The Lotus Flower

Shutterstock / goldenfish_27 © Abstract background with lotus, lotus flower on water.


Precious time together brings a moment of realisation – and thoughts of new beginnings…

He won’t be coming tonight. He’d packed his bags and was off first thing this morning.

As I sit on the bar stool watching holiday makers strolling in for their pre-dinner drinks my mind still sees him striding towards the bar, how our eyes had locked and my heart begun to thump uncontrollably.

I should be feeling happy, on top of the world. I’m in my dream location, as a holiday rep escorting groups on tours of Japan.

I’m here again for the whole season. Spring through to autumn. Cherry blossom when trees are ablaze with colour, then the rich aroma of the lotus flowers as they emerge on lakes and ponds, right through to autumn when maple trees take on their fiery splendour.

It’s a lovely hotel right on Tokyo’s sea front. The group I am looking after are pleasant and enthusiastic. Yet, this evening I cannot shake off the gloom that is overwhelming me. I must pull myself together. Remember the joyful two weeks when he was here.

The first outing for that group was to a typical Japanese garden where I led them along the winding paths beneath perfectly manicured trees, pausing to take in a gushing waterfall, then follow its route as it rippled and gurgled over shiny smooth pebbles and under tiny bridges. I had to be careful not to let my eyes veer towards him and distract me from my guests. He didn’t make it easy for me as his eyes rarely left me.

When he took my hand to steady me on stepping stones across a lake it was warm and reassuring.

Then on to the bonsai garden with those miniature trees, unique in their shape and so beautifully sculptured, so perfect in their form.

We did manage some time together alone. Stolen moments in the hotel bar and on my days off when we could escape from the hotel and the prying eyes of the other guests.

The day we visited the Arashiyama bamboo forest will be forever etched on my mind. Sunlight filtered through the towering stalks, burnishing them in a golden glow and dappling the path before us. I was in a different world. A world where we were alone together.

On my next day off we took the bullet train to Kyoto. What an experience. So streamlined, clean and smart. The thrill as it edged round the mountainous interior at breath-taking speed.

After breaking away from the group for a brief moment in the grounds of a magnificent Buddhist temple the following day we discovered it. Our first glimpse of the lotus flower.

Having emerged from the murky depths of a disused and overgrown pond, there it sat in all its glorious, pink vibrancy. Seen from the opposite side of the pond with the light behind it, the transparent quality of its petals was awesome. My throat tightened at its delicacy and beauty.

“The first of the season,” I murmured softly. I felt his arm slip round my shoulder and pull me close.

“A sign of spiritual awakening, enlightenment,” his whispered in my ear.

And I felt it in my very soul.

Walking back to join the group he stopped and turned to me, took both my hands in his, his eyes holding mine.

“Marie, we can’t go on like this.”

It was later he told me the truth. He had not won the lottery as he had led me to believe. He’d sold his car to pay for this holiday.

I gasped in horror. A vintage model he’d owned all the time I’d known him. Barely functional now but his pride and joy. Sprucing it up to take to shows and rallies. And now it was gone. He had been missing me this much.

I slept little that night, my mind in turmoil. The following day was to be our wedding anniversary. Ten years together. Yet not much of it together at all. Most of it with me in some far off land. He had never complained. Had always been there to welcome me home with open arms. This time he was determined we would celebrate our anniversary together.

Parting had always been hard. As it had been today when I kissed him goodbye.

So hard that last night, as I lay in bed, I made my decision. This will be the last time we will be parted. I will give up the job I love for the man I love.

There are still months to go before I will be home. Summer will pass into autumn and my groups of holiday makers will come and go.

My heart is full. A new life is about to begin. And I will be taking into it many lasting memories of this magical land.

One in particular. The lotus flower. One perfect pink flower. Emerging from the murky water of an abandoned pond. A symbol of enlightenment, spiritual awaking.

And its magic had worked on me.

Read more uplifting short stories:

Read A Dog Changes Everything, Old Friends, Curtains Up, plus many more in our archives.

Georgia Grieve