Alaina Malone, Staff Reporter

When I was about 4 years old I moved to Keller, Texas, a division of Fort Worth. My house was tan and light green on the outside and brick on the inside. It smelled like vanilla candles. We bought a big couch that was squishy and comfortable. I would jump from one cushion to the next in the afternoons when I was left home alone because my parents worked until 5:30. I would break a sweat running around my medium sized house. But some days, when I got tired of playing in the house, I would walk to the park at the end of my street. It was five minute walk, and on nice days the breeze made it cool enough and the air smelled sweet like flowers planted in beds lined along the sidewalk.

Even if it was scorching hot outside,my little legs carry me to the park at the end of the street. The air tasted like begonias.

Over a low hill, I would begin to see small puffs of yellow and orange stretching out. As I grew closer and eventually got over the hill, I could see a sunflower field that stretched for miles. Each flower grew up to be even taller than I was. The tops were round as saucers and large enough to produce shade for any passer-byer.

Once I walked between the shady flowers my sweat would begin to dry and the breeze felt as cool as could be. My hair was flown in all directions. I would close my eyes and imagine there was nothing else around me but sunflowers. They protected my youth and my dreams and made me feel nothing but bliss.

Other flowers were caught up in the mix, much smaller and smaller. They provided perfume for my walks. The only difference between perfume and their scent was that the flowers never gave me a headache and I never grew tired of sniffing them.

I spent many summers walking along the sunflower trail in awe of the one place that made me feel alone, but not lonely.

One day after school, I ran into the house to drop off my things so that I could go on my walk. My mom was home from work early and I guess she’d gone by the park to see if I was there. Instead of seeing me she discovered that in order to make room for new houses to be built, the sunflowers were mowed to the ground.

I felt sort of defeated when my plants, really, my playspace, was mowed down. It seemed like the universe was taking something away from me in some way.

As my childhood went on, it seemed the two events went hand in hand. One day I was young and protected, the next I was abruptly grown up and exposed to the world. That’s what growing up has taught me: you can’t prevent it and it’s inevitable. One might as well adjust and deal with the issue up front. But on the worst days, I try to remember how I felt walking alone through my path of sunflowers.