“Jacob, Julien, Esther…”
Of all the things in all of the world that Marinette could do, her most favorite thing of all was to sit in the center of the patch of flowers behind her school at recess and name them. For thirty minutes a day, five days a week, she would sit among the small clutches of flowers, delicately petting each one and bestowing a name upon it. Never did she use the same name twice; nor did she ever give one flower more than a single name.
“…Billy, Bobby, Ginny…”
Lovingly she would name them, each special because each was unique. Seated with them in the beautiful floral dresses that her mother had lovingly made for her, it would have been easy to mistake little Marinette for a flower herself. In her unique, child’s way, her world was perfect.
“…Nomie, Isaac, Elly…
The sun was bright, the day warm, but comfortably so. The other children were playing loudly, with hyperactive games of hide-and-seek, tag, and freeze tag working as place-holders for the games of war they would play when they were bigger children. Marinette didn’t care for these games, being happy and content with her flowers, and the fresh cut grass beneath her bare feet.
A sense of serenity had enveloped her, as it always did for thirty minutes a day, five days a week, one which was abruptly shattered by a kindless boy. With no warning at all, noisy little Isaac stormed through her flowers, knocking her over and spraying her with dirt and grass. Seeing the destruction that the boy had wrought, Marinette began to cry. Being full of the quick cruelty unique to young boys, Isaac shoved her roughly with his foot, shouting, “Be quiet, you stupid-head!”
No further thought for the crying girl in his mind, Isaac ran off to rejoin his game of preparatory war, at which he always won.
Sitting up again, Marinette looked at the retreating back of the boy, a calm disgust in her young eyes. Without needing to take her eyes from him, she reached out and plucked the flower that bore his name and held it before her.
“Isaac,” she whispered, crushing the flower in her delicate hand. She found, instantly, that she was no longer dirty, her dress no longer soiled, her flowers no longer trampled. Isaac was no longer there, though no one would miss him. He would never be remembered, like Paul, Stevey, Kevvy… All simply gone and forgotten, like flowers trampled underfoot.
Smiling, the world right again, she sat there, among the flowers, like a little flower herself, petting and naming them, each a kind friend. Never did she use the same name twice; nor did she give one flower more than a single name. Lovingly she named them, because each one was special, each one unique.
Harding McFadden is a milkman who lives in PA with his family and thousands of books.