hiking boot tramples a violet, apologizes, and then has the naivete to think that is an end of the matter, but the violet tells the boot that wrongs are not so easily forgotten.
Dear Hiking Boot,
Thank you for your kind letter apologizing for stepping on me. On behalf of all violets that have been stepped on before, I can’t tell you what the gesture means to me. In many ways, I’m a very fortunate violet because many other fellow flowers get regularly trampled, with nary a “Pardon me.” Recognizing your actions is already more than many can hope for, so I want to make sure that you understand how much I value your apology and that the sincerity of it comes through in every word.
However, I’m at a bit of a loss with the end of your letter. You said that with your apology you hoped everything would be put to rights between us and that if not, I should let you know. Again, this points to how sensitive a boot you are (especially for a hiking boot). The sentiment is lovely, but, I fear, useless. I don’t mean to rile you up or make you feel that your olive branch has been thrown on the ground and smashed. It’s just that there is no way to go back and undo what’s been done. You wrote “I pray my letter fixes this little issue we’ve had between us.” But how can it?
The fact is, you stepped on me, and your thoughtful words cannot change the fact that four out of my six petals are no longer all violet, but have brownish marks on them that match your sole pattern. I can accept your apology — and I have — but what am I to do about the unalterable reality that your actions had an impact on me that words cannot undo? I cannot forget you did this, not just because of the physical evidence, but also because of the emotional one, so how am I supposed to tell you that it’s all forgotten?
I want to tell you that, for your sake and mine. I love boots, I love seeing you traipse by on happy feet climbing the beautiful hills of the mountain I live on. But you see, I’d have to lie. I’d have to pretend that now, every time a boot comes near me, I don’t immediately think of the time you stepped on me. I’d have to pretend that every time I’m a little disappointed by your actions (like not staying on the clearly marked path) I’m not immediately brought back to the precedent we’ve set, that time you stepped on me. I’d have to pretend I can erase something that is not erasable — it’s simply part of our relationship now.
It’s really rather frustrating. It would be lovely if I could simply tell myself, “Begone, memory!” I don’t like having that bad recollection of you. If I could, I’d choose to only have untarnished, positive thoughts about you because our interactions have been so overwhelmingly positive. The cruel thing is that, because we’ve always got on so well, this one blemish stands out all the more when I wish it would simply disappear! It’s a bright red poppy in a sea of bluebells. Oh, I wish it were a hyacinth, instead! Then it would barely stand out.
Forgive my lapse into wishful, flowery, thinking, and let me bring this upsetting letter to an end. There isn’t much left for me to say except that we are at an impasse. I cannot forget what you did and you cannot undo it. We must both live with this new burden, this awareness of a time things did not go smoothly between us. The most we can do is share the weight of this experience to make it lighter on the other.
I accept your apology, in other words, but besides saying the right words there is nothing else you can do. In a sense, this will never be fixed between us, I’m sad to say. We’ll both just have to work hard to accumulate so many good experiences that this red poppy becomes so insignificant in the valley of bluebells that, in the end, it’s like it never existed.
Here’s to hoping this will happen.
The Violet You Trampled