Words by Melissa Santos, Illustrated by Zofia Chamienia
Melissa Santos is a recent History and Creative Writing graduate currently undertaking a Masters degree in Journalism. Her short story ‘A Frail Purple Flower’ is inspired by October’s theme of ‘change’ and touches on issues of mental health in light of the recent global situation. Melissa’s story is accompanied by an illustration by Zofia Chamienia, an illustration student at the University of Dundee. You can find more of Zofia’s work on her Instagram: @zofia.cham.illu
‘A Frail Purple Flower’
The ground is wet and muddy, the grass covered in thin droplets of cold water…From the dark brown soil, in between the vibrant green leaves spurs a new form of life. The thin, long stalk rises tall guiding my attention through its minor details all the way to the top. Up there a vibrant purple flower beams in life and glow. Its frail beauty moves me as the soft, cold winter breeze threatens to throw it all the way against the ground. Something in me just contorts in sadness with such thought. When you are young all things, living and non-living, capture your attention presenting themselves as if the rarest of rarities. Yet, as one grows into adulthood, such minor things lose all their fascination. A flower is just a flower and nothing more. A flower is just that pretty little thing that we might step on accidentally and feel guilty for mere seconds. But it is just that. A flower.
The world is silent, and the sky is grey. Everyone is locked within the walls of their homes as they watch life happening from within the comfort of their nest. The rain splatters the windows but never their faces. And, here I stand, in the muddy wet grass, bent to my knees observing this frail purple flower. I am alone. That does not upset me the least. As I take in the majestical dances of the nature in front of me, I reminisce on who I was and who I am. Have I changed? This is the question that has been haunting me for the past year. For some reason the hassle, the buzz, the constant moving in and out has come to a dramatic halt. It all appears stable, yet my mind refuses to accept it. With so little happening, I see myself noticing things that I have never noticed before, nor even tried to glance at. Admire. That just makes me think that I have changed. Perhaps, I have grown to be a sad person. Someone that needs to find joy in the smallest of things. For years, my lips naturally curved into a natural smile for hours on end. When I walked past people, I didn’t have to think, ‘Oh boy, I need to smile’, because I was already smiling. And, how could I be so happy by noticing so little. Now, I stop. I let myself be moved. I quit being the sole subject of my attention.
Society has changed. In the small span of my life until now, I feel like a lot has followed a new, different path. Progress might be the word most people prefer to adopt. But I think change is what truly defines what we all are living. As we take five steps forwards, we take another ten backwards. Humanity enjoys challenging the odds. Pushing it as much as it can, until it all comes down to an endless abyss of complex and hardly solvable, entangled problems. Human relationships have become hard to manage. Physical contact almost an intangible concept. The warmth, the comfort in someone else’s unknown arms…The world has changed, and it has changed me. As the sun makes its way from in between the dark dense clouds, it starts spreading its warmth along all living things. My rosy, numb cheeks begin to respond to the soft touch of my fingers. The flower in front of me rises tall, renouncing the bending posture the wind from before obliged it to have. My lips curve into a rare honest smile. My eyes glow in wonder. A sigh escapes from my lips. This is happiness.