The Orichalcum Orchid

October 11, 2013 at 4:22 am (Short Stories)

The Orichalcum Orchid

“Hey Suzanne!”
Suzanne turned around to see Chad Peters running towards her down the school hallway. Chad was a small boy just entering the 6th grade. Suzanne was two grades above him and it was a tax on her memory to even remember his true name.
“What is it, Chad?” She asked impatiently.
“It’s your birthday!” He said brightly, panting slightly from his run. His backpack looked like it was three sizes too big for him and the straps made it hang down to his bottom.
“I know when my birthday is, Chad.” She was impatient. Her friends were waiting for her outside.
“Oh. Yes…” He faltered and looked unsure of himself. He looked like he was trying to talk but the words weren’t coming out. His face slowly grew red from the embarrassment.
“Chad. I’m about to leave.”
“I’m sorry. I get nervous. I have a gift for you.” He reached into his bag and pulled out a tupperware container. He opened it carefully and retrieved a something from inside. It was a piece of paper, folded carefully and meticulously into what looked like a flower.
“It’s an orchid,” he said, “it’s orichalcum.”
“What?” She took it from him, rather roughly. “Don’t you mean origami?” She asked as she examined the paper flower. It was gold in color and made flawlessly. It was the best origami she had ever seen. Each line was careful and perfect. It looked the nearest thing to a real flower.
“No! I mean, well yes, it is origami. But it’s orichalcum too.” He looked flustered.
“What’s orci-cal-whats-it?” She asked, turning the gold flower in her hands. “Is it a special kind of paper or flower?”
Chad felt a burst of confidence at this. She seemed interested in his gift. He rushed eagerly to explain.
“No, it’s a metal! It’s the very rarest there is. It’s even more rare than gold because no one knows how to find it anymore or what it was made of.” He favored her with his brightest smile.
“Chad, this is paper. It’s just paper.”

She turned her back to him then and walked away down the hall, tossing the flower in a trash can as she opened the exit door.
“Wait! You just have to pretend…”
His words were cut off by the slamming of the hall door, leaving him standing alone in the now deserted hallway.
He stood there for a moment, one arm flung out towards the closed door as if he could call her back with a gesture. The door remained firmly closed and his arm dropped limply to his side. He took a step or two towards the trash can that had become the final resting place of the orchid and stopped. It had been hers and hers to do with as she willed. He leaned up against the wall, defeated and slid down behind a water fountain. Tears of frustration welled in his eyes. He had practiced for three weeks to get an orchid folded so perfectly. He rested his head in his hands and cried softly to himself.

The door at the end of the hallway opened quietly and without Chad noticing. Suzanne slipped back in from outside. Her friends hadn’t waited for her after all, they probably hadn’t even remembered it was her birthday. She looked down the hallway, and seeing it was empty, reached into the trash can and pulled out the gold paper flower. She examined it and found that it was unscathed from its foray into the garbage. She marveled at it again, it was beautiful.

There was a sound partway down the hall that caught her attention. She looked up from the flower and saw a pair of small legs sticking out from behind the water fountain. She walked up quietly and squatted down beside Chad. He pretended like he hadn’t been crying. She displayed the flower to him.
“So, orichalcum, huh?” She asked.
“No it’s really just colored paper.” He sounded dejected. “I just wanted to give you something no one else could. So I hoped if I pretended it was orichalcum that you might pretend with me, and that way I could have gotten you something special.”
She twirled the small golden paper flower in her hand.
“Nope,” she said, giving Chad a big smile, “It’s just paper. It’s just paper and it’s special. I’ve never gotten anything like it. Thank you.”
He looked up briefly and saw the truth in her eyes. He smiled too.

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