Beaumont and the Moonflower

by Michael Bazzett

Beaumont lived alone beneath the sea, in a small cave that was really just a broken jug, and his joy in life was his garden. He rose early to tend it, wrapping himself in his silk bathrobe to ward off the chill. Then he drifted among his growing things, whispering secrets and stroking each of them, eight times.

You see, Beaumont was an octopus.

The coral in his garden branched liked trees, it spread fans made of lace, and it squatted in the dark, like a brain. The seaweed swirled its green hair. The kelp pointed toward the light. And there were flowers. Strange underwater flowers. In the center of the garden stood the weirdest and most wonderful of all – the flower that had no name.

Every morning Beaumont clipped some blossoms – but never from the nameless flower --and then slouched from the sea to sell his bouquets to the people of the human world. He loved to charm the women of the village at the market.

“Like good wine or a kind word,” he murmured, one tentacle draped across a shoulder. “Flowers bring things to life."

"Oh Beaumont," the women would say, giggling.

“But it’s true, my sweet. Flowers are better than a pinch –” and here he would tweak them on the cheek, “—of salt. A bouquet on the table deepens the flavors.”

When the market closed, Beaumont would visit his friends, Old Peter, the fisherman, and his wife Clothilde, in their little house by the sea.

Beaumont puffed his pipe. Old Peter mended his nets. Clothilde held her knitting in her lap and dreamed of a baby.

“Who knows what tomorrow will bring,” Beaumont would say, when he finally rose to leave.

“The sea is full of riches,” agreed Old Peter.

Beaumont retreated to his jug, where he clinked the coins he earned from selling his flowers into a rusted can. He never counted them. He just settled in for the evening, his tentacles swaying in the current as he contemplated the nameless flower.

On some nights, it almost seemed to glow in the dusky light.

One morning, Beaumont awoke to find the mystery flower had grown a new bud.

Days passed. The bud grew bigger. The rusty can grew heavy with coins. As the bud swelled, it strained the seams of its green jacket, revealing a glimpse of pink inside.

The evening it seemed ready to burst, Beaumont held a vigil.

“I’m holding vigil,” he announced and went outside with his pipe.

The moon rose above the sea, slanting beams down through the silver water. The moonlight reached the bud and kissed it, gently. The bud opened, tender and pink, and Beaumont gasped. For at its center was not a blossom, but a baby.

Ten fingertips peeked out from the green leaves, followed by a chubby body. The water baby curved his back and darted through the sea, naked as a dolphin. He paused to glance back at Beaumont. His curly hair moved like moss underwater. Then, with a kick, he was gone.

“Wait,” Beaumont cried.

He tried to follow. But it was no use. He could only return to his cave and wonder. Who would take care of the little fellow? Who would take care of him, alone in the sea?

The next morning, Beaumont pondered the empty flower stalk and the petals scattered beneath. Then, with a decisive flick of his tentacle, he plucked one up, and tucked it into the center of a bouquet, where it shimmered pink.

The women of the village cried out with delight when they saw it.

“It’s from a Moonflower,” murmured Beaumont, naming the blossom for the first time.

“I’ll take it,” said a quiet voice.

The flock of women turned to see Old Peter behind them, holding a single coin in his hand.

Beaumont nodded.

“It’s Clothilde’s birthday,” whispered Old Peter.

And Beaumont smiled.

Old Peter surprised her with a picnic. He had a table waiting at the edge of the sea, covered in a white cloth, graced with Beaumont’s bouquet.

“How lovely,” said Clothilde, leaning forward to smell the flowers.

She lifted the pink petal from the vase, and heard a soft splash. She turned to see a dark-eyed dolphin nosing toward water’s edge.

But it was not a dolphin. It was the water baby, bobbing in the sea, laughing.

Clothilde gestured to him with the petal, and he grew quiet.

She waved it toward him, fluttering pink, and he swam near.

When she tucked the petal into her apron, the water baby clambered out and curled into her lap, where she held him snug as the bud of a Moonflower.

“This is the only gift I wanted,” said Clothilde, her eyes glistening.

“Beaumont was right,” said Old Peter. “Flowers bring things to life.”

A pair of eyes watched them, just off shore, and Beaumont smiled as the old couple held their child.

“Who knows what tomorrow will bring,” he said, as he slipped beneath the waves. He nestled into his jug and contemplated his rusted can of coins. He thought how surprised Old Peter would be when he drew it from the sea in his fishing net.

"Yes," smiled Beaumont. “The sea is full of riches.”


About the author...

Michael Bazzett has published widely in the small press, and his novel for young readers, Marley Barbeau, was recently excerpted at Hunger Mountain. His poems have appeared in Best New Poets 2008 and The National Poetry Review, among others, and new work is forthcoming in Tongues of the Ocean, West Branch, and The Los Angeles Review.

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About Anansesem

Anansesem is an online magazine of Caribbean children's and young adult literature by adults and children. We strive to bring you the best in news, reviews and creative content from the world of Caribbean children's publishing.
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