Satori’s Blessings

A Fantasy Short Story by James Rumpel

Satori’s Blessings

by James Rumpel

 

When a village is on the edge of extinction due to an unknown illness, a goddess sends aid to a group of children in the form of magical flowers. Will they be able to figure out how to use them in time?
 
James Rumpel is a retired high school math teacher who enjoys spending some of his time trying to turn a few of the odd ideas circling his brain into actual stories. He has loved fantasy and science fiction his whole life and writes for his own entertainment but is ecstatic when other’s get a chance to read and, hopefully, enjoy his stories.
 

“Come on. Hurry,” shouted Adam.

Three children sprinted toward the meadow. Laughter filled the air, a pleasant change from the gloom which seemed to hang like a burial cloth over their village.

“Faster,” added Lumus, “maybe she’ll give up and leave us alone.”

“We could let her play with us,” said Camille. “She’s probably lonely.”

The two boys stopped and waited for Camille to reach their position.

“Of course, she’s lonely,” said Adam, between deep breaths, “she’s stupid and strange. She doesn’t even talk.”

“You can play with her if you want,” chimed in Lumus, “but we’re not going to. You decide, her or us.”

Without another word, the two boys renewed their race.

Camille looked back to see Rose struggling to catch up. The young girl wore a simple brown dress that looked like a potato sack. Even at this distance, Camille could tell her hair was matted and dirty.

The boys ran on, laughing. Camille shrugged. “Last one to the giant oak is a rotten fish.”

***

“Tag. You’re it.”

Instead of trying to return the tag, Adam stood motionless, looking over Lumus’s shoulder. Lumus turned to see what had grabbed Adam’s attention. He too froze.

Camille peeked out from, behind a tree wondering why the two boys were mesmerized.

A beautiful woman, the most beautiful anyone could ever imagine, stood before them. She was clothed in a gown of the purest white. Long, golden hair framed an angelic face. A ribbon of flowers, mostly daffodils and daisies, circled her head.

The woman smiled and the children couldn’t help but smile back.

“It is so wonderful to have so many children playing in my meadow,” said the woman. “I know joy is rare in your village at this time. I wish to help.”

Camille was the first to speak. “Are you Satori?”

“Yes, my child.”

The boys dropped to their knees.

“There is no need for that,” said the goddess. “Please stand. I only wish to give each of you a gift.” She extended her hand toward Adam and a magnificent, blue flower appeared. “Take this, it is my blessing. Your village needs it. Use it well.”

Adam took the flower and held it carefully with two hands.

Satori floated to Lumus and Camille, handing them identical flowers.

“What are we supposed to do with them?” asked Camille.

“My blessings can do much good. They are very powerful. There are people in your village who need them. If you freely give my blessing to someone, they will be aided.”

“But there are only three of us,” said Adam. “There are lots more that need help.”

“Then you must be wise,” replied Satori. Without another word, the goddess of the meadow transformed into thousands of ivory-hewed butterflies. They scattered in every direction.

“What should we do?” asked Lumus, still holding his flower as if it would fall to pieces with the slightest disturbance.

“We must take them to the Elder. She’ll know what to do,” suggested Camille.

Playtime forgotten; the three children headed back to the village with their wondrous gifts.

***

“Are you certain it was Satori?” asked the Elder. “I have no time for pranks. There are many sick I need to attend to.” A group of about twenty adults surrounded the children as they met with the old woman.

“It had to be,” said Camille, still shaking at the thought. “She appeared out of nowhere and changed into a million butterflies when she left.”

“Tell me again what she said about the flowers.”

“They are her blessing,” answered Adam. “If we freely give it to someone, that person will be blessed.”

“That has to mean that the flowers will cure the illness,” said Adam’s father, Dorian. “Give me one. I will take it to Mariah and see if it works on her.”

“Not so fast,” shouted another villager. “Why should your wife be healed? There are many sick who need the blessing.”

“Wait,” called the Elder, “we mustn’t be hasty about this.”

“We can’t waste time,” shouted Dorian. “We have no idea how much longer the sick will live. The first to take ill was over a week ago. They haven’t eaten or drank anything since they fell into never-ending sleep.”

“But we only have three blessings,” said the Elder. She turned the children. “Was there anyone else with you in the meadow?”

“Rose might have been,” answered Camille. “She was following us, but we didn’t see her when we were playing.”

“Perhaps she received a flower too.” The Elder turned to one of the women in the crowd. “Go find Rose. She is probably sitting by her parents’ beds. She stays by their sides much of the time.”

“I’m sure she didn’t get one,” said Lumus.

“Yeah, and if she did, she’s so stupid she probably ate it or ripped it to pieces,” added Adam.

“Well, I’m not waiting,” announced Dorian, stepping toward Adam. “My son was chosen to receive a blessing and I know it’s for Mariah.” He snatched the flower from Adam’s grasp.

The second Dorian grabbed the flower, it wilted. He stared at the lifeless brown husk in his hand.

“You fool!” shouted the Elder. “What have you done? The blessing must be freely given. Everyone leave me and the children alone. Go back to your homes. Care for your ill. I’ll let you know what we will do with the blessings once I decide.”

The mumbling crowd disbanded. A few villagers approached the Elder with questions or suggestions but her dagger-like stare stopped them in their tracks. Dorian walked away, head bowed, sobbing.

***

Rose stared intently at her dirt covered hands.

“Rose,” began the Elder, bending down to try and look the child in the eyes, “did you meet a woman in the meadow this morning?”

After a moment, Rose gave an almost imperceptible nod.

“Did she give you a flower?”

Another nod.

“Do you have it?”

Rose shook her head.

“Did you give it to your parents?”

Again, no.

“Where is it? What did you do with it?”

Rose didn’t response.

The Elder started to grab Rose by the shoulder but held back. “We need that flower.”

Rose shivered. Her only response was a tear that ran down her cheek.

“I told you she was stupid,” said Adam. “She lost it or something. Her and her family are just dumb farmers.”

The Elder did not refrain from grabbing Adam, pinching his arms against his sides. “That is enough. Everyone in this village is important. I could blame you for losing your flower. You will not talk that way about anyone. Do you understand?”

Adam broke free from her grip and took off running toward his home.

Lumus began to follow his friend.

“No, leave him,” ordered the Elder. “He needs time to think about everything that’s happened. I shouldn’t have yelled at him. He’s worried about his mother. We’re all worried.”

“Madam Elder,” interrupted Camille. “I think my flower is beginning to wilt. There are small brown spots around the edges.”

Lumus inspected his plant. “Mine, too.”

The Elder shook her head. “We don’t have much time. Camille, take Rose to her house and look for her flower. Lumus, go sound the bell. Get everyone back here; we need everyone to meet as soon as possible.”

The children set out as directed.

“And be careful with your flowers,” added the Elder.

***

The Elder addressed the village. The crowd was much smaller than she had expected. Over half of the nearly two hundred villagers had already taken ill.

“I have decided. The blessings will go to Jasmine and Seth. They have the most knowledge of herbs and medicine. Maybe they can help find a cure. Camille, are you willing to give your flower to Jasmine?”

“Yes, Madam Elder.”

“Lumus will give his blessing to Seth if Camille’s flower works.”

The old woman and young girl walked to a large building adjacent to the town square. The building usually served as a meeting hall. There were no wedding dances or feasts there on this day. The entire building was packed with unconscious patients. The number of ill had outgrown this makeshift triage and more recent victims were being cared for in their homes but Jasmine was here.

Having been one of the first to take ill, Jasmine lay on a cot in the back of the hall. The Elder was struck by how pale and thin the woman looked. The subtle movement of her chest was almost undetectable.

“Here, I want you to have this,” said Camille as she placed Satori’s blessing in Jasmine’s cold hands.

A golden glow emanated from the flower. It expanded until Jasmine was enveloped by its warmth. Camille gasped. The crowd, which had gathered at the door, looked on in amazement.

Then the light was gone.

“Where am I?” called a weak voice from the bed. “What happened?”

The Elder smiled as she took Jasmine’s hand. “We have much to tell you and much to do.”

***

Two days later, Adam sat on a stump near the village square. A torrent of tears rolling down his face.

“I’m sorry,” said Jasmine as she stood over him. “Your father was hit by the illness this morning. We have laid him in your house, by your mother. We’re working on a medicine that might help.”

Adam ignored her.

“I’ll send someone to come and take you to them. I have work to do.”

Jasmine touched Adam on the shoulder before walking away.

The boy remained seated; head buried in his hands. The other children had all gone to the meadow, as they did every day, hoping for another visit from Satori.

When he opened his eyes, he saw a pair of skinny legs ending in small, worn shoes before him.

“Oh, it’s you,” was all he said.

Rose just stared, a large blotch of mud on her cheek.

“I’m sorry,” said Adam, “I shouldn’t have picked on you. You’re just worried about your parents, the same way I am about mine.” He sniffled loudly. “I’m being punished for being mean, I know it. But you don’t deserve to lose your parents. I’m so sorry.”

Rose reached out to take Adam’s hand and tried to pull him to his feet.

He resisted for a second but then gave in.

“What do you want?” he asked.

She started to lead him toward the outskirts of the village, toward her home.

“Where are you taking me?”

They stopped in front of Rose’s house. She pointed at a wooden bucket filled with water.

“What about it?”

She pointed again.

Adam picked up the pail and Rose began pulling him toward the woods.

The narrow path quickly opened into a garden plot. A few rows of vegetables, in much need of weeding, grew nearby.

Rose pulled Adam past the crops to the far end of the garden.

“If you want me to water the plants, I . . .”

Adam froze.

In the middle of a roughly hoed circle grew a large, healthy plant. Dozens of stems wound around a central stalk. Each stem ended in a blue blossom.

Rose picked up a copper ladle and dipped it in Adam’s pail. She took the water and dumped it on the plant. The moment the water touched the plant, four or five new stems emerged from the stalk and sprouted flowers.

Adam dropped the bucket, not caring about the water that sloshed onto his shoes. He took a quick step towards the village and stopped. Turning back to Rose, he bent over and gave her a warm embrace.

“Thank you,” he shouted as he took off to tell the village that Rose had saved them all.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


eight + 15 =

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: