NAVIGATE

ICHABOD'S FLOWERS


In order to make something magic of any flower, one must go to Ichabod Joffe first. To get to him, you must walk to where Seo-hyeon gardens are, right on the north side of the central plaza of the magic side of town. That's where he works, you see.

A 1020 word short story, in a weird narrative style, about both inner struggle and the town's local magical botanist.


In order to make something magic of any flower, one must go to Ichabod Joffe first. To get to him, you must walk to where Seo-hyeon gardens are, right on the north side of the central plaza of the magic side of town. That's where he works, you see. Seo-hyeon gardens was named for the original founder, a horticulturist back in the 1800s named Seo-hyeon and her wife Ħelga. He inherited it due to being family friends of their own, and he happily lives and works there, and always has.

Ichabod is not the only magical botanist in the world, obviously, but he is one of the best locally. You'll know him when you see him. He is a very unassuming young man, diminutive in stature, with a nicely curved face and kind eyes. He has one of those faces with wide cheeks that curves into a rounded chin that stuck out slightly, freckles smattering over every inch of his body, a dimple that only graces his right cheek, short and well-cut brown curls, and has a big, round nose with thin eyebrows that rest high above his small eyes. Softly he practically dances about as he walks around the large greenhouse, his long skirt swishing gently at his heels.

If you want to make something magic of any flower, any plant, ask him what you should do. He will probably smile and gesture to all of the weird and strange and magical plants around him and ask: "Which one would you like?"

If you are anything like me, you would ask him that you don't know. You'd say that you need something to protect yourself, to soothe your anxieties.

"You know," he would say with a kind smile, "people ask me for that a lot." Then he would take a sweeping look at you and see your exhaustion, bitterness, the shaking in your legs, and say: "Sit down. Let me get you some tea."

So, you sit down. He would prance back to where he kept his teas, his potions, his creations, and come out with a beautifully and delicately painted tea cup filled with, to quote him: "The best soothing tea I have," blended with the kindest and sweetest of his flowers.

You'd thank him with a weak smile, and take sips. Almost immediately you would feel soothing sensations in your head, releasing the tautness in your temples, and kneading at the anxiety in your chest. Your thank you would be more earnest the second time you say it.

"Of course," he'd say, sitting down next to you. Inside the gardens, the air is thick but sweet, and hundreds of thousands of plants tower over and curl around the two of you. It is a wonderfully intimate atmosphere. "What is troubling you?" He'd ask. "Tell me as much of your situation as you'd like, and that will help me create something better for you. If not, then that's alright."

And here is when you would tell him everything. All of that pain of all the months, the years, the days, the seconds of stabbing - or maybe dull - agony. You'd end up hurling everything that you are into the flesh of his memory, everything in between the static shapes of your name, how you act. There is not a more gently listening ear than him when it comes to the most existential of despairs, rolling gently out of your lungs and through your hoarse voice like thick, black tar.

After it all, he will laugh. Not a mean laugh, or a well meaning one that still smarts your wounds, but the most considerate of ones. This is a man who truly knows his own words, his capabilities. This is a man who has perfected the art of sweetening his voice, words, actions, just so. Maybe you'll wonder how such a patient man exists. Maybe you'll even wonder if he is alright, doing all this for you and the many others who were hurt and are hurting in this cruel world.

"It's nothing, really," he'll say as he waves sheepishly. "People come to me all the time, with all sorts of ailments and maladies. Magic is all about ailments and maladies. Now, give me a small moment, and I'll write up a recipe."

While he does so, maybe you'll think about what he will use. Maybe he will use the brightest red of roses that have been grown in the soil of a ley line, the petals plucked under the full moon. Maybe he will use a peel of the rare golden apples hanging from the glorious tree he has. Maybe he will use the woven fibers of a welwitschia, boiled in a pot with an intricate rune carved along the bottom. Maybe he will use freshly cut mandrake root, harvested in only the utmost safe conditions. Maybe he would use the treated leaves of the Vegetable Lamb of Tartary that he has over in the corner, within your line of sight. You'll wonder, most insistently, how he will swoop in on his delicate wings and save your life with a concoction that he'll hold in thin, freckled hands.

You'll thank him most generously, and do try to pay him in some way if you can - he won't mind if you can not afford anything, but it is simply polite to give what is possible - and then he'll quietly lead you out. If you're anything like me, the questions of how he is, or how his own day was, will be at the tip of your tongue. Maybe they won't leave.

Once you are out the doors, I recommend that you stop and look at the plaques near the entrance about the history of the greenhouse. It is most interesting, honestly! However, I warn you, if you look for just a moment back inside, you may see him sitting in the chair that he sat. Your absence will be absolutely smothering. Seeing him, delicate and unmoving, with a slightly hunched spine and cradling the empty teacup that you drank from in his hands, he will look completely and utterly alone.


END