Sophie reached down to pluck a flower.
A bee landed on the back of her hand. It moved awkwardly over a knuckle and onto a finger.
Sophie froze. “A bee!” she screamed.
The bee walked slowly to the end of the finger.
“Go away!” Sophie screamed.
“Why?” asked the bee.
“Because you’re a bee! You’re dangerous and you might sting me!”
“I promise I won’t sting you if you accept my offer,” said the bee.
“What do you want?”
“If you do not pluck that flower, I will make this finger magic.”
“Deal!” said Sophie.
The bee turned around several times on the fingertip. “Now if you touch that flower very gently,” the bee explained, “you will give it a second life.”
The pollinating bee vibrated its delicate wings and departed.
Sophie looked closely at the end of her finger.
When tongues are silent the stones will speak. As will the trees and the rivers and the rainbows and the stars.
When tongues cease, all things will speak gladly, freely.
The stones will speak of crumbling and the crucible.
The trees will speak of their unquenchable thirst and deep roots and seasons.
The rivers will speak of the ocean, and the rainbows will speak of the sun.
The stars will speak their infinite wisdom in a twinkling whisper.
A small shrine appeared on some bare dirt near the intersection where a transient had been struck and killed. Neighbors brought candles, roses, prayerful messages written on cards. The next day the City cleaned up the guttered candles and withered roses and tossed the messages into a plastic bag to be thrown away.
Carly, during a walk through the neighborhood, looked down at the dead patch of dirt. She wondered why a nameless person had drifted along her street.
All that remained beside the sidewalk were windblown leaves.
And one faded rose.
Carly leaned over, picked it up.
She took the spent thing back to her apartment. She put it in a damp paper towel. She made a quick trip to the store to buy a clay pot and small bag of soil. She prepared the stem for propagation. Her mother, long gone to heaven, had once taught her how.
Carly put the cutting into the soil and placed the pot in her small apartment window. She was careful to keep the soil moist and warm.
Early one morning, when nobody was about, she walked down the sidewalk back to the intersection and its dead patch of dirt. She brought a hand shovel.
Every morning after, she brought a water bottle.
. . .
Many years after Carly had joined her mother, those who walked by the intersection would pause to marvel at the strange abundance of wild, beautiful roses. Hundreds of blooms crowded the sidewalk.
It seemed the Hand of Fate had birthed an improbable garden.
Nobody knew where the roses had come from.
Beth loved to sit by the blue ocean. She loved to watch the clouds, the sea breeze sway white sails.
Her special park bench was planted among flowers. Like the dancing sails, the flowers came to life in the breeze, their bright colors tickling her eyes, tickling the sparkling blue that stretched away beyond sight. At the horizon the aquamarine water transformed to topaz. From there, ascendant magic lifted sun-sculpted clouds.
The world of flowers, water and sky seemed to her like a living window. A window with no frame.
. . .
The afternoon of the total eclipse brought a wall of people to the water’s side. The wall stood in front of Beth’s bench.
The wall’s eyes were down.
Anxious hands clutched a blank piece of paper. The people minutely examined a tiny crescent of light produced by a pin hole.
At total eclipse, the people craned their necks momentarily toward the appalling black hole in the sky.
Then stared again at slivers of light.
The wall finally crumbled.
Sitting on her bench, her small, single perch beside the stretching ocean, Beth breathed in with relief.
The shutters of her window had been reopened.
Beth gazed with her ever-thirsty eyes at the water, the endless sky. Above crushed flowers white sails still swayed in the ocean breeze, moving across the blue water. The living clouds were touched again by eternal light. And she knew her flowers would regrow.