The Orchid & The Storyteller



This story is an allegory of a real life relationship that developed in my life. It helped me cope with disappointment, and to perhaps be better able to accept the reality that had crashed upon my infatuated fantasy. I cope with the friendship better now, having decided that staying a part of her life is better than nothing, yet there are times when the attraction is still magnetic. I’m sure there are many of you out there who have experienced such a thing and perhaps this will give you a measure of comfort. We can’t have everything we want, but as the song goes, perhaps we’ll get what we need. SxRx

*

The storyteller first heard about the beautiful orchid called My Belle soon after he had been hired by Eagleton’s Earth Emporium as tour guide and storyteller to entertain the customers. Eagleton’s was a purveyor of rare and exotic plants from all over the world, an unusual establishment located in such a Southern town. Eagleton’s had its origins as a humble nursery in Mr. Eagleton Sr., who still worked every day at the age of 87 in the place he built from his own cuttings, grafts and plants he carefully tended and nurtured.

Now, Eagleton Jr. had expanded the place into something marvelous and fashionable, not just greenhouses but an entire Christmas building with artificial trees, miniature cities, collectibles, and ornaments galore. An entire section was devoted to Japanese maples of extensive species and type, Koi pools and everything in between.

One day the storyteller heard about an orchid that was so beautiful some found it hard to do their job around it without staring. He thought it unlikely he could be so lucky to work in that part of the nursery. Although he raised orchids himself, he knew his collection was a bit less grand and never raised his sights to a more satisfying breed of flower, such as the My Belle.

Sure enough, that very same day he found the My Belle orchid as he worked near the orchid pavilion. He peered through the pane of glass at the orchid and was utterly astonished that such a thing of beauty would not be displayed in a major metropolis at some special museum. Yet, there she sat, in all her glory, perched on a lovely display stand. As he realized he was staring, he sensed that the orchid felt him gazing at her. Shaking this off, he went about his job.

Since the Orchid Pavilion was ultimately the most renowned part of Eagleton’s, the storyteller was fated to spend many hours working around My Belle. She was a magnificent specimen with dazzling hues of green and amber flowers, flecked with gold and tinged with a blush of violet that almost glowed. Her flowers were not large but held clear, bold patterns. This was not a shy orchid. It radiated its exquisite formation with a rare clarity.

As it happens, the storyteller was smitten by the orchid’s remarkable beauty. As a master gardener he held the orchid in high regard. Yet, even as he went about his duties, he found that his groups were always drawn to My Belle even during his best stories. He began to grow jealous and soon planned his tours so as to minimize the orchid pavilion in his routines. Somehow he sensed that the orchid was not the least bit impressed with him as it happens.

Yet, eventually, he missed her exquisite beauty and could not help but be drawn back to My Belle. She was simply too gorgeous to ignore. Soon, his admiration returned in force. He accepted My Belle and her beauty and attraction. Instead of avoiding the Pavilion, he decided to include her in most of his tours and spin his stories with My Belle as counter point. He had a large collection of stories for most any occasion. Groups frequently toured the huge complex and he acted as tour guide and more. One of his stories follows:

‘Once upon a time, there was a beautiful, fair maiden who came under the spell of a wicked witch who was jealous of her beauty and was turned from a beautiful girl into a flower, an orchid, lovelier than had ever been seen. As the spell held fast and time went on, the girl thought she could hear the cackles of the old crone as she laughed at her cruel plight, plunged suddenly into the unreality of being no longer human. Yet, as she sat in the crook of an exotic tree near a swampy forest, she imagined she was a sight to behold despite her plight.’

At this point, the storyteller would always wander over to My Belle and caress her petals.

‘Much like this exquisite beauty!’ he would say, leaning down to breathe in her perfume.

‘In time, a brave knight wandered by and admired the beautiful orchid so much that he took it from the crook of the exotic tree near a swampy forest to his castle over the river and through the woods. He placed her in a special spot in his garden near his own rooms where he could gaze at her from his window and visit her easily. He tended her over the coming weeks and months, not allowing his gardener near her. No, she was his to admire and his to tend.

‘When the wicked witch heard of this, she was sorely angered. She had not turned her into a flower to be admired in the castle garden of a brave knight! No, she must not be admired even under these conditions! So, one evening, she stole into the garden to take her and put her in an even more lonesome place where she could be not be admired at all even as a flower and not a fair maiden.

‘The brave knight heard a noise and peeked out to see the witch reaching out to take the beautiful orchid. He rushed to the garden with his sword drawn, and in the struggle with the witch, she fell upon his sword and died. Shocked, he took the orchid out of the clutched hands of the wicked witch and looked upon the flower.

‘As he gazed into her petals, he thought he could see or sense a trembling in them that must be from his own hands and also from the struggle to the death with the witch, so he put the orchid back in the place he had arranged for her. Yet, the orchid plant trembled still.

”What magic is this?’ he thought. ‘Why, if I didn’t know better, I’d think this flower were under a spell.’ Suddenly, the orchid was transformed before him into a beautiful fair maiden who came down from the spot where she had sat as an orchid.

”The spell is broken!’, she shouted, ‘Broken by your love, your courage and your words!’ she cried as she looked down at the witch’s crumpled body on the ground.

‘She walked over to the brave knight and stood before him, gazing into his green eyes. Shocked, the knight reached out to his ‘orchid’ maiden to wrap her in his embrace. She curled into his arms, a place where she truly belonged after all, rather than in an exotic tree in the swampy forest or even in the special shady spot of the brave knight’s castle garden.’

As his storytelling skills grew and he wove his craft into splendorous stories with My Belle as a lead character, he and My Belle soon became famous far and wide.

Yet, still, in his quietude and contemplations, secret thoughts of longing to take My Belle back to his garden hothouse would drift and weave a web of desire almost effortlessly. However, by the time he had realized the truth of his desire lay within the orchid, a sponsor laid claim to her.

Sometimes he would remember his own garden back home and the many beauties he was proud to have and care for. His prize was an older orchid that may have been seen by others as having passed her prime. Yet the storyteller loved her still and saw in her an ageless, simple beauty. She had large, almost voluptuous flowers that hung with the weight of their bounty. Her colors were rich with shades of pink, auburn and red against a milky whiteness that was striking in its contrast.

Still, he was besotted by My Belle, as he gazed at the orchid now permanently labeled by the sponsor’s name. How could this happen he wondered? The sponsor never seemed to come by much at all, but when he did, My Belle seem to almost lean towards him, lavishing all her attention on him. Lucky sponsor, thought the storytel
ler. Yet, he also thought, perhaps he was lucky just to be close to her some of the time.

He often fantasized about going back in time to woo and capture the beautiful orchid for his own. How he would cherish and care for it! Soon, his fantasies would inevitably be broken into shards by hard reality. Yet, as hard as he tried, he could not shake his infatuation with the orchid. Nor could he have her for his own.

Now, My Belle was a much bigger fan of the storyteller than he could have ever known. She appreciated his skill as a gardener and that of storytelling. She loved him in her own way, yet not as she adored her sponsor. For some time she had given out mixed signals to the poor storyteller as she relished and wallowed in his smitten attentions.

As many beautiful things are wont to be, she was obsessed with praise and admiration. Unawares or not, she encouraged his special treatment of her and should not have been surprised that he longed to have her for his own and so enjoy a deeper level of intimacy.

And so, the storyteller spun his stories, still fancying My Belle who never once discouraged his lavish attentions. Yet she too grew in her fondness for him and soon they formed a special friendship that grew in depth and love of a kind.

SxRx

*

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