Isaac liked sunflowers. They were normally the most cheerful flowers in the garden. Sometimes in the summer he went out at twilight and chatted with them as they were settling in for the night. Trying to talk to them any earlier was overwhelming. They would all talk at once really, really loudly.
One evening, Isaac wandered around the garden listening to the murmurs of the sleepy plants. Marianne and Charlie were inside making charts and detailed plans for the garden as fall approached. Isaac smiled and passed the ears of corn still young enough to fall asleep much earlier than the rest of the garden around them.
Once he was past the corn, he could see the cluster of sunflowers at the end of the garden. They waved happily as a breeze rustled the leaves. As soon as they saw him coming, they shouted out greetings and news that they couldn’t wait to share.
“Hello friend, isn’t it a beautiful evening?”
“Wasn’t the sun warm today?”
“I think I will be tall enough to touch the sky tomorrow. Wait and see!”
“Welcome to our garden! Welcome!”
As he came closer, Isaac realized that there was something different this time. One of the sunflowers was drooping, face looking down and leaves limp. Was it feeling sick?
He hurried over and crouched in front of the sunflower. “What’s wrong?”
The other sunflowers answered instead.
“She looks sad.”
“I don’t think she’s sick. The water was sweet today.”
“The water is always sweet. The sun is bright. Life is good.”
Isaac waited. A breeze blew through the yard again, and the sunflower shuddered. “There’s only one sun,” the sunflower whispered at last.
“I thought that if I kept growing, that eventually I’d reach high enough and shine bright enough to become the sun. But there’s only one sun and many sunflowers. I don’t think we grow to become the sun after all.”
The other sunflowers stilled, despite the breeze.
“We don’t become the sun?”
“Maybe there’s only one because we take turns?”
“I think there’s only one because the tallest sunflower is the sun.”
“Do we become stars instead? I don’t know if I’d like that.”
How unexpected. Isaac wasn’t sure how to respond. “From what I’ve seen, the sun and sunflowers aren’t the same. Sunflowers start small and grow, and then eventually they grow old and return to the earth. Through it all, the sun shines down unchanging.”
The drooping sunflower bent further under the weight of his words.
Isaac leaned forward and lifted the flower’s head. “There are many things I don’t know and cannot see. I know there is a special connection between sunflowers and the sun. I have no idea what happens to sunflowers after they return to the earth. Perhaps all the sun energy that they store is returned to the sun and becomes part of it.”
The flower perked up a little. “We all become the sun? Together?”
Isaac shrugged and pulled his hand back once the sunflower was supporting its own weight. “I don’t know. I’m not an expert.”
The sunflowers chattered excitedly.
“We’ll all be the sun together.”
“I already feel a little taller.”
“Do I look like I’m shining?”
The little flower was nearly standing straight and tall again. Isaac smiled and stood up. “Who wants a drink of water?”
Isaac chuckled and left to retrieve the watering can. Crisis solved.