Your parents have always been protective of you for as long as you could remember. The entire house was padded even when you grew out of your toddler years. You were homeschooled and someone was always hovering to make sure you didn’t trip or hurt yourself. You thought this was them being irrationally overprotective until one winter day, your hands were so dry that your skin broke. A drop of blood fell to the ground and almost instantly, red flowers bloomed from where it landed.
If there was a word for obsessively overprotective, it would describe my parents to a tee. For as long as I could remember, they’ve been crazy about my safety, and it goes well beyond normal paranoia. Let me explain a little further. Reason number one; I was never alone. Which one might say isn’t too bad, but I really mean it when I say never. I had a constant shadow. Right now, it was an ox of a man named Brutus. I scowled at him as I made my way down the street. I shouldn’t be mad at him. It’s not his fault, but I just wanted to take a quiet walk to the park and get out of the house. Alone!
Second, I’m home schooled. I have no friends and rarely interact with the outside world. I live like a prisoner locked up in my own home. I experience life through others on YouTube, Tiktok, or other social media sites. I’ve made a few virtual friends, but I’ve never met them in real life. It’s a lonely existence, especially because my parents work two jobs to be able to pay for the tutors and the bodyguards, so I don’t see them often. Maybe it’s better that I don’t have any real-life friends because if they ever came to my house, they’d have questions that I couldn’t answer. Well, the answers would mortify me, which leads me to my third reason. My house has padded walls everywhere. This may have seemed somewhat normal when I was a baby, but at 15 years old, it was insane.
I never understood why my parents treated me this way. They’ve always been cryptic when it came to the why’s.
“You must never get hurt, Dalia!”
It was what my mother always said to me. In my fifteen years of life, I have never fallen down and hurt myself. Someone was always there to catch me, which was strange. Why would my parents be so obsessed with me falling? Isn’t it normal for kids to fall and get scrapes and bruises? I shook my head from my thoughts and focused on the path in front of me. It was a beautiful November day. The weather was colder than I was used to, but I relished in the feeling of the icy wind whipping against my face. It was so much better than the stifling heat in the house. The playground was empty because of the cold weather. I frowned momentarily until I realized that since it was so empty, I could swing on the swings for a while. As I walked over to them, Brutus called out a warning to me.
“Dahlia, please, you know the rules.” He said with a firm but pleading tone. Sometimes I felt bad for him getting stuck watching me all day.
“C’mon Brutie, there’s no one here. I just want to swing on the swings for a little while. I’m not going to hurt myself sitting here.”
I pleaded with him and tried very hard to look innocent. He gave me a slight nod.
“Yes!” I yelled and pumped my fist in the air.
I ran over to the swings and was overjoyed by the sensation of flying through the open air. Something so small that most people took for granted was a source of great joy and happiness for me. For a moment, I could forget that I was here with a bodyguard, and I was a constant prisoner in my home. It was such a freeing feeling. I savored every minute that I spent on that swing. Ten minutes later, Brutus was clearing his throat trying to get my attention. I knew that my time was up. Just to mess with him, I jumped off the swing at the last minute. His eyes widened as he held his hands out. I landed squarely on my feet and laughed at him. I knew he was mad at me, but I saw the slight lift of his lips as if he was amused and trying to hide it.
I was just outside of the little playground when I noticed my hands felt too tight and there was a slight sting in my knuckle. Maybe it was the flimsy set of gloves I had on that didn’t protect my hands well enough. My skin was extremely dry. As I inspected my hands, I realized that the skin broke and there was a drop of blood welling up in the crack. It fascinated me. I had never seen myself bleed before, at least not that I could remember. I pumped my hand, increasing the amount of blood flow to that one spot, making the droplet bigger. It was a stupid thing to be fascinated with honestly, but I couldn’t remember the last time I saw my own blood.
It was then that Brutus came up behind me to see what I was doing. When he saw the drop of blood about to fall, he screamed, “Dahlia no!”
My brows pulled together at his harsh tone. I looked up as he paled. I watched in confusion as emotions crossed his face rapidly. Regret, apprehension, and fear. I couldn’t understand why. Was he afraid of me? Before I could register what was going on, he pulled gloves out of his coat pocket and snapped them on. Next he took out a bandage and was wrapping my hand with a quickness I didn’t know the big brute possessed. When he was done, he looked down and gasped. He stumbled back a few steps as he took in big shaky breaths, running his hands through his thick brown hair.
“Fucking hell”, he muttered.
I looked down to see what horrified him and saw a cluster of beautiful crimson flowers where the single drop of blood landed. They were truly unique. I ran my fingers over the petals, enjoying the smooth, silky texture. I wondered briefly where they came from. I knew I didn’t see them when we came in earlier. Then it dawned on me. Did that one drop of blood create these flowers? I looked up at Brutus and could see the truth in his eyes. He reached into his other pocket and produced a garden spade and a plastic bag. He tossed them over to me and told me to dig up the flowers and put them in the bag. My eyebrows furrowed down at the items at my feet. They were just flowers.
“Please Dahlia, I’ll explain later. Just dig the flowers up and put them in the bag carefully.”
I blew out a frustrated breath and cocked an eyebrow at him. This was weird, but he looked nervous and scared. I’d never seen him look like that. He kept fidgeting and darting looks from side to side. He was making me nervous. I picked up the spade and dug a small hole in the ground to completely remove the offending flowers. I opened up the plastic baggie and dropped it in. I went to give it to Brutus, and he took two steps back and held up his hands in a surrender type of motion.
“You have to carry it Dahlia, only you can touch the flowers.”
Ugh, was he being cryptic on purpose? I rolled my eyes at him as I put the baggie in my jacket pocket. “Are you going to tell me what’s going on now?” I stomped my foot on the ground as I stared up into his face.
He shook his head no. “Not here. We will talk when you get home. For now, I need to notify your parents. Let’s get going.”
He left no room for argument as he took out his phone and started making phone calls. He still forced me to walk in front of him, but every time I slowed down to look at him, he always stayed a good five feet behind me. It was like he was afraid to be close to me. I huffed out a frustrated breath as I stomped all the way back home.
As soon as I walked through the door all hell broke loose. My mother was red faced and pacing. She was gesturing wildly at my father who was sitting in his chair quietly sipping scotch from a glass tumbler. When they noticed I had arrived she started with her inquisition.
“What did you do? How many times have I told you to be more careful? Why did you even leave the house?” Mom looked like her eyes were about to bug out of her head. Her lips in a firm line as she awaited my answer tapping her foot impatiently.
I rolled my eyes. “I didn’t do anything, mom!” I waved my bandaged hand at her. “The skin on my hand got dried out, and it cracked. That’s it! One drop of blood fell to the ground, and these flowers grew out of that spot.”
I took out the bag and offered it to her. She quickly stepped back and shook her head no. Eyes wide, she didn’t stop moving till her back hit the wall. She refused to be anywhere near the flowers. This only heightened my confusion. I looked down at the wilting flowers in the bag. What was the deal with these flowers?
“What the hell is going on!?” I yelled into the room. My anger and frustration getting the best of me, as I was tired of being ignored or put off. My face heated as my eyes watered. I felt the angry tears brimming and ready to fall.
My dad was up and out of his chair. He kneeled in front of me and lightly took my hands in his. “Dahlia, look at me, and listen to what I have to tell you.”
I took a deep breath, trying to calm my raging emotions. I looked into my father’s kind eyes and instantly felt calmer. Once he sensed that I was ready, he continued.
“When you were just a toddler, maybe 20 months old, you were running around the house chasing after our dog. You weren’t watching where you were going and slammed right into the dining room table. The table was made of a thick wood that had sharp little edges and while you were okay, you had a little gash in the middle of a rather large bump on your head. There wasn’t a lot of blood. Perhaps a few drops but it was enough to fill the entire dining room floor with those red flowers.”
“At first, we were in awe of the beautiful flowers created from your blood. Shortly after the accident, our dog had ventured into the dining room and started pawing and sniffing at the flowers. He ended up eating one before we realized it and died a few hours later. We had people come in to remove the flowers and all of them ended up in the hospital. We learned very quickly that those flowers are extremely poisonous. The poison moves through the body rapidly and leaves no trace behind in their system. Doctors were never able to figure out what made the people who helped us sick, and we never told anyone that the flowers came from your blood. There was only one person outside of this house that we ever trusted with this information. He was our friend, and he didn’t know the flowers came from your blood, but we gave him the flowers to analyze. It’s been one of our biggest regrets, as he constantly hounds us for more flowers and information. He’s even gone as far as to have us followed. We fear what would happen if he or the government found out about your blood, and that you are the source of the poisonous flowers. They would turn the poison into a weapon and lock you away. You would become an experiment and they’d deem you unsafe to live amongst people. That is why we have kept you hidden and were always so careful about you getting hurt.”
I fell back onto the sofa, absorbing what he said. I couldn’t believe it, though I guess now it made sense. My parents both watched me silently, waiting for me to say something, when the door flew open and Brutus stormed in. He looked ashen and frantic.
“We missed a cluster of flowers! Another drop must’ve fallen when we were distracted on the way home. Three people are in the hospital, and he knows. He’s on his way now.”
My eyebrows drew down in confusion. I looked down at my bandaged hand and could see a red spot at the very tip of the bandage. It must’ve seeped through. Well, shit! “Now what?”