by Jeff Baker
Many years ago, in the Kingdom of Ice was a small village at the base of an icy hill. The villagers were not troubled by the ground being frozen all year because it had always been that way and they preferred it. Vegetables and fruits were grown in one of the caves under the hill where it was warm and wet. There were a host of edible mushrooms which provided protein on days when the hunters did not have much luck catching game. Water was no problem either as they were able to melt the ice for all the water they needed.
One day, however, on the edge of town there was something few people in the village had ever seen: a bright yellow flower poking out of a mound of ice. The younger villagers were puzzled as they had not traveled far and had not seen a flower before. So, they awakened the Ice Elder who was the wisest of them all and soon the Elder was there at the edge of town, wearing his warm robe over his fur pajamas and thick, warm boots on his feet.
The Elder surveyed the ice and the flower growing out of it.
“It’s a flower all right,” the Elder said, wiggling the stem to make sure someone had not just stuck it there as a prank. “A rose to be exact. I haven’t seen one of these in years.”
“How did it get there?” Akminar, one of the young men asked,
“Grew there, it seems,” said the Elder.
“Did somebody plant it?” Zomiach asked. He was the other young man. His father was trying to get him interested in dating Akminar, because of a rumor that Akminar’s family was secretly rich. They weren’t.
“I think the stem goes all the way down to the ground,” the Elder said. The ice pile was half as tall as the Elder who was just slightly taller than the two young men who had not quite reached the Age of Ascension. The Elder rubbed his chin. “We would have to uproot the flower or shovel the pile away to see exactly whether the flower is growing from the ground and if it is just the first of several. But I have a book in my library which tells of the ways of flowers.”
“My Grandfather says that flowers are inedible and therefore impractical,” Zomiach said, trying to look knowledgeable.
“The Mushrooms and fronds in the caves look more appetizing,” Akminar said.
“There are edible flowers but this isn’t one of them,” the Elder said. “Still…”
The Elder turned to Zomiach and Akminar. “Run to the village and bring everyone you can,” he said. “Practicality is all well and good, but genuine beauty like this rose growing in an unexpected place can make even the coldest of us feel warm”
Pingback: New Year’s 2023: Jeff Baker, Boogieman in Lavender – Queer Sci Fi