“Lavender Valley” – A Student’s Short Story

The following short story was written by one of our students at LiHigh School. The assignment asked for a short story that takes place in an historic setting. We hope you enjoy the story, and please, feel free to leave a piece of constructive criticism that will help our student take the story to the next level.

Lavender Valley - Hood River, OR

Photo by Brian Brewer

I sit in Lavender Valley as the wind starts making ripples like waves over the tall grass. The sky over my head painted black with sparks of white that pop and crackle. I could stay here forever, feeling the warmth of Mother Nature cushion my body.

My delicate bones are frail. My hands are covered with veins that grow out to the ends of my fingertips like roots. I am an old stump now, slowly disappearing into the ground. I have lived a life filled with drops of sadness and happiness that have now created a puddle representing who I am.

Life is not fair, that’s what I’ve learned. I’ve also learned that happiness comes and goes just like sadness. I am a black woman and am judged by just being that. I have seen the most horrible and disgusting things human beings can do to other human beings.

I have lived in this one valley my whole life and have seen all sorts, more than most. I spent most of my days in the fields, laying and daydreaming. Lavender relaxes every bone in my body, the smell as sweet as sunshine. Lavender can make any mean, old man kind. It is the secret happiness in the world. Except ain’t nobody willing to find it.

As a young child I had an older brother who wanted to see the world. He always talked of all the different places he wanted to visit and how he wanted to see change in these awful times. Lavender was his way of healing people. He loved every little thing about the plant. He told me if he could live in a dream it would be in a lavender field with all the people he loved, silly happy from the sweet, little magic plant.

He would often go into our town, the town of Louisville, Kentucky and march for peace. He told me that violence is not the way into people’s hearts. Violence is for people who don’t know better. I respected my brother in every which way. He was my hero.

I remember the first time he brought me on one of those peace marches. We brought lavender with us to calm people and truly make the peace march peaceful. We brought a bag full and handed a lavender leaf to each man, woman, and child. One sniff and their eyes closed as if they be dreaming. It brought a smile upon my face because it felt as though I was helping in this movement of change. We marched for hours, singing the songs of the lord. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever been a part of.

The most awful thing happened later on though. It’s bringing tears to my eyes just thinking back on it.

My brother, he being peaceful and all, meant no harm towards nobody, but when one of them white police officers struck a young girl, I had looked in his eyes and could feel the fire burning rage inside of him. He looked as though he might just well explode at any moment.

It all happened so fast. He marched right up to that police officer and told the man to leave that poor girl alone. The police officer called upon the other police officers and asked in the most evil voice, “What you gonna do about it nigger?”My brother took the young girl and walked away. The policemen walked right on towards my brother and out of nowhere started beating the living day lights out of him.

I screamed. I didn’t know what to do.

Everyone looked upon my brother and all of a sudden they all started beating each other. A riot had begun. I ran right on out of there and hid under the oak tree behind Joe’s General Store. I cried and I cried, not knowing what I should do. Nobody was gonna help a young black girl.

It was starting to get dark so I went back to where my brother was last and saw him dead on the pavement, bleeding from every part of his body. Right then and there I knew that my life would be forever changed.

After my brother’s funeral, my daddy and I kept quiet amongst ourselves for a long while. My father always was a quiet, peaceful man but after his only son passed away, he never spoke a single word after that.

I knew I had to do something to make things better. My brother had always said lavender fixed everything so I decided I would take on his ways and use lavender for the greater good. I started my very on lavender shop, selling all sorts of lavender goods in the town of Louisville. You wouldn’t think such a thing as lavender would have such a grand effect on people but I swear everyone, black and white, started to get along better. Maybe it wasn’t the lavender, maybe it was something else, but I believe that this herb is sent straight from god; everyone wants a bit of the magic. I get customers telling me that lavender helps them stay in a relaxed state of mind, which makes life easier.

I’m always getting lost in the aromas of Lavender Valley, letting the terrible and lovely thoughts in my mind linger in the sweet breeze. I am now sixty years old, still lying in the same Lavender Valley, where all my worries have seeped into the soil.

I’ve helped many with this miracle herb by letting it relax them and keep them in a peaceful mind. Sometimes the only thing you can do in life is share what little magic we have left in this world and hope that tomorrow will be a brighter day.

Author: Kyle Callahan

Hi, I'm Kyle. I'm an advisor at LiHigh School. I've been involved in progressive education since I was in high school. I was an original member (and student representative) of the Progressive Program at Green Mountain College, and for my Master's degree, I attended Goddard College, which started the trend toward progressive education in the 1960s. Along with teaching at LiHigh School, I teach courses in creative writing and communications at Green Mountain College. I live with my wife and daughter in Poultney.

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