By Zhihui Zou
It was a peaceful hilltop covered by clovers, three-leaf clovers. But that spring, a four-leaf clover grew from a seed that had traveled over in the wind from faraway. She was proud, proud that she had one more leaf than the regular three-leaf ones. She was also tall, at least twice the height of the three-leaf clovers. Standing among them, she was a skyscraper built beside small shacks.
Some bees also lived on that hill. Bees loved to land on the clovers for their pollen, and the clovers welcomed the bees by swaying their leaves in the air. That year, because of her, all the bees swarmed around the four-leaf clover as if the other clovers were slops.
But no bees dared to land on the four-leaf clover, fearing that their feet would ruin her beauty. They just hovered around her all day, watching her from above.
At night, when the lizards came out, instead of going from one clover to another and eating the bugs on their leaves, they circled around the four-leaf clover and looked up at her in union like sunflowers facing the sun.
The four-leaf clover was happy. She liked the attention. Each time when a breeze came, she danced in joy. Her laughter echoed across the hilltop day and night.
The three-leaf clovers weren’t happy with that. They didn’t like a newcomer towering over them. In the wind, they would swing their bodies and try to hit her, tear her leaves, break her stem, or at least ruin her sinfully beautiful face. But they couldn’t do so. Her leaves and face were too high above them, and her stem was too strong.
The three-leaf clovers quit after days of fruitless attempts. All day, they watched the bees circling over her, forming her crown; all night, they watched the lizards lying around below her, forming her throne.
Months passed, the three-leaf clovers became depressed and lowered their heads tiredly and started preparing for the winter. But the four-leaf clover still indulged herself in the bees and lizards’ company.
When winter came, the bees and lizards left. The four-leaf clover stood alone, and no matter how loud she called, she couldn’t bring the bees and lizards back. The breeze was no longer cozy; instead, it became harsh and cold.
For the first time, the four-leaf clover felt lonely. The snow gathered on her were heavy like stones. While the three-leaf clovers could hide their stems in the deep snow to avoid the freezing weather, hers was exposed, swaying—no longer with joy, but with shiver—in the winter’s ruthless gale.
The four-leaf clover’s vision became blurry as the wind pulled her slowly out of the soil. But just as her roots were about to snap, she heard laughter, a laughter of a human boy.
The boy ran to the hilltop, running and jumping like a squirrel entering a room filled with tree nuts. He stopped after seeing the exposed four-leaf clover.
After examining her for a while, he smiled, picked her up, brought her home, placed her in a planter filled with warm soil, and put her on his night stand.
She grew there, away from the harsh wind and cold temperature, but alone. No bees came; no lizards would admire her beauty. No one even cared to throw envious words at her.
When spring arrived again, outside the window, the hilltop was once again covered by clovers, three-leaf clovers.
Zhihui Zou lives in Southern California. He has published a novel, and his work has appeared in Short Fiction Break, Heavy Feather Review, San Antonio Review, and elsewhere. During weekends, he likes to read history books.