This story is one of the May Writing Challenge entries chosen to be a featured story.
She held the dress with her hands, the silky fabric whispering across the moss-covered steps. She had sown the dress for the occasion, as special as it was. The white showed the purity of her soul, the way she cared for her people, how she brought joy and grace to them. The lace symbolized the complexity of compassion to be worthy of the honor which will be given today.
She could hear the sounds of celebration up above, the flutes and violins flirting with each other as they played a joyful melody for the couples to dance to. Although the trees formed a delightful canopy, which shaded her from the hot sun, the humidity was not cast away, enveloping her in a snug embrace that kept her warm in the dying light. A gentle breeze caused the undergrowth to shiver, reminding her of years ago when the forest was much more than a habitat for small creatures.
The forest had been her playground, her fount of imagination throughout her childhood. As a girl she had dreamed of the fireflies illuminating the trees at night, showing her magical realms where only happiness lived and the depths of the soul did not haunt her. She had fallen asleep to the songs of the birds who would lead her to enchanting lands in dreams. Now, as she continued up the ancient steps, she felt the mysticism of the forest soften, as she had matured and found new magic in her adult life.
As the young woman approached the top of the stairs, leading from her family’s home to the place of celebration, she took a moment to delight in the spectacle around her. The field was decorated with lights whilst a podium, adorned with flowers, stood in the center, the townspeople joined in pairs, dancing. She searched the crowd, seeking the only face she would ever want to see. She spotted him, waiting near the stage, assuming his role until the time came.
As soon as the music slowed to a whisper of a song, the townspeople began to notice her, while the sky darkened and the fireflies joined to light up the festival. They parted from their dancing as they glided to form a half moon which connected with the stage. In their formation they looked like a family of swans, dressed in white, floating along a river. The women all adorned their hair with the petals of roses, lilies, and the other flowers which grew in the forest. The men wore belts of their lover’s flowers, but only stems and leaves.
She walked toward the stage, delighting in what she knew would soon happen. She witnessed it each year. The townspeople took flowers, whole except for their stems, and weaved them through her hair as she slowly passed. The children showered her with petals of red, white, and yellow. By the time she reached the stage, she carried more flowers than hair, though she willingly accepted its burden. As she approached the steps leading to the stage, a child took the heavy ends of her dress, walking with her.
At the other end he stood, holding a box made of knitted flowers of various colors and shades. As he neared, the child let go of her dress and, curtsying, glided from the stage. The young man opened the box, producing a flower crown so magnificent, woven with exotic flowers, their edges painted gold. He slowly walked towards her, his eyes never breaking from hers. He lifted his arms and placed the sweet crown on her head. Then, capturing her hand and cheek, kissed each.
“My May Day Queen,” he whispered as he swept her away in an alluring waltz.