Delphinium

E. Van Zanten

When her third year of primary school began, her self-introduction was met with wide eyes and gawking faces. Even she knew her name was the catalyst: it was elegant, difficult, unique, and it took a number of peer-influenced sermons in small groups for her classmates to be educated extensively on Delphinium elatum. Given newfound attention, Delphi’s blossoming satisfaction fueled a modest, mild ego.

The first few days of classes breezed on by, Delphi observed, and with every passing day, there was more to tell her peers in all their budding curiosity: that Delphinium represented joy and goodwill, that Delphinium grew on mountains in Africa, that Delphinium was toxic to humans in many ways.

But one of Delphi’s fun facts delighted her peers in an unexpected way.

She shared a story her mother had told her once—that before she was born, a forest sprite appeared to her mother in a dream. It ensured her that her child would be a happy one, born in July when she was due. The girl, her vision prophesied, would be named “Delphinium”, and Delphinium would be born blessed with a unique talent and vigor for life.

Delphi, cradling a column of larkspur in her arms—her item of choice for Monday’s show-and-tell—was met with uproarious laughter, energetic hollers that her teacher fought to tame.

A hot blush bloomed across Delphi’s cheeks, the thundering of her heartbeat drowning out the heckling of her peers. Her classmates came to their sobered senses at their teacher’s eager request, but one child hadn’t had enough:

“Do you have powers, then? Prove it!”

Delphi glowered, eyeing the tower of blooms in her arms, and leaned into the bundle, ripping a bite from the stalk with challenged tenacity. Her peers squealed, crying out with excitement as she gulped down the plant, all the while shouting out reminders of Delphi’s former warnings.

Her teacher, of course, had not forgotten Delphi’s words and needed no reminder; panicked, she rushed the child to the nurse, Delphi resisting all the while.

The girl was seated stiff on a cot, reprimanded as the nurse, panicked, cradled a corded phone against her ear and rifled through poison control handbooks in the pursuit of an antidote.

Her mother arrived in short time, frantic and terrified. The nurse met her at the front office with remarkable composure, meekly wilted.

The skin irritation and stomach problems that she had anticipated, the nurse explained, had never emerged. Instead, according to Delphi’s apt self-diagnosis, she felt perfectly fine, and, in fact, was actually “in a much, much better mood than before.”

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E. Van Zanten is a university student from north Texas taking her first dig into publishing at the age of 23. When she itches to garden, she usually does so through farming games in lieu of cluttering up her apartment.

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