On Violet, Who Isn’t a Flower – by Jessica Novinger (Adult)
What’s in a name, really. Cindy? Garth? Veronica, Beth, Bryant. Then there is me: short, fat, black-haired. My name is Violet.
“There’s power in a flower, Violet,” said my fourth grade teacher, who tried too hard to reach me. I remember her words. Her name was Ms. First Name, and her first name is what I don’t remember. She made me so angry then. Relating me, a person, a living, growing girl to: Viola, a genus of flowering plants in the violet family Violaceae.
But I’m a human girl, I’m not a plant. And if I were to be a plant, I certainly wouldn’t be a flower. Maybe I would be a fern. Something utilitarian. Easy to grow. A plant that is humble, but rarely considered beautiful. Right?
Am I humble, though? I don’t seem to know anything about myself. Everyone has a story about me, though. The mourning Mother Mary turned violets from white to purple because of her grief. Zeus turned a nymph named Io into a cow because he didn’t want his wife to find out about her. Io, now a cow, well, she wept while eating grass so Zeus turned her tears to tender tasty violets only she could eat. Violet flowers steeped in hot water mend a broken heart. Violets help induce sleep; they help cure aches and pains.
But what power do I have and who am I but short, fat, black-haired Violet?
I started my freshman year in college two weeks ago. A guy named Gabrielle from poetry class talks to me, and we make each other laugh. He says I’m sweet and cute and kind, and when he does, my cheeks flush and turn my black skin red.
We spend some of our nights in a quiet courtyard and share his earbuds because we like the same music. Last night I shared my reservations about myself and how I don’t know who I am.
“That’s all well and good,” he laughed, then turned to me and said “Two weeks ago I didn’t know a thing about violets.”