I ran towards the thin slits of light ahead, falling head long towards the opening. It was impossible to breathe and my stomach was growing sick with nausea. I could not feel my legs but knew they were still beneath me.
Suddenly,blinded by the scorching sun, my eyes squeezed shut as tears ran down my cheeks. I sucked in a humongous gulp of air, again and again, until my body collapsed onto the sandy floor. Only my palms flat against the hot dusty road assured me that the spinning was just in my head. Beads of sweat trickled down the sides of my face even as my heart thumped painfully against my chest.
The thick curtain from where I had emerged imprisoned people that were trapped in a heavy cloud of smoke that chained them to their habit. Their only need was for the dark, sticky tar-like substance of opium, which they stuffed into their pipes. They died bit by bit with each inhalation, until eternal sleep took them.
I returned to my room and packed my belongings immediately. As I sat at the train station, a little old lady who was carrying a basket of poppy flowers stopped in front of me and gave me a one. I shook my head to decline. I had given the last local currency to the hostel owners, eager to expunge any and every association with this place. I pointed at my pockets and gestured with my hands that I did not have money to give to her in exchange.
She smiled and insisted. She didn’t want my money. Instead, she gave me a little card with printed words. It read,
In Flanders Fields
By Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly.
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Gratitude, Hope & Remembrance
I was astounded. This flower responsible for countless lost lives was also the flower to commemorate servicemen and women who gave their lives to save millions. The poppy grows in the absence of other flowers and only in ground that has been churned. Since November 1921, on the eleventh day of the eleventh month of every year, we don the poppy to show our gratitude and hope for veterans and survivors of the First World War, and by extension to all military men and women.
The poppy flower that brought death also brought forgiveness, gratitude and hope.
Fiction Inspired by:The Butterfly Effect