- a fantasy story by Reya Panchmatia (11 years old)
illustrated by Yuanhui Chen
The blue lotus floated just above Aria’s cupped palms, rotating gently and emitting a soft, pulsating blue light as blue and purple sparkles drifted off the delicate azure petals. The petals had taken on the texture and look of a flower, in contrast to the shiny glaze that had been present just moments before.
Aria was stunned.
What she had assumed to be a small clay sculpture her mother had left behind for Aria was clearly more than it had appeared to be a few seconds ago, as it sat on Aria’s bookshelf next to a small, prickly potted cactus, the purple and blue glaze glinting in the sun.
All of a sudden, she was engulfed in the light emitting from the flower. She coughed as some of the glitter floating around her entered her nose. All she could see was a blinding white light as she felt the sensation of being pulled forward. That was, until the light seemed to extinguish and Aria found herself floating above rows upon rows of bright, jewel-coloured flowers, all emanating the same pulsing glow that her blue lotus had.
There were lilies, roses, daffodils, daisies and countless other flowers Aria could not identify. The flowers were of every shape and colour she could imagine - five-petalled, three-petalled, flower-clusters, pink, yellow, purple, orange, turquoise, white and countless others. But, she noticed that there wasn’t a single blue flower.
Before she could admire the seemingly endless, breathtakingly beautiful stretch of flowers in front of her (or ponder why there were no blue flowers,) she felt herself being pulled forward once again, watching the flowers below her disappear, turning into a colourful blur.
Aria had no idea how long she had been moving forward through the vast room, when once again, she felt herself coming to a stop just outside a set of huge oak doors.
Without warning, the doors swung open, revealing a room. There were twelve pedestals surrounding the room, and each held a blue flower - a lily, a rose, a tulip, an iris, an orchid, a peony, a hydrangea, a cherry blossom, a poppy, a marigold, and a sunflower - each rotating a few centimetres above the pedestal. The last pedestal was left empty.
Aria had been so focused on the pedestals around the room that she did not notice the presence of a woman at the centre of the room.
She towered over Aria, her smooth almond-coloured skin, jet black hair pulled into a knot at the base of her head and her crimson, ruby red lips gave her a commanding, slightly menacing look. She was dressed in a long gown that touched the floor, the silvery fabric appearing to be multicoloured, due to the reflections.
Most magnificent of all, above her head floated a headpiece that resembled an adorned halo. It was a simple golden ring with a crocus the same colour as her dress floating in the centre. Smaller versions of that flower ringed the golden hoop as petals appearing seemingly out of nowhere cascaded downwards, fading into nothingness around a foot above the polished hardwood floor.
When she spoke, her voice was breathy with a hint of an accent Aria couldn’t place.
“Welcome, Aria, to the Association of the Blue Flowers. I am Celeste, the head of the association.”
The woman went on to explain, “When you were coming here, you would have noticed the flowers outside. Well, a small percentage of the world’s population was once blessed with these flowers. These people could subconsciously brighten others’ day in small little ways, and each different colour of flower has its own slightly different power. But those with blue flowers,” she spoke, gesturing at the gleaming white marble pedestals behind her, “can make people happier in larger ways. You will get to meet the rest of the holders someday.
One of the blue flower holders is selected to be in charge of the whole association. Everytime the head dies or retires, another blue flower holder will be selected to take his or her place and a brand new blue flower holder will be chosen.
Blue flower holders are selected for a mission to help those who need it. A mission may take a few hours or almost a decade. The difficulty of the missions will increase as you spend more time as a blue flower holder.
Once you complete the mission, the one you helped will receive their own flower. Our goal is to make sure as many people as possible get their flower. As of now, only around three thousand people have gotten their flowers, but our goal is to increase that number. Well, any questions?”
Aria was so stunned that could barely speak. Her brain was struggling to absorb all the information. She was supposed to help people?
As she noticed the woman staring at her, under bated breath she managed to stammer a quiet “no.”
She smiled. “Very well then. I will brief you about your first mission now, and you can head off right afterwards. Follow me,” she said as she spun around on one glittery heel and headed towards a small door nestled in between the floor-to-ceiling vibrantly coloured stained glass windows.
Aria followed her inside to an office. The woman gestured for her to sit on a seat facing the desk as she sat on a white leather office chair behind the desk. As Aria perched on the leather seat, a large television screen on the wall turned on, displaying a girl with pale, milky white skin and long wavy dark hair brushing against her back that was pushed back from her face by her long, thin hands.
“This is Amaya. Before you start your mission, you should know that your flower is your source of power. During a mission, if you are ever stuck, it can guide you. Now, follow me,” she spoke, leading Aria over to a pair of deep, velvety maroon curtains that were drawn shut. She opened them, revealing the same endless white room that had brought Aria here.
“Just step into it, it will bring you to Amaya,” Celeste instructed.
Gingerly, Aria stepped inside and was immediately whisked forward, moving for quite some time until, at last she came to a stop right outside an arched doorway. There was a small sign made of bamboo wood with Amaya’s name carved into it.
Flower type: undetermined
Aria peered through the doorway, but she could see nothing but darkness. Slightly hesitant, she took a step forward and found herself in a small, slightly cramped bedroom.
One wall was painted a vibrant shade of bubblegum pink, with a white desk, bookshelf and bed pushed against the rest. The walls were plastered with drawings and photos of a young girl, probably Amaya.
Aria looked up, and caught a glance of her reflection in the mirror. She almost screamed out loud when she noticed that her skin and hair had turned a shade of bright blue and she had shrunk down to the size of a person’s palm.
She turned her attention to the girl perched on the bed, her eyes almost hidden by her long bangs. She was dressed in a brightly coloured, loose tie-dye T-shirt and black leggings. Aria recognised the girl as Amaya. Amaya did not seem to have noticed her, otherwise she would no doubt be screaming for help and running away from the strange, blue humanoid creature standing in her room.
Aria moved towards Amara slowly, trying not to startle her. When she finally decided to speak to her, Amaya ignored her as if Aria wasn’t even in the room. Aria climbed onto the bed using a nearby chair and bookshelf, hoisting herself onto a pillow and tapping Amaya’s arm to try and get her attention.
Aria watched, confused, as her tiny blue arm passed through Amaya’s larger, pale hand as though it was made of mist. She clearly could not touch or speak to Amaya. Then how was she supposed to help her?
Suddenly, Aria noticed something out of the corner of her eye. Sitting on top of an armchair in a corner of the room was her flower, back in sculpture form but shrunk down so that Aria’s now tiny arms could carry them.
Aria hurried towards the sculpture as fast as her miniscule legs could carry her, remembering what Celeste had said about the flower being her power source. As soon as it was lifted off the armchair it transformed into the delicate, glittering lotus flower once again.
It floated towards Aria’s cupped palms, staying there as Aria climbed off the armchair and once again made her way towards Amaya.
Aria had no idea what she was doing, but she sat down next to Amaya nonetheless, trying to figure out the problem, and how she was supposed to help her.
As it got closer to Amaya, the blue glow seemed to strengthen. It washed over Amaya, bathing her in the soft blue light.
A few seconds later, it vanished, as though it had never been there. Amaya looked up, and for the first time, seemed to notice Aria.
Amaya yelped, scrambling to get off the bed and almost falling off in the process.
“W..w..what’s that?” Amaya whispered to herself, “and…who’s this?” she said as she bent over to take a closer look at Aria.
“I’ve come to help you, Amaya,” Aria spoke, trying her best to sound sure of what she was doing. She was like a swan in water, gracefully swimming above water, but pedalling frantically below. “Help me?” Amaya queried, eyebrows furrowed. “Yes, help you!” Aria answered, still unsure what it was that she was here to help with. “You…you…mean you know about my troubles?” Amaya answered, as she sat the cute little doll-like Aria down on her little sofa. She poured some imaginary tea from her toy teapot for her new-found friend, whom she hoped was not imaginary. Now Amaya was a little girl, about nine years of age, where little fairies coming to life was still believable for her.
After a pregnanted pause, Amaya said with tears streaming down her cheeks, “It’s Martha, this girl in my class.” Amaya sobbed as she hugged Aria and cradled her in her arms like a baby doll. With tears still in her eyes, she recounted how Martha, one of her classmates had started sending her mean messages online.
Martha was the kind of girl who was a perfect little angel around every adult around her. She never shouted or misbehaved, and always followed others’ instructions to the tee. But when their backs were turned she transformed into a demon, with her posse of friends (though minions was a better word), Lia and Jennie.
Aria tried to soothe Amaya down, patting her back gently with her minute blue hand. “Don’t listen to what she says, Martha is just trying to make you unhappy,” she told Amaya.
As Aria continued to speak, Amaya's sniffling slowly reduced, coming to a halt after a while. Aria’s vision seemed to shimmer, going away so fast that she almost felt like she had imagined it. Aria could see the sadness seeping out of Amaya, dark and dense as a cloud of smoke. The empty space was being filled with a bright yellow happiness, almost radiating joy and positivity.
Amaya was engulfed in a bright yellow light, disappearing a second after.
Amaya was still sitting cross-legged on the bed but in front of her was a glowing yellow peony, shimmering gold and yellow sparkles floating around it.
Amaya looked slightly confused but she was enthralled, staring at the flower, eyes full of wonder and excitement.
Aria was about to explain everything when she felt the same tugging sensation. Urgently, she whispered, “I have to go now Amaya. But I will see you again. Someone will help explain what this flower does.”
Before another word could escape her lips, she was back outside the door, the words on the sign having changed.
Flower type: yellow, camellia
Aria smiled, glad she was able to help someone.