The Crimson Blush Assignment

Fiction By Jill Levine Tyler // 7/5/2018

The Crimson Blush Assignment

Mrs. Grass stared sternly at her class, her thick glasses giving her the guise of a bug. She was giving a rather important lecture about plants, and very few of her wide variety of students were paying attention. Speckle Fern, a Land Walker, was starring at his extremely large and dirty feet. Lily Waterdancer, a Lakien, was playing with her water container by making miniature tornadoes inside. Droplet Stratus, who was a Sky Master, was gazing dreamily at the wall. Like all Sky Masters, she rested on a white, fluffy cloud that floated a few feet off the ground. The more glossy-eyed she became, the closer her cloud brought her to the ceiling.
Irritated, Mrs. Grass took a quick glance at Smallfoot Berry, one of the few students actually paying attention. He sat straight, his gaze resting on the teacher, and his pencil and paper in hand for notes. She was proud of him, taking the fact that only recently he was the worst in the class.
She was not sure if they realized it, but each of her students provided something important to plants. The Land Walkers, with their heavy and large feet crushed the ground to make is soft. (She was rather proud of this because she was also a Land Walker). Both the Sky Masters and Lakiens provided water, and in some cases, nutrients. There were also Seasiders who kept the waves at bay, but she did not have any Seasiders in her class. The school was too far inland.
“Students.” She said, her sharp voicing ringing through the class room. “You have an assignment due in about two weeks.” She was pleased to see Droplet sink lower.
“Oh no.” Droplet muttered, dramatically flopping on her cloud.
“By now you should have found partners or formed a group for this experiment. Each group will choose a specific plant. I have a variety of seeds you can choose from. You will work together to help the plant grow. After the experiment, you will turn in a paper describing what you did, what worked, and what did not work. Whoever has the healthiest plant…” She paused as she noticed Droplet’s cloud floating up again. “Whoever has the healthiest plant…” She repeated, irritation coloring her voice. Droplet blinked and focused her cloud to go lower. “Or the most well-written paper, will be excused from the final exam.”
“What!” All her students perked up, and sadly that included Droplet, who was so surprised she forgot to focus on staying near the ground.

“I was surprised you didn’t break the ceiling.” Speckle laughed as he stared up at Droplet after class, his green eyes gleaming with mischief. Her head was wrapped in a white gauze that matched her cloud but clashed with her Raven black hair and sun kissed skin.
“I was just surprised by that announcement.” She said.
“We could tell.” Lily came trotting after them. She flipped her bluish-tinted hair out of the way, revealing her equally blue eyes. It was a common trait for Lakiens, but her sapphire eyes tended to sparkle much brighter than others. “We are going to have the best plant.” She announced.
“Now who’s we?” Droplet asked.
“Isn’t it obvious? You, me, Speck…and Smalls.”
“What?” Speckle shook his head and tussled his brown hair (a habit he developed after he heard messy hair made him look attractive). “Not Smalls. Remember what happened last time? He screwed us up horribly. He never showed up to our meetings and never listened. It was his fault we flunked that last assignment.”
“You weren’t so good yourself.” Droplet pointed out. “You were the one that stayed up late the night before watching the mushroom dance and not finishing your part of the paper like your promised.”
“I would have if you had not told me when the mushroom dance was going to be. You went too, remember?”
“You should had it done before.”
“Oh will you stop!” Lily glared at the two. “This will not help. We can do this if we work together. Smalls has done a lot better lately. I hear he’s becoming the top of the class.”
“Really?” Speckle raised his eyebrows skeptically.
“Really.” Droplet agreed. “You should see his notes.”
“You read his notes?” Lily asked.
“I see everybody’s notes, including your lack of them.”
Lily scowled, and changed the subject. “I went ahead and chose our seed, the Crimson Blush.”
“Oh come on!” Speckle glared at her. “There you go, taking charge again! You always take charge and we end up doing things your way. Did you even think about asking us? That is one of the hardest plants to take care of!”
Droplet moaned. “This is not going to work.”
“It will work!” Smalls stepped out from the trees and approached them. He was a Land Walker, but had somehow missed out on the huge feet trait, earning him the name Smallfoot, or Smalls. He was tall, rather lean, slightly blonde and bluish hair, and brown eyes. He was considered strange, but Droplet’s face brightened when she saw him.
“Hi, Smalls.” She smiled.
“I think you’re the high one, Droplet.” She rolled her eyes at his bad joke.
“What do you mean you think it’ll work?” Speckle asked, crossing his arms.
“We all made mistakes last time. We procrastinated, waited till the last moment to do what we needed to do. This time, let’s change that. Let’s organize. We have two weeks, and the Crimson Blush takes exactly two weeks to bloom. Though it’s the hardest, it’s also the best. If it blooms by the time the assignment is due, we have it in the bag.”
“How are we going to organize?” Droplet asked. “This isn’t exactly a good time for me to have a difficult plant, since I have family plans.”
“We can work around them. There are also going to be moments when we need to decide which activity is more important.”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“Now you’re taking charge?” Speckle frowned at him. Lily shifted uncomfortably. However, she had a feeling Smalls might be a better candidate for leading the group.
Smalls looked down at his feet for a moment, then met Speckle’s gaze. “I don’t want to take charge, but I do want to help lead and motivate. I know I didn’t really help last time, but now…I’ve had help from a friend and I think I’ve changed. I really want to show you what I’ve learned, but we need to work together. We can do this.”
“I think we can.” Droplet gave a mock salute. “Lead the way, Smalls.”
“I think so too.” Lily agreed.
Speckle’s countenance was still fallen, but he shrugged uncaringly. “Yeah, all right. Let’s do this.”
The next few hours of that day was spent studying the Crimson Blush. As Speckle had pointed out, it was a very difficult plant to take care of. The seed had to be planted in a clear glass vase, five inches of lake water, ten inches of fertilized dirt, and one layer of crushed red stones. For the first few days, the seed had to be switched from being buried in the dirt to soaking in the water every few hours (which meant Lily would have to levitate the water over the dirt). After that, it had to sit in pure sunlight for two hours, then buried within fifteen minutes, next to a Wandering Willow Tree. (As the name implies, they tend to wander. To bribe them to stay, Droplet and Speckle agreed to provide a continuous amount of rain and nutrients from the dirt and red stones). It had to stay there for exactly five days. On the fifth day and fifth hour, it had to be struck by lightning to free the plant from the shell. Then simultaneously, it had to have sun, lake water, and sprinkled with crushed red stones every seven hours. If all went well, they would have a beautiful flower by the end of the second week.
To keep track of what they were doing, they each made a calendar and planned who would have the flower and when, what times they would complete each stage, and the day when the flower should bloom.
When the time came for the Wandering Willow, Speckle complained that the Crimson Blush was too difficult. “You should have chosen an easier flower, Lily.” He moaned as they prepared to bury the seed. “There is no way we are going to pass this.”
“If we believe that then it will really be true.” Smalls stated. He paused. “It is a heavy load, and we probably shouldn’t take on so much next time, but we are doing all right. Imagine how pleased Mrs. Grass will be when she sees it.”
“Imagine her telling us we don’t have to do the final exam.” Lily said dreamily. “Or better yet, no final exams for the rest of our lives.”
“Final exam, yes.” Droplet stated as she prepared to provide rain from her cloud. “For the rest of our lives…no.” She furrowed her brows as she focused. Her face turned bright red, as if she was angry, and her cloud changed to a dull gray.
“No lightning yet.” Smalls said as he stared at his notes. “At least, keep it away from the seed.”
“Right.” She spread out her arms over the cloud like she was giving it a hug, and a study flow of rain appeared. The Wandering Willow creaked and groaned in appreciation. After she finished, she glanced at Speckle who was gazing moodily at the Mushroom Forest.
“Speckle, you want to call up the soil.”
“Smalls can do that.”
“But you were the one that agreed to…”
“I can do it.” Smalls knelt the the ground and made circular motions with his finger in dirt like it was water. Almost instantly, it began to change from a dusty gray to a rich brown. “You can crush the red stones later.” He paused. “Actually, that would probably work better. Red stones are a bit of a challenge for me.”
“How were you going to do that anyway?” Lily asked.
“Uh, I was actually going to try to roll one of the boulders over them.”
“You’re a Land Walker too, aren’t you?” Speckles sneered. “I think it would be shameful to have to use a tool to do something you were supposed to be born for.”
Smalls cringed slightly, but before he could speak, a bolt of lightning struck the ground fairly close to where Speckles was standing.
“Hey!” Speckles jumped a few feet in the air. The ground shuddered beneath him as he landed. “What’s the big idea?”
“Sorry.” Droplet took in a deep breath, and her cloud lightened from black to gray. “Lost control there. Just make sure you crush the stones tonight.”
“Fine, whatever.”

Despite the lightning bolt, he almost forgot to do it. He almost decided he did not care. The next mushroom dance was in fact that night, and just as the moon reached its zenith, that was where he was heading. His huge feet thumped on the ground as he made his way through the forest. He knew Smalls was probably fast asleep somewhere; Droplet was undoubtedly snoozing in the sky, and Lily was probably under the Wilder Lake with the her parents. No one would see him going there. Besides, crushing rocks was a tedious project (which made him regret letting Smalls call up the soil). It would not matter if he missed one thing. They have done everything right so far.
He paused when he caught sight of the Wandering Willow. It was still stationed in its place, but its creaking and swaying revealed that it was becoming bored. “Yeah, I know how you feel.” He muttered. He watched for a few minutes. “I’m going to be late for the mushroom dance.” He was about to walk on when he froze in sudden horror. The Willow was spreading out its roots and pushing itself off the ground. “No! No, no! You aren’t supposed to leave yet. Just four more days!” He ran over and tried to press its roots back down. “Stay! I will crush the stones! Just don’t leave!” The Willow groaned and knocked him over. “Wait!” He traced his finger in the dirt as Smalls had done before. The Willow paused, then with a loud creak that almost sounded like a sigh, it sank back down.
“Good, I will get the stones.” He moaned when he realized that meant he would miss the mushroom dance. “Whatever!” He yelled at himself. “This is more important!” He raced towards the Wilder Lake bank where he knew a good amount of stones were waiting. “Hope the seed survived.”
Four days later, the group regathered around the Willow and dug up the seed. At the fifth hour, Droplet struck it with lightning, and nothing happened. Her face turned pale. “Uh oh, did I miscalculate the time?”
“No, no that was right.” Lily said. She stared at the seed, hoping the shell would suddenly break and the plant would sprout. Fifteen seconds passed, and it remained dormant as a rock. “I don’t understand. What did we do?”
“I have confession to make.” Speckle said, staring at his feet. “I was little late in crushing the stones. The Willow had already started moving.” He glanced up, and saw the three horrified faces looking back at him. Lily looked like she was close to tears. “I’m sorry.” He mumbled. “Guess you were right, Smalls. If you really think you are going to fail, than you have absolutely know chance in passing.”
For the longest time, nobody said anything. Finally, Smalls said. “It’s okay, Speckle.” He looked at the others. “This, I think, will change things a bit. We can still try to make it grow, but I don’t think there is a strong likelihood it will.”
“We really are going to fail.” Lily moaned.
“We may not necessarily be excused from the final exam, but I don’t think that means we are going to fail.” Droplet stated, lowering her cloud. “Remember the other part to the other assignment. We have to write a paper about what we did, and it includes what did not work.”
Speckle perked up. “I can write that, since it was my fault.”
“It was my fault too.” Lily stated miserably. “I picked too hard of a plant.”
“We both can write it.” He said excitedly. “I can meet you over by Wilder Lake, and we can work on it together.”
She looked at him, and nodded. “I think that’s a good idea.”
“Droplet and I will continue working on the seed.” Smalls said. “Maybe we still have a chance.”
“I hope so.” Droplet muttered. “Do you think I should try striking it one more time?”
“No, once is all we need. Any more can harm the plant.”
“Then what are we going to do?”
Smalls hesitated. “It will grow. Droplet, meet me here tomorrow, and I promise you there will be a plant.”
“How are going to do that?”
“Leave that to me.”

On the day of the assignment, Mrs. Grass’s classroom seemed almost filled to the brim with with exotic looking plants and excited (in some cases jittery) students. Each group surrounded their plants, some with the most triumphant looks on their faces. Indeed, some of the plants were truly amazing. One was a Climbing Vine, and it appeared to be a good eight feet tall. However, she was most curios about the Crimson Blush. Only one group had taken that seed, and she felt bad about not giving Lily a fair warning about its difficulty.
She saw Lily, Droplet, Speckles, and Smalls congregate together around a small pot. Her heart fell to her stomach as she glanced down at the pot. There was a plant there, but it appeared to be sick. The green leaves were curled and cracked, and no bloom was visible. “It’s a pity.” She muttered. A little louder, she asked, “Are any of you ready to present your plants and your papers?”
She heard a few groans as a few student realized they forgot to write the papers. Speckle, however, after whispering to his group, raised his hand. “We’re ready, Mrs. Grass.”
She nodded and gave what she hoped was a reassuring smile. One by one they filed across the room till they were standing in front of the class. Smalls head was held high, Speckle’s lowered as if in shame. Lily played with the edges of her paper nervously. Droplet lowered the plant to the desk, then took her place next to Smalls, or she thought it was next to him. Smalls patted her cloud as he stared up at her. “Go lower?” He asked.
Lily pulled out her folder and withdrew the paper, then laid it on their teacher’s desk. She addressed the class, “For our plant, I had chosen the Crimson Blush. Unlike many of the flowers in our land, it is one that requires special attention, and a little gift from each of us.” She proceeded to describe the tedious schedule. Many of their fellow students snickered and made snide remarks about it’s ridiculousness.
Smalls stepped forward next. “Throughout this project, we had discussions about time and how to best use it. To do this, we discovered each of us has to make a decision of what was more important, in other words, what deserves our time.”
“Some examples,” Droplet added, “include time for family, work, school...and leisure. Each of these things hold a significant amount of importance in our lives, and therefore requires time. However, there are moments...or days, when one takes priority over the others. When we decide to give our time to something that does not require or deserve it, we face unpleasant consequences.”
“Leisure over a promise is the perfect example.” Speckle stated, lifting his head while coming forward. “When one makes a promise, but decides pleasure takes a higher priority, the results could include hurt feelings, damaged friendships, and failed assignments.” He gestured to the shriveled flower. “As a result of my choice to attend the mushroom dance and not complete my task, not only am I facing the consequences, but my friends are as well.” He lowered his head.
“But that being said.” Smalls came up and placed his hand on his shoulder. “There was a lesson learned, wasn’t there?”
“I’ll say.” Droplet agreed. “Choose your time wisely.”
“Don’t do something that takes too much of your time.” Lily added.
“And keep your promises.” Speckles finished. “Thank you.”
A scattered applause went through the room. “Well done, all of you.” Mrs. Grass said. “You may take your seats. I will say, though your plant has not bloomed, you were not unsuccessful. I am curious to see what you did to actually make it grow.”
A few hours later, the class fumbled out of the school. As soon as the the room was empty, Mrs. Grass busied herself by organizing the numerous plants and papers she would grade. Hoping no one was watching, she withdrew the Crimson Blush document and placed it on top. She was very curious indeed, and could not wait to find out how they managed to make it grow, as they skipped that part in their presentation. She placed the plant on her desk, took her seat, and began reading.
There was no description at all in how it grew. It was apparent that Lily and Speckle were the only ones who wrote the paper, and Droplet and Smalls who took care of the plant after it failed. The only explanation Smalls had given them was that they had done everything else right, and as a result it did grow but was a little late. However, she knew the Crimson Blush. If it did not grow after it was struck, it would not grow at all. How did they manage it?
There was one explanation she hated to think of. They found another plant and potted it. But the Crimson Blush was rare; it was extremely difficult to find. It was highly unlikely they would have found another one. Besides, wouldn’t she see a dead blossom if that was the case?
She removed her glasses and looked up as she thought it over. She glanced at the Crimson Blush, and her jaw dropped to the ground. One by one, the black, sickly petals opened to reveal the flower within. Scarlet veins lined the blood red, velvety petals and augmented the golden stigma and anthers.
She took in a deep breath. Well, it bloomed. How? She didn’t know. She would give them the A and excuse them from the final exam, but she would need to ask Smalls exactly how he made it grow. She had a feeling he wasn’t what he appeared to be.

Copyright 2018

Comments

I just skimmed the very

I just skimmed the very beginning and after seeing what type of story it is I just have to say YESSSSSS I CANT WAIT THIS GENRE MAKES ME SO EXCITED YESSSSSSSSS.

And with that I’m going to get some sleep and then read tomorrow when I’m fully awake and can therefore fully appreciate the whimsy and innocence of this fantasy/fairytale.

Damaris Ann | Wed, 07/11/2018

I don’t thrive off of chaos: chaos thrives off of me.

Woah...

... to be continued some day?
This was a very imaginative and interesting story. I like plants and wish I had more time to get into studying botany. Having a world populated by different types of creatures / races specifically designed to contribute their efforts to growing plants is intriguing.
And then, the ending... that caught me by surprise! It totally makes sense, and yet at the same time I didn't see it coming. :)

James | Fri, 07/13/2018

<><~~~~~~~~~~~~><>
"The idea that we should approach science without a philosophy is itself a philosophy... and a bad one, because it is self-refuting." -- Dr. Jason Lisle

Okay, I just read and wow.

Okay, I just read and wow. Wow wow wow. You did not disappoint me!! I have to say, this is my favorite fairytale I’ve ever read. Well done! Bravo! Please write more stories like this. :) and I’d LOVE to see a sequel about Smalls. :)

There were a few misspelled words, as well as some conversations that were a bit unclear when it came to who was talking when, but those things could be fixed after a few minutes of editing. Your storytelling skills are INCREDIBLE and I’m so glad you wrote this piece. Moral pieces told in such a whimsical theme are amazing. :)

Damaris Ann | Fri, 07/13/2018

I don’t thrive off of chaos: chaos thrives off of me.

Thank you both so much! I’m

Thank you both so much! I’m glad you enjoyed it. Kind of funny how it turned out. Smalls’s mysterious gift was an unexpected turn, not my original plan. When I first wrote this for my college paper I actually had to stop it in the middle because I had a page limit of five pages. So for a while it didn’t have an ending at all. I’m not sure how to continue it yet, though I have slight idea somewhere in my head.
Thanks for pointing that out, Damaris. I’ll see if I can make this a bit better soon.
Thanks! : D

Jill Levine Tyler | Sat, 07/14/2018

Jill L. Tyler

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

This was so pretty and fun.

This was so pretty and fun. I love this type of story and you wrote it very well. Do you think you'll write more? I mean, I'd love to see more about Smalls, too. ;)

Libby | Wed, 07/18/2018

“The gospel alone is the power of God unto salvation.
Therefore, suffer, yes. Be misunderstood, yes. Be shamed, yes. But do not be ashamed. For the joy set before you, take up your cross, follow Jesus, be shamed and despise the shame!" -- John Piper

Hey Libby! : D I’m glad you

Hey Libby! : D
I’m glad you enjoyed it. I haven’t decided yet. I’m currently working on another project.
That being said, I have a slight idea...the Crimson Secret? Droplet struggles with the knowledge of Smallfoot’s inexplicable gift...and she sees something she’s not supposed to see...? I don’t know. : )

Jill Levine Tyler | Wed, 07/18/2018

Jill L. Tyler

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

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