Lonely Buttercups

It was such a beautiful day—such a dazzling, sunlit day. I saw the essence of spring, of growth, of all the tiny moments clumped together in what we call life, and of an understated vitality pulsing from everything in sight.

I saw ducks waddle around and snoop for food in the soft mud. I saw undulating ripples dip onto the shores of a serene blue pond. I saw the invisible wind expertly sculpt a young hill.

I saw the lonely buttercups shimmer in the sun, reflecting its yellow brilliance. I saw them struggle, unabashedly baring their delicate gold petals to the cold, cold wind. Their stalks shivered and swayed with the dancing motion of the viridescent grass, but they were muted, slightly delayed—almost as if their motions belied a painful struggle.

I saw, and as I felt the raw defiance of the buttercups, tears welled in my burning eyes—eyes burning from a sharp, implacable wind. They swam with the yellow of the buttercups and transformed them into blurs of lemony bitterness. But these were selfish tears: not tears for the beauty of the buttercups’ struggle, but unbidden, personal tears that soured the sweetness of the moment. They were squeezed unwillingly from a locked compartment deep within me, and they trembled, uncertain and stale, before the lively wind.

And I felt dry, racking sobs. And I felt spastic shudders ripple through me. And between the glimmers of each salty tear, I felt the lonely buttercups shudder with me, spewing empathy and life to fill voids I didn’t know had existed. The lonely buttercups seemed to say, “You, who have not truly lived, here, have some of our life. We are so insignificant, so useless. Have some of our life. We do not need it as much as you do.”

And I took it—greedily. I stared at the lonely buttercups and willed myself to steal some of their blithe radiance, as if by taking their love I could make up for the negligence I had inflicted upon those I love. I burglarized from them with a sick sense of glee, not knowing that what I took they freely gave, not knowing that they replenished their stocks of luster at a rate commensurate with my own thievery.

And with the sudden realization that I was again taking unrequited love, my tears redoubled and my sobs grew more irregular. And I buried my head in soft cotton sleeves, and I buried everything in the realization that this was what I had always strived for: a sunny day amidst a field of buttercups next to a duck pond. And as I wallowed in self-pity, I didn’t notice the footsteps marching rapidly toward me, footsteps belonging to a sister so naïve yet so wise.

She pulled me to my feet, murmured an “I love you,” and dragged me off in a swift movement that brooked no disagreement. Then, with a momentary pause—as if she heard my mind—she plucked a lonely buttercup and pressed it into my hand.