees “treesif for some reason he preferred them to be called elephants. When he spoke, his word was law. There was no convincing him out of it.

The drawing did not remotely resemble the yellow and pink rhododendrons in front of him. It was more purple than yellow (whether from artistic choice or the limitations of his color palette she could not decide) with vibrant, fiery appendages shooting out from the roots. She smiled to herself, and considered how dearly she loved him. And yet—when you really looked at the drawing, you couldn’t help but feel that it was somehow right that it should be called a samantha. And when she turned her gaze to the rhododendrons he was supposedly modeling, wasn’t there something very samantha­-like about them? Perhaps the man who had named them “rhododendrons” was the one who had got it wrong. Let it be known, world, that these flowers shall henceforth be called samanthas.

She checked herself. Of course this was nonsense. They were rhododendrons, not samanthas. She must explain this to him later. But not today. Some other time.

The Mistress said, “It’s time to go,” and it was. The boy took her hand and they turned their backs to the sun. But if they had been listening closely, they would have heard the faintest tingling music washing over the hillside. They did not know that the samanthas were singing, rejoicing quietly over the sound of their new name.

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