Day Lilies and True Lilies – by Deborah Mercer (Adult)

Everyone had hoped the village school wouldn’t close, and everyone had known it would. A school with just fifteen pupils wasn’t, in that word Marion, who had taught there for ten years loathed, viable.
A naturally shy person, unless she was with the children, Marion had still gone on demonstrations and spoken to local radio.
But even as she did, she wondered how much was for the children’s sake and how much for her own. That little, slightly shabby red-brick building had been her salvation. Her fiancé had told her it was “Me, not you” only a week after her father died and she’d had a kind of breakdown, sure she’d never be able to carry on teaching. But she had, at that little school where she had started a vegetable garden and a choir, and become a loved and respected member of a community that was often wary with strangers.
Of course she didn’t have favourites, but she couldn’t help a soft spot for little Molly Adams . She was being raised by her Grandma, who had the most beautiful garden in the village. Not the largest, not even the best-kept, but the most beautiful. Molly never tired of talking of Grandma’s Garden.
And on the last day the school was open, everyone brought Marion a little gift, but Molly brought her a bunch of flowers – flowers with soft, rich colours, and frilled edges, and what seemed like a little forest growing at their heart; their blooms seeming to shape-shift even as you looked at them. “They’re pretty, Miss!” Molly said.
“They are, love,” Marion agreed. “Say thank you to your Grandma.”
But she called into Grandma’s garden herself, and said, “Thank you for the lilies.”
“They’re not true lilies, but day lilies” Mrs Adams gently corrected her. “It’s said their blooms only last a day. But don’t be sad, child. For every bloom that dies, a new one grows.”
Marion understood. That night, she had a little weep, but then she sent off her application for the teaching vacancy she’d seen advertised.
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Learn more about the contest which inspired this story:  Nutshell Narratives 2019-04

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