Grass Rafts and Gender Roles – by Izzy Duffy-Cross (High School)

They told me I was a Gardenia.
My mother was sure of it, she said no other flower could capture me so exactly. My father agreed, and he said it suits girls to be gardenias. He said all the boys will want to pick flowers like me.
I do not want to be a Gardenia. I want to be grass.
Once, when I was playing by the river next to our home, a small boy trotted over, his eyes wide and curious like a pony. We played together amicably, throwing delicate splashes of water at one another, digging in the soil with our fingernails, watching the sky shift and the clouds roll by. Then he waded into the water. Deep water.
It spilled over his knees and thighs and waist. Eventually, his neck was suffocated by the blue and his face looked like a bobbing apple.
Hastily, I tore off my shoes and knotted some sticks together with grass. Sending the makeshift raft over to him, I dived into the water and zigzagged against currents to reach the boy. The grass raft and I pulled him to shore.
The next day the boy gave me a gardenia. Its petals were as fragile as his limp body in the water.
I want to be grass. Strong, undefeatable, always there.

Learn more about the contest which inspired this story:  Nutshell Narratives 2019-04

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