In the forest there is a glen. In the glen there is grass and trees and dirt and earthworms and flowers.
Iris is a flower.
One day, she discovers that the ground is hurting her. Her roots are burning. So she pulls them up. The dirt is hurting her. The grass is hurting her.
She pulls her roots up. She pulls up her stalk. She spreads her petals and jumps and she catches the wind, and off she floats away.
The stars say to her at night, “We have lost one of our own.”
“I lost the ground,” she says.
“We have lost one of our own,” say the stars.
She drifts on.
It is hungry, being a flower in the sky. There is no soil to draw nutrients from. She must feed on clouds and the dirt in the wind. It is a lean time. But one day she finds a bag of plant fertilizer that drifts in the wind like she does.
“Did the fertilizer store burn you?” she asks, but bags of plant fertilizer can’t talk.
So she drifts to it, and buries her roots in it, and drifts on.
The wind says to her, one day, “There is a prince who is my son, and he has lost his love. She was stolen away. The chariot is taking her east of the sun and west of the moon, to the palace of a witch.”
“I miss my family,” Iris says.
“Then go back,” the wind suggests.
“The ground hurts,” Iris says.
She drifts on.
After a while, she finds a bathtub in the sky. She’s not very strong, but she’s determined. She empties the fertilizer into the bathtub. She adds dirt collected from the wind and opens the drain just enough that the soil doesn’t get waterlogged in the rain. She catches a picture of a forest that blows past, and in this carriage and with this comfort she rides high above the world.
An angel sits on the edge of the bathtub for a while. He’s wearing a jacket. It’s got holes for his wings. Hair flops in his eyes.
“The ground burns me,” says Iris.
The angel brushes her petals with a gentle hand. “I know what that’s like,” he says.
“That’s why I fly around in a bathtub.”
The angel nods.
“I liked the ground,” Iris says. “I mean, I liked it.”
“If you wish hard enough,” the angel says, “then you can go home.”
“How do you know?”
“I know,” the angel says.
Iris sighs. “I can’t,” she says. “I can’t wish that hard. I’m not that strong.”
The angel nods again. His wings beat, gently. He takes flight.
Iris floats on for a while. Below her, there’s a glinting in the ocean. That night, she calls to the stars, “I think it’s there.”
“We’ve lost one of our own,” say the stars.
“I think he’s there. I think she’s there. I think it’s there,” cries Iris.
There’s a tumult in the heavens. Then a silence. Then a stirring and a rising in the sea.
“We are whole,” say the stars.
Sometimes it rains very hard and lightning strikes the showerpole of the bathtub. Iris does not mind. It is invigorating.
Below her, one day, she sees a princess, in a chariot driven hard, east of the sun and west of the moon.
“Is that her?” she asks the wind.
“Your son’s true love?”
The wind fades out. The bathtub stops with a jarring halt, and falls nearly fifty yards before the wind is back.
“Thank you,” says the wind.
One day the angel comes to sit on the tub again.
“You could go home,” he says.
“I wish I could.”
“I know what it takes,” the angel says. “To help you. To help me. I’m just not very good at doing it. But you could go home. Just because the ground burned you once doesn’t mean it’ll burn you forever. Can’t you believe me?”
“One day I will,” says Iris. “One day I’ll believe you. One day something will happen, something will change, and then I can wish hard enough to find my way home.”
“Promise?” asks the angel.
“I don’t have any pinkies,” says Iris.
The angel smiles. Then he’s aloft again.
“I wish for you that ‘one day’ is soon.”