To her mother, there was nothing more hopeful than seeing the flowers bloom against the unstained, worn fence that separated their land from their neighbor’s land. Every summer the dead vines sprung to life no matter how dry or wet the winter had been. They turned overnight from brown and dull to glossy green and buds formed as if conjured by magic. Her mother would walk over to the fence every morning as the sun rose to see if any had bloomed.
Moira hated the flowers. She hated how excited her mother became after seeing the first bloom. The delicate white in the center with the deepening purple, like sunsets over the ocean. The flowers mocked her, mocked her family’s life and she couldn’t see how her mother could stand it. The riot of color against their dreary fence. The only color left in the world outside the gated estate that led to the inner country where it was whispered there was still color left in the world.
The flowers weren’t signs of hope. They were jeers of conquest, a flagrant and fragrant reminder of what she and her mother could never have.
But Moira never said such things. They would break her mother’s already fragile heart.
So instead, every winter, she hacked back the vines in secret, on the nights without a moon, when the entire world was dark and she had to navigate by counting her steps from the back door to the fence.
The wind was turning and there was a coldness to the air in the morning. At the first new moon, she could no longer wait for the vines to die and she went to the fence. The still heady scent filled the air as she opened her shears to make the first cut.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”
Moira screamed and turned to find herself face to face with an old woman whom she’d never seen before, whose clothes were a swirl of colors that did not stand still.
“Do what?” Moira asked hating her quaking voice.
“Cut the morning glory.” The woman stroked one of the flowers with a hand and it glowed.
“It is often the small things, I’ve found, that create openings that we need.” The woman turned her attention back to Moira. “If we know where to look.”
“What? What opening?”
The woman patted her shoulder. “You are smart. Figure it out.” She began walking away, her shape dissolving into the night when she called back. “It’s time that the change hung on a flower. Hasn’t happened in an age.”
Moira frowned and touched her cheek. It was cold. She wasn’t dreaming. But the woman was clearly mad. No one could change the world with a flower. She turned back to the wall and raised her shears to the flower that still glowed faintly, but lowered them and brushed the flower carefully aside.
There was a crack in the fence, a knothole that had fallen out and she could see through to the other side. And the shears in her hand were forgotten as Moira began a plan that felt less like a dream and more like the glory of morning might finally rise again.