“What should I call you?” Goldenrod asked the magnolia as he tucked it into bed beside him that first night. “I don’t suppose you have a name, and as beautiful a word as it is, I don’t feel right calling you only ‘magnolia.’ I suppose you don’t mind if I name you myself? I would like to call you Summer, for you are as bright and radiant as the summer sun, even in your poor condition. And I would like to be reminded of this beautiful summer that brought us together. Would you like to be called Summer?”
The magnolia did not protest, so Summer she was named. Every morning, Goldenrod kissed her and said, “Good morning, Summer, darling!” Then his mother would do the same for him and his brothers and sisters.
Summer would stay by his side for the entirety of the day; sometimes, he would take her high up into the tree and find a private branch for the two of them to sit on and enjoy eachother’s company. Sometimes he took her down to the ground to visit his friend the spider. He would dance with her, holding her up high and swaying her back and forth in the sunlight—his mother had told him that blossoms needed sunlight to thrive. At night, he would tuck her into bed, kiss her goodnight, and rest his head on her petals.
Goldenrod’s brothers and sisters told their friends that Goldenrod was courting a magnolia blossom. Goldenrod had never thought of himself as courting Summer until then, but he found that he liked the idea immensely. “Finally,” he told her, “I’ve found somebody to court, and she is the loveliest girl I ever could have found! Summer, we’re lovers now. I love you devotedly, dear Summer!”
Goldenrod completely forgot about finding other elves. After all, he thought, no elf girl could ever match Summer. He kept her close to him throughout the rest of that glorious July, and when August came, Goldenrod thought it was time for him to ask for Summer’s hand in marriage. It would only be a half-year before he would be old enough to wed, and he wanted to ensure once and for all that Summer would be the only one for him.
But on that first day of August, when Goldenrod had made up his mind to ask for Summer’s hand, he woke to a horrible sight: Summer’s petals, which were once milk white, had tarnished to an ugly dingy brown. Instead of forming five lively points, they were curled and shriveled. She had grown pale and dry, and her once yellow center was beginning to blacken. Goldenrod shrieked, which woke everyone else in the nest that had still been asleep.
“Summer’s dying!” Goldenrod cried. Then he let out an ear-splitting wail, which his family was sure could be heard throughout the entire tree and the next tree over. They all embraced him and kissed him and patted him and told him gentle-sounding things that held no meaning to him. His mother gently stroked one of Summer’s petals. “Summer has lived so much longer than I expected her to,” she said. “Why, any other blossom would have died in only a week, or perhaps even a few days. She’s surprised me by living for four weeks.”
“She’s surprised me too,” said one of his brothers. “Goldenrod must’ve taken very good care of her.” The others nodded and murmured in agreement, and said things like, “You ought to be very proud, Goldenrod,” and “You’re a real hero for that poor little blossom!”
But Goldenrod only sobbed and cried, “She can’t die yet! I am going to marry her! I was going to ask for her hand in marriage today…oh, she really mustn’t die! She mustn’t!” And though he really knew it was hopeless, he cradled Summer gently in his arms and said, “Summer, my darling, I love you, and I would like to marry you when we are old enough to wed. You simply cannot die right now! You…must…live…so we…can be…together!
Goldenrod held the blossom to his chest and fell into his mother’s arms, sobbing and wailing with ceaseless intensity.