Stella Leventoyannis Harvey

Silky Scorpion Weed

With each step I smell the hot pine of the forest. A puffy cloud marks the cerulean sky. Towers of sedimentary rock surround me. In the distance, a sea of alpine flowers−red, yellow, white and fuchsia−wave in the breeze. A clump of deep purple catches my eye. I get closer as we are wont to do with the unusual. The petals are a delicate starburst shape. It’s not until I get a better look that I see the spikes, almost invisible, but nevertheless as pointy as freshly sharpened knives.

 I’m in the Rockies, my yearly get-away. This is my escape. I don’t have to worry about the novel that is waiting for a new chapter, the festival program I have to review and correct, the emails piling up unread, the phone messages I can’t hear. I’m unplugged. I know all will wait for my return, and at the moment, I can’t do anything about any of it. Instead, I focus on each step I take. My breath is saved for the ascents and my words are limited to descriptions of the scenery. My vocabulary seems miserably inadequate, which might not be a bad thing in a place where quiet awe is the only way to show reverence.

The plant that has caught my eye is called a Silky Scorpion Weed. As a writer, I think about how the word, silky contrasts with, scorpion and weed.  I think of characters I could create, scenes I could place them in, how I might use this divergent metaphor to build a story.

The Silky Scorpion Weed can cause skin irritation in some people. This is apparently how it got its name. The truth is a bit of a disappointing let down. I’ve already associated the plant to friendships gone awry, poisonous, backstabbing words uttered by cheating, misbehaving characters. What can I tell you? I have a vivid imagination.

Yes, I know I’m not supposed to be thinking when I’m away from my day to day life, but I can’t help myself. And besides I get my best ideas when I’m not straining to think. Thoughts seem to come into my head freely.  

The story I’ve now built in my head makes me think about some of my own relationships. As Oscar Wilde said, “life imitates art far more than art imitates life.”

You know when you’re first attracted to someone? You want to understand everything there is about them. You hope they’ll be interested in you too. Even if you don’t admit it to yourself, you hope they will like you as much as you like them. We never seem to out grow this need. None of my characters do either. Yes, this seems to be a recurring theme (among others) in my stories. Sometimes, I can be so transparent, even when I’m trying for subterfuge.

Then something happens in the relationship. It might be that he or she doesn’t tell you the truth about a situation or perhaps they talk about you to someone else. You hear your secret insecurities played back, used against you.

You get angry. Why is he or she doing this to me? You tell yourself their actions say more about them than it says about you. Others agree. And still, neither your anger nor the support of your friends seems to relieve the hurt.

When the anger subsides, I often wonder what it is about me that prompts someone to hurt me.

Maybe the person didn’t want to tell me the truth because he or she was afraid of my reaction. It’s possible that I’m like the Silky Scorpion Weed, soft at initial blush, and thorny when you get too close. Just like in the stories I write, I search for reasons, the truth about myself.

These jumbled thoughts are the way of my brain. Perhaps, instead of thinking about these things I’ve just written, and searching for answers, I should simply keep walking. I am supposed to be on a get-away. Right?

    Silky Scorpion Weed                 silky scorpian weed2

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