The Sunflower Seed

by Neha Soni, age 11
The Sunflower Seed Neha likes swimming, reading and writing. She won second place in the European Autumn Writing Contest at Mothering Matters.

“By the time the couple blinked an eye the old man was gone and he had left 2000 rands in their hands. This money they put in a secret compartment in the attic floor. They knew he must be telling the truth. So true it was 2000 rands’ worth.”

In 1989 a couple bought a cozy little home right by a small pond in a hot village in South Africa. There they started a business in which they owned a rose garden and sold roses to all the townspeople. Their business grew and they started selling their flowers to some of the wealthiest people in the world who would fly in from foreign countries just to buy their roses. The reason their roses were so special was because the roses were naturally grown and they smell better than anybody else’s. They were so happy that they expanded their garden and grew even more roses. This lead them to more business and more money. They were now loaded and had to keep all their money in the bank for safe keeping. They put it under their last name: Soilen.

One early morning an old man with a colorful apron and a little brown pouch came by the garden wanting to buy one single rose. This was unusual for the couple because their buyers always wanted more than a single rose. Of course they sold him one rose but when he had to pay he gave them a large amount of money and he wouldn’t take his change. When they asked him, “Why are you giving us more than we need?” his answer was, “She’ll need it one day.” By the time the couple blinked an eye the old man was gone and he had left 2000 rands in their hands. This money they put in a secret compartment in the attic floor. They knew he must be telling the truth. So true it was 2000 rands’ worth.

One year later the wife was pregnant with a baby girl. The couple celebrated every night until the baby was born by making rose tea and drinking it with their dinner. Their baby was born on the first of July. The same day that the couple always planted their new roses each year. This just had to be a sign or pure luck. This lead them to naming their precious baby daughter Rosie Soilen. On her shoulder there was a birthmark in the shape of a petal, but it wasn’t a rose petal. It had a bit of a pointy tip and the sides were slightly curved.

Rosie grew up to be kind, loyal and a great gardener. On her 12th birthday her parents gave her rose perfume. They had made it themselves. By hand. They had been working on it for three months alongside selling their roses. Rosie put it in a pink, floral box and kept it safe by putting it in a little compartment it the attic floorboards. She thought she saw something else in there but when she took a closer look a cloud of dust made her sneeze and shut the floorboard compartment. She kept thinking why something else would be in there when she heard a siren. It was the ambulance heading straight for her house. She had been in the attic for an hour now and was wondering what had happened. She scurried downstairs and beneath her she saw her mother lying on the floor in pain. Her mother’s heartbeat was slowing down as she was lifted into the ambulance truck. Then Rosie saw a man with a colored apron in the distance who was watching the commotion with a tear dripping down his face. After that she saw him sprinkle a seed into the ground. She slowly started walking over to tell him their garden was private property but as she looked up he was gone!

Once the ambulance drove away Rosie and her father got into the car to follow it and see Rosie’s mother. In the car Rosie told her dad about the mysterious man in the garden. He seemed to not really care until she said he was wearing a colorful apron. He hit the break of the car so hard she saw little sparks coming from the tires. Her father gulped hard. Did he know this man? Were her parents hiding something from her? She had figure out who the man was. Did he do something bad?

Once they got to the hospital to check on her mother, the doctors stopped them from coming in the room. They all had sad looks on their faces and the sad faces spread to Rosie and her father once they heard the tragic news. Her mother had died. Apparently for more than four years she had a tumor in her throat and it had caused a bad case of throat cancer which killed her but she didn’t know of it. Rosie and her father were heartbroken. From now on it was just the two of them.

Three years later the business was still running very well. On an early morning, Rosie and her father were picking the roses when suddenly her father stopped. He took a deep breath and said, ”Rosie, please go put on a nice dress for lunch…oh and take a quick shower. We have lunch guests.”

“Who is it father?” asked Rosie curiously.

She was hoping it was one of her friends. She ran upstairs and got ready. She even ran up to the attic and quickly put on some of her rose perfume. She heard a car driving up the path and then it stopped and she heard girls’ voices. She thought that her friends had come to lunch but when she looked out of the window she saw a tall, skinny women and three girls she had never seen before. The women was an employee who helped plant the roses. She and Rosie’s dad got along quite well. The only thing strange about this lady was that she was awfully poor. “She must live in the little farmhouse in the field,” thought Rosie sadly.

She walked downstairs and saw a beautifully set table with little rose petals as decorations and red napkins and in the center of the table was a giant roasted turkey. Yummy. There were vegetables too and one big jug of water. ”This is one special lunch,” thought Rosie. The she saw the girls and their mother.

”Hi,” said Rosie trying to greet them kindly. They also introduced themselves.

“Hello sweetheart! How are you?” said Rita the rose picker. “These are my daughters: The tall one’s Lilly, the short one is Daisy and the chubby one is Flora.”

“I am not chubby!” screamed Flora. Rosie’s dad walked in looking happy and relieved that everyone was getting along.

They sat down at the table and started eating their lunch as Rosie’s dad stood up. ”I would like to make an announcement!” he started, ”Rita and I have been talking.” Rosie’s eyes widened. ”Rita is my best employee at the moment and I would like to thank her by helping her.” Rita looked like she knew what was coming but she also looked thankful. ”Rosie.” Rosie looked up ready to hear it. ”Rita and her family will be living with us!” Rosie’s face dropped. Would her life become like Cinderella?! She was furious. This was her family’s home-not a hotel… that’s free!

Once the Alcove family had left, Rosie didn’t say a word to her father. She just watched him. There was something he wasn’t telling her. Then he froze. ”Rosie, the reason the Alcoves are staying here is because I will be leaving for three weeks on a business trip.” Rosie’s brightened face fell. ”I am selling roses to the Queen of England and the Mayor of St. Gallen, Switzerland.You will stay here with the Alcoves until I get back.”

”Will they leave after you return?” asked Rosie firmly.

“I don’t know,” answered her dad. She had never been away from her parents. The only place she went alone to was school. She was willing to try it if it would make the business do well.

It was the big day. Her dad gave her a tight, loving hug and the last thing he did was whisper something in her ear. ”The box in the attic is for you in case of any emergency. Don’t tell anyone about it. I love you.” Then he rode off into the distance until his car looked like a little blob in the sunrise. She turned around to see the Alcoves putting their boxes into the house.

”Now girls,” said Rita. ”We have to figure out rooms and bathroom schedules. Rosie you will stay in your room, Daisy and Flora you will share the big room and Lilly will be in the small room and I will be in the master bedroom. Are we clear?” she chanted.

“Yes,” answered the three daughters.

“Of course,” said Rosie trying to adapt. She shouldn’t feel misplaced in her own home. She had her own bathroom so she wouldn’t have to share. Then she remembered what her father had said about the box in the attic. She ran up and brought the box down along with her rose perfume. She hid them in the little safe in her room. She locked her bedroom door and started looking out the window. How had this happened? There were people living in her house. Her father was gone and her mother was dead. Out the window she saw that old man with the colorful apron again! He was watering a patch of soil. She could see a slight bit of yellow coming out of the ground. What was he doing?

She saw him purposely drop a scroll of paper onto the soil patch. All of a sudden Rosie felt the urge to run over there and read the scroll. She ran as fast as the wind could take her. She stopped at the soil patch. She picked up the scroll of paper and took a quick look at the soil patch where she saw a small yellow flower growing. What is a buttercup or a dandelion? She sped back to the house, ran up to her room and locked the door. She opened up the scroll which read:

Dear Rosie,

You are the only person in the world that can know about this. I am your grandfather 3 generations back (from your mother’s side). I once discovered a special wishing potion in the Stone-age. As you can see I wished to live forever. I am an explorer, scientist and a psychic. All along I knew your mother was going to die. I just didn’t know of what. I would have alarmed her if I told her and wasn’t 100% sure. It is lovely too see the family grow and even more lovely to see you.

I knew about you before you were even born. Let me get to the point. I created a wishing sunflower. I planted a single sunflower on the soil patch. It’s a magic sunflower. Whenever you pick off a petal you can make a wish. There are eight petals and only one wish can be made each day.

Just so you know this is top secret. I also gave your parents 2000 rands in a box for you. I hope you get the money. Keep this all to yourself.

Lots of love

The man in the colorful apron 😉

Rosie gasped! She was speechless. Unbelievable. How? Grandfather? … Magic? Stoneage!!

This meant there was money in the box and she couldn’t let anyone else know about the sunflower. She couldn’t let anybody see it either. She had to keep it all a secret. She took a deep breath and put the scroll into the safe as well and locked it tightly. The next morning she peered out of the kitchen window and then she saw it.

The sunflower. It was like a sun in a big ocean of red roses. It stood out…oh no! She had to pick it before anyone else noticed it. She ran through the mud and soil, her feet were splashing in puddles of last night’s rain and she bounced to the soil patch just in time. She picked the fully grown flower and ran back to the house. The Alcoves were still asleep so she tip-toed up to her room and put the flower in the safe.

She felt special. She made herself a special waffle with special syrup and special blueberries. She put on a special dress and special sneakers and a special headband that her mother gave her. She carried a special book that her father bought her and she sat down on the sofa and started to read. Daisy came downstairs. ”Good morning Rosie,” she whispered.

”Morning,” whispered back Rosie happily.

Rita woke up next and started making breakfast.”You look happy,” she said to Rosie.

“I am,” she replied. ”By the way I already made waffles- with my dad’s special recipe.”

“That’s very kind!” said Rita. ”Thanks.”

That afternoon the postman came by and gave Rita who was picking flowers a letter. She took a break and opened the envelope slowly making sure it wouldn’t rip. She read it four times and each time her face looked sadder and sadder. She looked at all four girls who were eating lunch in the garden. Their expressions changed as well. She paused and then said ”Rosie, I am afraid that…” Rosie knew it. Cinderella’s life had also become hers. ”…Your father’s car slipped off London bridge because in London it’s winter and the bridge was icy. He didn’t know how to swim so he drowned.” It was a bad year for Rosie. ”In the letter,” she continued, ”the police also found a paper where he wrote: TO ROSIE;GTE HTE XBO.” The Alcoves looked confused but Rosie knew exactly what it meant. GET THE BOX. The box with the 2000 Rands.

Rosie made her first wish on the sunflower that day. It was the same as her grandfather’s. ”LIVE FOREVER.” The next day she wished “BUSINESS BLOOM” just in case her next two wishes were impossible. The same day they earned 600 Rands just from selling roses. The days went by quickly and it had been a year since her father passed away. The only things she had left to comfort her was her grandfather, the money and the flower. The Alcoves helped as much as possible. She was glad they were arranged to live in her home or she’d be all alone.

The girl had six wishes left on her beloved sunflower. The only reason she didn’t wish for her parents to awaken first was because just in case bringing a person back to life wasn’t possible she wanted to have made other important wishes first. She chose to wish for her mother to come back. ”AWAKEN MOTHER” she wished. She looked up to see her mother looking confused.”What happened?” she asked. Rosie explained everything even though she wasn’t supposed to tell. She wished ”CURE MOTHER” to get rid of the throat tumor. Then she wished “AWAKEN DAD.” Her father appeared. She explained again. Her fourth wish was to give the Alcoves a bigger and better home of their own in the field. ”ALCOVE HOME.” The Alcoves vanished. Rosie heard happy squeals coming from the field. The seventh wish was “GRANDFATHER.” The man in the colorful apron appeared and then she introduced him to her parents. Her last wish was “LOVE.” This didn’t change anything because her family already loved each other dearly.

Years went by as the Soilen family (Rosie, mother, father, grandfather) sold their roses and a new business that is owned by grandfather which is selling sunflowers! They have dinner with the Alcoves every Monday evening and they live happily in the South African Grasslands.

Through time, Rosie realised that her birthmark was a small but bold sunflower petal.
THE END

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