Petals of Thought (1,000 words)
Triantafyllo was tucked tight in a fetal position. His knees were at his chest, his elbows tight at his sides and his hands covered his face, which was buried in his knees. Around him was a thin shell that provided him enough room to move, though he never had. The shell kept out the dark dirt that was packed loosely around him.
One morning Triantafyllo began to unfurl. He slowly pushed up at the shell and it gave way with little effort, breaking into several large fragments that he thoughtlessly and gently pushed to the side. There was not much dirt above him.
So that now Triantafyllo was crouched on the ground, hugging his shins. He held his butt just above the ground and his face was still buried in his knees. His toes and the soles of his feet were buried in the cool, soft soil. The air was crisp and he could feel the sun on his back. The sun was skimming across the vast, blue dome above him and as the days passed he slowly began to stand.
So that one day his butt was held a bit higher, and a bit higher the next. The sun was leaping across the vast, blue dome and his knees, imperceptibly and with almost fluid motion, began to extend. The sun was skipping across the sky and his back was straightening, his arms slowly releasing their grips and falling straight at his sides, the sun darting across the sky and his legs slowly bending upwards, his back slowly becoming straight until he stood tall and erect. His chin was still tucked to his chest, and after a few more days that too had risen. His arms began to slide up his sides then, until his hands were near his armpits, and after a few more bounds of the sun his arms were extended, his palms turned up so that he held a permanent sort of unsure, shrugging gesture.
The sun slowed its climb up the sky. Triantafyllo had grown as tall as he ever would and now it was time for him to thicken. His body was still thin and hairless and his hands still needed to grow. He could already feel his toes stretching and growing farther into the cool soil. His options for movement were limited. He could only turn his neck and pivot at his hips, which he did so he could look around.
There were other people all around him. Most of his neighbors had also finished standing, though a few were still rising. He turned at his hips and smiled at everyone and everyone smiled back. Covering the ground were gnomes who never grew more than knee-high. It was rumored that for every person there were thousands of gnomes and it certainly seemed so. Everywhere Triantafyllo looked he saw the green, spired hats they wore. He tried to twist as far as he could to his left, to test his boundaries. He saw a leg, a giant, thick and hairy leg rising straight to the sky. He looked up but could only see its bottom-most branches.
The path the sun took meant that it was always at his back. Triantafyllo could feel the sun on the backs of his legs, his buttocks and his back, his arms and the nape of his neck. He could feel his skin tingling from the warmth of the sun, making his goosebumps rise. His palms burned but it was a pleasing sensation. He twisted as far as he could to his right and strained his neck so he could look up at the sun. After a moment he relaxed.
Triantafyllo could hear laughing. He turned to his left and saw a grasshopper, brightly striped with green and turquoise. The grasshopper was standing on his hind-legs and moving his hands as he talked. He was telling jokes. The people were laughing very hard, bending up and down at their waists. They didn’t have to turn or otherwise move to see the grasshopper because he stood right in front of them, and it was easy for them to watch. What they did do though, was to make sure that as much as they laughed they always held their hands up at their sides, so they could catch what sunlight they needed to survive.
Triantafyllo watched the grasshopper for a little while but he remembered the sun and he turned around so he could see it. He could hear the people laughing, and it would have been much easier for him to watch the grasshopper, but he enjoyed the light he received from the sun. The sun would make him grow, he knew, it would make him strong and wise and he enjoyed the understanding that the sun’s rays seemed to convey to him.
The sun leapt across the vast, blue dome and the weeks passed. Triantafyllo could still hear his neighbors laughing at the grasshopper and his neck had grown sore. But, no matter how sore his neck became, no matter how much effort it took him and despite all that he missed that his neighbors enjoyed, Triantafyllo kept his eyes on the sun.
After some weeks passed Triantafyllo had grown strong and sturdy. It was time for him to blossom. A split appeared down the center of his face, down both sides of his head and down the back of his head. The splits grew wider and his face began to come apart until finally his head folded out in four even sections and a beautiful, full, flesh colored rose blossomed outward as a lush beacon of nature’s accomplishments.
Not long after that his neighbors were ready to blossom as well. They stopped laughing for a moment as their heads cracked apart unevenly and when the four sections flopped open the fleshy, rotten contents spilled forth onto the ground in useless, wet, gray heaps.