click…”Well, Gary, billions of people around the world today got a brilliant surprise this morning.”
“Yes, Margaret, billions of little surprises have been popping up all over the place.”
The television camera panned a field full of red flowers.
“Ladies and gentlemen, these are no ordinary flowers. These are red poppies. I can’t tell you how many there are, but as you can see from here, there are thousands of them.”
“Gary, do you know how they got there?”
“No, but as you can see, this is only one field. Every rooftop, every front porch, everywhere, even on my desk this morning, there is a potted red poppy.”
“Where did they come from and what does this mean?”
I changed the channel in the OA break room, but on every channel, there were reports of this red flower popping up, pun intended, everywhere. I lowered the volume and grabbed some juice from the fridge in the break room. A small smirk crossed my face.
“Hey, Nike, Why the smirk?” Artemis asked.
“The one on your face.”
“Oh, that’s nothing. Just smiling as always. Good morning, by the way.” I crossed to my sister to give her a hug.
“Good morning,” said Urania as she entered the room. “How about these reports of the red flowers everywhere? That’s all that’s on the news right now.”
“Yeah, I saw that. It’s like billions of them all over the world.”
I walked over to the coffee machine to pour both my sisters a fresh cup. Handing it to each of them, I said, “This is such a strange occurrence. Wonder how this could have happened?”
Dinlas and Eros entered, and I moved to serve them their morning drinks as well. As they all sat, Eros turned up the volume on the TV. “This is so interesting. How could one person have done this? One would have had to be a God in order for this to be this worldwide,” he said.
Dinlas sat there with his head cocked at his brother’s statement. “But which God could have pulled this off?”
“Well, I have no idea…what, you think I did this?!”
“Who the hell put all these damn flowers all over my office?” Ares demanded as he came into the lounge, tossing a bouquet of red poppies on the table.
I couldn’t help myself; I started to giggle. But that wasn’t a good idea, for now, everyone was looking at me.
“Start explaining this, little one. Did you do this?” Ares asked.
I took a big gulp and moved out of his reach.
“Answer me, Nike, did you do this?”
Realizing my brother’s rage was escalating, I nodded. “Yeah, isn’t it great?”
“No, it’s not. My office is filled with these damn flowers, so you’re gonna come and clean it up. Come on.”
“Aw, come on, Ares, it…”
“Wait, Pater. Why would you do this, Nike? I mean, I’m all for a great prank, but this is on a global scale,” Eros said.
I couldn’t tell if he was impressed by the size of the prank, or sorry he hadn’t thought of it himself.
“Yeah, and how did you manage to get this everywhere?” Dinlas asked.
Everyone stared at me.
“Margaret, these flowers hold a special significance for today…” the man on the television said. “Today is Veterans’ Day, and these flowers are worn by people to remember all those that have fought in the world wars across the globe.”
Everyone looked at me. I tried to giggle it away, but they wanted answers.
“First, I’ll say it wasn’t just me; Chloris helped. She bought all the seeds I needed, and we mixed in some fast-growing herbs. Then I asked Hekate for some magic potions that would help them grow overnight. I flew over every square inch of this earth to get those seeds in the ground, on rooftops, and in pots of dirt she and I made up in her workshop.”
“Okay, Nike, but why?” Dinlas wanted to know.
“Why? Well, I’ve…I’ve been feeling so strangely ever since we came back. I realized that it must be regret.”
“Nike, what have you got to be regretful about?”
I bowed my head. “A lot.”
“Nike…” Ares understood and so did Eros.
“No, Ares, it’s true. I couldn’t save them, I couldn’t stop them.”
“Like you could any more than I could. That was not your fault.”
“Wait, I still don’t get it,” Urania said.
“Nike feels bad because as the goddess of victory, she feels responsible for those wars fought to obtain Victory,” Artemis explained.
“Nike, you couldn’t have stopped them,” Dinlas said.
“Why not? We are Gods.”
“Nike, that’s not how things work,” Ares said, shaking his head sadly.
“I know. I just thought if recognized each one that gave their life, or a member of their family did, at the very least they would be remembered. We should remember the ones that didn’t come home and the ones who did.” A tear formed in my eye and started to fall.
Urania got up to comfort me. “You know, she has a point. We should show that we, too, remember all who served.”
“How do you think we should go about that?” Eros asked.
“I have an idea,” Artemis said.
We listened to her and agreed that it was the best idea. We all went home and changed into our best clothes; I wore my goddess tunic. We met downstairs in the lobby, all sixty-plus of us, even our staff. Seeing all of us carrying the red poppies as we walked down the street in silence actually stopped traffic. We walked down past the coffee shops, past the salons and the malls. As we went, people took off their hats; some even joined us as we walked to the ocean. All of us – Gods and Goddesses, and the muses alike – stood along the ocean’s edge and tossed the poppies in the water, and watched as Uncle Poseidon took them. I flew high above the crowd, and in my most regal pose, wings stretched with Hermes’ staff in my hand, said: LET IT BE KNOWN THROUGHOUT THE LAND THAT THE GODS OF OLYMPUS STAND WITH YOU ON THIS DAY OF REMEMBRANCE. LET US NOT FORGET THE SACRIFICES THAT HAVE BEEN MADE DURING THESE BATTLES AND WARS. LET US NOT FORGET THOSE WHO HAVE RETURNED HOME. THIS IS WHY THE RED POPPY GROWS, BECAUSE OF THEM.
To all of you who serve, will serve, or have ever served, we at the Pantheon thank you for your service.