The Secret

There was once a flower, a flower growing amongst the mud and stench of a dead valley. The valley had nothing left, no green grasses, no fresh smell of new life. It had been covered by the soot of burning men and horses from many years of war, a carpet of dried, black blood formed the top layer of the soil. Ravages of many decades turned the once beautiful land into a depressive sight.
There was also, once a boy and a girl. They used to play amongst the lush green pastures and streams of the same valley. Hiding in the woods, creating a world of magic only they were part of, away from the concerns of what was happening outside the edges of the valley. The valley was a happy place. The children grew up together, playing with each other, sharing secrets, building their lives and drowning themselves in the happiness of the daily work. Their adult selves discovered each other. Discovered the living existence of the other, the complete dependence on each other and the feeling of holding hands rolling in the hills. The boy became a man and she became a woman. They built a house in the valley and lived their lives in the wonderful drudgery of everyday life. Neither needed anything else in life. Except for a baby, someone to call their own. They tried their hardest but kept failing and it made them sad. Upon frayed hopes they kept the dream of having a child alive.
Until one day, when the king announced the kingdom was going to war, and every man was needed to fight. He had to leave. She begged him to stay but he couldn’t. She cried next to him saying she wouldn’t be able to live without him. He told her a secret again, kissed her forehead and put her off to sleep. That night he didn’t sleep but kept stroking her hair and touching her face since this could be the last time they ever got together. They woke up in the morning and went about their work as usual. Then the horn rang, it rang with the resounding reverberation of death and despair. This made her very sad and she caught the look of desperate pleading in his eyes, but he had to fulfill his duty to the land. The land of their perfect childhood had to be protected from anyone who dared to take it from them.
Before leaving with his small bundle of clothes, he gave her a box, with it, was attached a letter.
“My darling,
It saddens me completely to leave you here, after all these promises we had made to each other. But it is only because I want to keep you away from harm. I have to protect my beloved so that she can live a happy life. This box that I’m leaving you contains something very precious. That is my greatest secret to you. Whenever you feel that I may not return, open the box then. You have to provide the box the most love that you can muster. It will hurt you but you will be happy again. Please don’t forget me.
Always, yours. “
She spent her days growing flowers and trees around their cottage. He wrote to her every 3 months so she knew he was still alive and strong. She prayed as no monk or priest had ever done before, for him to return to her. She kept all his letters next to the box he had given her.
It had been six months since he wrote to her, but she didn’t give up hope. One day, while sitting by the stream, staring at the sky, she heard a small clink from the stream. She put her hand inside the clear water and pulled out a ring. It was the same ring that she had given him to wear as part of their marriage. Here it was, floating on the stream. She noticed a tinge of red in the water but she couldn’t think about anything further. She realized he was gone and it was time to open the box. Her life with him had ceased to exist and the feeling of it was slowly stopping her beating heart. She ran inside and burnt every letter, every belonging of him and collected the ash. She found the box in the far end of their room and slowly opened the lid. Out of it emerged the smallest, most beautiful, orange and green colored flower, that the world could have ever seen. She carefully lifted the box and took it outside to her garden of still surviving plants. In the middle of the rows of gerberas and lilies, she dug a small hole and placed the tiny flower in it. She brought out the ashes of her beloved’s belongings and strew them around the flower. She kissed the fragrant petals of the flower and put his ring next to it. Looking around the valley one last time, she cried. She cried for every memory she had now lost out with him, she cried for the future and she cried for her home.
The wails of the dying men and shrieks of women watching their children being murdered was echoing around the valley. The green of the distant hills slowly turned into a dead grey. The streams dried up and turned black. It was finally the day when all the ash falling from the dead sky settled on the ground. The flower still blossomed. She was proud of their love, the flower being symbolic of their life.
The valley was finally declared to be a dead land that was unable to sustain life. Just the lone flower survived. And she lived in a distant land, with a petal from that flower.

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