Fictional story about letting go of pride to hang on to that one thing you love.
| “The world is full of figs,” my grandmother used to tell me, “but you only need one blossom to change your world. Do you understand?” She would look at me with those thoughtful eyes, “Just one blossom, mi niñeta.”
I think about that now, as I sit on her and grandpa’s back porch steps and look out at the fig tree she planted so many years ago. When Abuelo Jamil first brought her here from Argentina, right after they wed, that was the first thing she did: plant the fig tree.
You see, there are many legends that surround the fig tree, which is known to produce fruit without ever bearing blossoms, but I like the one that she tells best of all: On certain nights of the year, when the moon is highest in the sky, the fig tree will produce one blossom, and one blossom only. Any person who is lucky enough to see this blossom will soon find true love, and be happy the rest of their days.
It seems like sick humor to me now, though.
I thought I had found true love. Three hours ago I would have told you how I was with the man of my dreams, and how I didn’t wish for anything else in the world.
But that was three hours ago.
“One of these days you’ll regret that temper of yours.” Another conversation with my grandmother resurfaces. “Better learn to control it now before it causes you to drive away what you love most.”
“If I really loved something I’d never lose my temper with it!” is what my snotty teenager-self had bantered back with.
I was wrong. Oh, how I was wrong.
For tonight I had used my temper to lash out on what I loved most. I had used my vicious tongue to tear into the man I loved. I couldn’t even remember why I had gotten so angry, but I did remember the sick way that it had felt good to know that I had hurt him, that I had the power to afflict pain on him.
The problem is, once a fire dies out, the ashes left behind don’t keep you warm.
So here I was, sitting on the back porch of a sleeping house, needing the comfort of a strong pair of arms around me, but only wanting those which I had so recently taken up arms against, and feeling more empty than the day I had said goodbye to my grandmother in that damned hospital room.
“Mi abuela,” I whispered, “Please, just give me one more piece of your wisdom. Anything.” I begged.
I heard the summer wind ruffle the leaves of her fig tree, and I felt its cool touch soften the lines of anger that had been etched into my forehead. I breathed deep, and I felt myself become less human, and more a part of the summer night, with every inhale.
I closed my eyes. And just as I opened them the clouds parted, and the summer moon could suddenly be seen in all its glory.
I gasped. For a transformation of the fig tree had occurred. No longer was it the drab greens and browns that I knew it as, it was now coated in a silver veil, like a peasant maiden dressed as a royal bride in her wedding to the prince. But at the very top of the tree something spectacular was happening, and I couldn’t take my eyes from it. The leaves, and their branches, were moving, or dancing, as if in excited anticipation of something to come. Like a child who can’t help but jump and clap in expectation of what is waiting under a Christmas tree. And then, I saw, the movements became organized, and the branches swayed down in unison to reveal what they had hidden within themselves at the center of the tree.
It was a blossom.
It seemed to be made of the moon itself. As if the man in the moon had lost a piece of its heart to that old fig tree, and the tree in turn was letting him have it back. And so it seemed. For the blossom was raised higher and higher until it did not seem a part of the tree at all. Indeed, it seemed to be completely separate from any worldly thing at all, only feeding off the light of the moon as nourishment.
Then the intensity of the moon’s light became stronger and stronger, until it seemed to evaporate the blossom within its very soul.
And the blossom was no more.
The wind blew, and the moon was hidden. The fig tree returned to her former vesture, resignedly waiting for her nightly prince to transform her once again.
I gasped. I made myself breathe. I let myself cry.
My grandmother had spoken. And I knew, then, what she had been trying to tell me all those years.
I quietly stole around the back and skipped lightly over the garden gate, not wanting to alarm Abuelo Jamil with any sudden noise in the night, and I ran to where I had parked my car. I had to get home. I had to do what my stupid pride hadn’t let me do before. I had to apologize and make things right.
Because now I understood. It wasn’t the act of seeing the blossom that transformed your life, it was the act of finding that one person who would transform it for you. That one person who would change your browns and greens to magnificent silver.
As I fell asleep in the arms of my Blossom that night, I sent up a prayer of thanks to my grandmother. Maybe I hadn’t found true love that night, but it didn’t matter, because I had already had it before. But I had kept myself from losing my true love. And because of that, I knew that I would be happy for the rest of my days.