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The Flower of Forgetfulness

Once upon a time, an old man sat on a stone and grasped a stick. Wind lifted his robes. Below him was a quilt of land, rumpled here and speckled there. Somewhere down in those plains was his home. But he could not remember where.

And so he sat here.

The old man’s feet ached. They had carried him up to this rock, where the air was thin and the grass was short. Here, on the mountain, where he could see the whole world. He just couldn’t remember what parts of the world were important anymore.

“You have sat here a long time.” The voice creaked like an old door. The old man did not flinch. He looked over.

Standing before him was the Dragon of Time. It was crimson and enormous, yet the details of its face were minuscule like a mosaic. It perched on all fours and glowed with a grey aura. Numbers dripped from its eyes like tears.

“I have,” said the man.

“And?” said the Dragon.

“And the rock is kind. And the breeze is gentle.”

“Yet you belong somewhere else. Still you do not move.”

“Still I do not move.”

“Why?” said the Dragon.

“I cannot remember where I live.”

The Dragon was silent.

“I cannot remember how to get home, for I do not know where home is.”

“Sitting still in time does not slow it,” said the Dragon. Its collar, a rope of gold, swung in front of its chest like a pendulum. “Soon it will be dark. And dark is no place for an old man to be.”

“What else am I to do?” said the old man.

A growl reared inside the belly of the beast. Its white whiskers trembled. But the fire that blazed in its eyes passed. And it looked upon the old man with pity.

“I, the Dragon of Time, will help you remember.”

With one giant claw, it swiped against the hard dirt. Like magic, a single yellow flower sprang from the earth. The old man leaned closer and clenched his staff. With its giant teeth, the Dragon plucked it.

He laid it upon the man’s lap.

“That is a nice flower,” said the man.

“This is the flower of remembrance.”

The old man picked up the flower and inspected.

“Of remembrance, you say?”

“The flower of remembrance,” the Dragon repeated what the old man forgot, almost ironically.

Its petals were soft running along the man’s withered thumb.

“Pick a single petal from the flower, and put it into your shoe. It will tell your feet the way.”

“Thank you, lord,” the old man replied.

“But a word of caution. Guard the petals against the wind. If you let it blow into the wind and tumble from the mountain, you never will remember.”

The Dragon of Time left.

For many long minutes, the old man gazed at the flower. He pinched one petal between his fingers, but something stopped him when he was about to pluck.

The old man looked around him, and thought about the joys of what was near. He thought of the many people who have sobbed into the midnight chorus of rustling leaves and groaning oak. He thought of the horrors done to man, by man. And he thought of the horrors he had done in return.

Why need we remember when it conflicts with what we feel?

Sun knelt below the trees on the horizon. Dark gathered.

The old man closed his eyes, drew in breath. And then he plucked the petals.

One.

Two.

Three.

Every petal. A gust of wind shouldered by him and furled up his clothes once more.

They carried each and every petal down the mountain. The old man watched as they wriggled away into the dusk.

He smiled.

And the rock was kind. And the breeze was gentle.

Soldiers of RFCP. All of us have said things behind closed doors we regret.

I forgive you.

If you wish for me to forget, PM me a photo of your favorite flower. I will reply, “That is a nice flower.” And I will remember the offense no more. You are loved here.

If you wish to leave, send me no flower, and go in peace.

I furthermore hereby command that Sergeant Lucky Quinn create and curate a group chat within RFPC that does not include my access, with the purpose of letting off steam and discussing me or whatever else is of concern. Included in this order is the demand that Lucky himself answer to me and let me know if anyone is in true need.

If there is any insurrection or plotting politically or personally, there will be an immediate ban.

I have felt this way about the Feddies:

I ought to cancel your Spring Fling.

But I realized I prefer to do this instead.

-Commander Prior

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