Chaos’s shoulders hung in dejection. She kept wiping her tears away with the back of her hand. Her lip quivered as she tried to quiet her sobs. Her small feet dragged on the ground as she walked. It was the day of spring’s awakening, her favorite day. But it had not gone at all how she imagined.
Four little girls stood in the grassy valley, surveying the land in front of them. Hundreds of white flowers dotted the land, breaking up the sea of green that surrounded them. The flowers had bloomed and now were awaiting to be colored for the spring season. The task of coloring the flowers had been given to Perfection, Beauty, Patience, and Chaos. Each girl possessed a certain aesthetic. All the girls had graceful, ideal features like those in a perfectly painted portrait. All except for Chaos. Chaos’s characteristics were more of a wild elegance, like the feeling of dancing in the rain barefoot.
Perfection’s features matched her name. She had light blonde hair that gently curled at the ends. Her cheeks always seemed to be rosy, and her eyes were bright but sharp like jadestone.
Beauty also lived up to her name, with silky brown hair that fell to her waist. Her eyes were a striking shade of blue, and a few light freckles were sprinkled across the bridge of her perfect button nose.
Patience’s features were not as defined or sharp like Perfection’s or Beauty’s. Her eyes were honey-colored and shaped like almonds. Her dark hair hung slightly past her shoulders in braids. And her countenance often held neutral expressions, making it hard to guess any of her internal thoughts or feelings.
However, Chaos’s beauty differed greatly from the rest of the group. She had dark brown hair like Beauty, but instead of falling sleek and straight down her back, Chaos’s hair curled into bouncy ringlets. Her skin tone was fair like Perfection’s, but Chaos’s skin was sun-kissed and freckled. And instead of Patience’s calm and focused stare, Chaos’s eyes were always wide and curious, darting this way and that as she took in her surroundings.
“Well, how should we start?” Beauty asked.
“Maybe we should decide on the colors first,” Patience suggested.
“I think we should leave them just like this,” Perfection said. She turned her eyes toward her friends to see if anyone would challenge her.
“We can’t do that!” Chaos offered up her opinion readily.
“Why not?” Perfection crossed her arms. “White is such a simple color. It just looks better.”
“But spring is the season meant for colors!” Chaos stated. “It would be so boring if everything was plain white.”
“I think Chaos is right,” Patience said. “Winter is ending. There’s been enough white from all the snow. It’s time for some colors.” Perfection let out a heavy sigh in response.
“I think we should make them pink!” Beauty said. “Wait! No, they should be purple. Or even better: pink and purple!” She was practically bouncing up and down at the thought of her idea.
“But what if not everyone likes pink and purple?” Patience asked.
“Oh.” Beauty’s bouncing stopped. “I guess I didn’t think of that.” Her shoulders sagged as if she were a deflating balloon.
“Maybe we can still do pink and purple,” Chaos began. “But we can do other colors too!”
Beauty seemed to reinflate. “I like that idea!” she said.
And so, the girls began their task of bringing spring to the flowers. First, Patience’s job was to gently coax any flower buds to open into full bloom. Then, Perfection would examine each flower and fix any imperfection. If the flower was wilting, she could touch the petals and make them perfect again. After that, Beauty and Chaos would follow behind her and give the flowers their color. Everything seemed to be going smoothly at first.
“Pink for you! And pink for you! And pink for you—" Beauty’s hand hovered over the flower. “Mm, purple for you, actually.” She lightly tapped the flower’s petals and watched the color wash over the flower. “And pink, pink, pink, purple, pink, purple.” She continued on her way, leaving a trail of purple and pink flowers in her wake.
Chaos trailed behind Beauty and acted as a balancing force. She mixed some orange, blue, yellow, and red flowers in with Beauty’s pink and purple. At first, Chaos was happy to help Beauty color the flowers, but after an hour or so the task felt tiresome. Beauty continued skipping through the flowers while Chaos lowered herself to the ground for a break.
She rolled herself onto her side and pulled her knees up to her chest.
A small break wouldn’t hurt, she thought. I’ll just lay here for a minute or two. Her eyelids already felt heavy, and the sun felt like a blanket of warmth on her skin. The slight rustling of the flowers from the breeze lulled her to sleep.
“Chaos?” Patience called out. “Chaos!” Patience roamed around the valley, searching. She had noticed an abundance of pink and purple flowers, which alerted her to Chaos’s absence. “Chaos.” Patience now stood over the sleeping figure. “We’re not finished yet, so you need to wake up.” She reached down and gently shook Chaos awake.
“Ahh!” Chaos yelled as she jolted back in response to Patience’s touch.
“We’re supposed to be finished by sundown,” Patience said.
“I only lay down for a minute.” Chaos rubbed the sleep out of her eyes. Patience cocked her head to the side. “Okay,” Chaos sighed. “I’ll get back to work.” Chaos stood and began brushing the dirt from herself. Satisfied, Patience trotted away to resume her duties.
As Chaos bent over to brush the earth from her legs, something in the dirt caught her eye. Her hands grasped the novelty. It rested in her palm as she examined it. It was a flower, but it was not like Beauty’s flowers, or even the flowers that she herself had colored.
This flower was limp, probably a result of Chaos crushing it with her hand when Patience startled her. But it was not the state of the flower that set it apart. It was the color. Whereas all the other colored flowers in the meadow were monochromatic, this flower’s petals were multicolored. It was as if colors had dripped onto the flower, with each color blending into the next. Reds and blues turned into yellows and oranges. It was a delightful mess.
Chaos’s eyes grew as she examined her creation, enamored. She looked around at the remaining white flowers. What would it look like if she colored all the flowers like this?
Once the idea settled in her head, she was determined to accomplish it. She tucked her flower behind her ear and set off to transform the valley into a sea of color. Chaos spread out her arms and let her fingers touch every flower she could reach. This time not only did the color change, but the size and shape did too. Some flowers grew twice as large. Others shrank smaller. Some multiplied their number of petals while others changed the shape of their petals.
Chaos laughed as she ran through the valley, creating kaleidoscopic flowers through the touch of her fingers. With no pattern or direction in mind, Chaos ran wherever her feet took her. Her hair flew wildly as she ran and let out squeals of enjoyment.
She spotted the rest of the girls at the top of one of the hills. They all looked out over the valley in disbelief. Chaos was sure they would feel as ecstatic about the new flowers as she did. As she made her way up to them, her face was beaming with pride.
“So,” Chaos began. “What do you think?” Her smile stretched from ear to ear.
“What did you do?” Perfection murmured.
“I don’t know!” Chaos chimed in. “I don’t know how it happened! I guess I was just feeling so happy and free that—”
“You ruined it,” Beauty whispered at first.
“What?” Chaos asked. A sinking feeling began developing within her. “No, I didn’t—”
“You ruined all of it!” Beauty choked. Her head snapped toward Chaos.
“I don’t know if we can fix it,” Patience mumbled. “Chaos, what happened?”
“I—” The words got caught in her throat. “I thought you might like it.” Chaos heard her voice start to shake. “I thought it was pretty.” She glanced back over her shoulder at the valley. Her creation was beautiful to her. It was special. It was different. It was like her.
“Maybe Beauty can go back and change the flowers back to white,” Perfection thought aloud. “We’ll have to start over, but it might work.”
“Okay,” Chaos agreed. “And I can help Beauty—”
“No, Chaos,” Perfection snapped. “You can’t help us anymore.” She looked at Chaos with searing eyes.
“I think Perfection’s right,” Beauty stated plainly. “You really messed things up, Chaos.” She gave Chaos a pitying look.
“Like you always do,” Perfection mumbled under her breath.
“Hey!” Patience interjected. She shot Perfection a disapproving look. “Chaos, I—”
“I didn’t mean to—” Chaos started. “It was an accident at first.”
“It’ll just be easier without you,” Perfection said. She spun around and started down the hill. Her gold hair whipped behind her. Chaos felt her throat becoming thick.
“I know you didn’t mean it.” Beauty looked Chaos in the eyes. “But this is for the best.” She turned and started in the same direction that Perfection had gone. Chaos lowered her gaze and stared at the ground. Her vision grew blurry as tears started gathering in her eyes.
“They’re right,” Chaos said as a tear ran down her cheek. “All I do is mess everything up.” She looked up at Patience. “Please tell them I’m sorry.” Her lower lip began to wobble, and she felt a sob rising in her throat. Chaos turned away before the girls could see the tears running down her cheeks.
Patience watched as Chaos trekked away from the valley. Her head hung low, and the usual bounce in her step was gone. Patience let out a long sigh then headed down the hill into the valley to find Beauty and Perfection.
“Hey, guys!” Patience shouted. Both Perfection and Beauty looked back at her. “It was mean to treat Chaos the way you did.”
“But she made a really big mess,” Beauty said.
“And now we have to fix it all,” Perfection said.
“Have you guys actually looked at what she made?” Patience asked. “Go ahead, turn around and look. It’s actually pretty awesome.”
Beauty and Perfection turned their heads to look at the valley. And the sight was mesmerizing. There were flowers of all kinds and colors. They covered the valley entirely. The vibrant colors brought the valley to life in a way that it had never been before. As they continued looking, they could not deny it: the new valley flowers were enchanting.
“They’re different,” Beauty remarked. “But like a good different, I guess.”
“This isn’t how the valley usually looks,” Perfection said. “But I think this might look even better, maybe.” She let out a sigh. “I shouldn’t have yelled at Chaos.”
“A little apology goes a long way,” Patience said as she shot a big smile at Perfection. Then they all began climbing back up the hill to find Chaos. She had not gotten far. She was halfway down the other side of the hill, still wiping away tears.
“Chaos,” Perfection started. “I’m sorry that I got mad at you. Your flowers are actually really pretty.”
“I’m sorry too,” Beauty joined in. “I think I was just upset that you went over my pink and purple flowers.”
“I probably should have asked you all before I changed all the valley flowers.” Chaos sniffled. “I just got excited.”
“But it’s all okay now,” Patience said. “And you don’t mess everything up, Chaos. You shake things up, but it’s in a good way!” Chaos smiled as she looked around at her friends.
“C’mon. If we hurry, we can watch the sunset over the valley,” Perfection said.
The four girls ran up to the top of the hill. They sat in the grass and watched as the sun started to sink into the horizon.
“I think we need a new name for this valley now,” Patience said. “It’s too special to just be ‘the valley’ anymore.”
“We could call it the Unique Valley?” Beauty offered.
“Or the Imperfect Variety Valley,” Perfection spoke up.
“Mm. What about Chaotic Valley?” Patience said.
“That’s perfect!” Beauty shouted.
“I like it!” Perfection agreed.
“Me too!” Chaos was beaming. For the first time she did not feel ashamed of her gift. As she looked out over the valley, she saw what she had done. She had transformed the perfectly planted, picturesque flowers into lively wildflowers that blanketed the valley. She had always viewed her ability as something that needed to be restrained and kept to herself. But as she looked at the other girls and saw the smiles on their faces as they looked out on the valley, her spirit lifted inside of her.
“Chaos, do you want to help Perfection and me color the leaves in the fall?” Beauty asked.
“I’ll go over the selected colors with you beforehand. There’s a specific plan we have to stick to.” Perfection added.
“Yeah, because I’m really good at sticking to plans.” Chaos tried to suppress a smile. The rest of the girls except for Perfection dissolved into laughter.