a writing by Dawn Narvaez

Long before I was born, in a kingdom far away there lived an Empress who was said to be barren. No amount of power or riches could help the Empress bear a child. This saddened the Emperor for he felt helpless. They prayed to the Gods that they be granted a child but nothing happened. The Empress became sad and bitter.

Whenever she would see children, she would ask the guards to send them away from the palace. She became envious of all the women in the palace who could bear children. Her jealousy fed her anger and later on, she sent all the ladies of the palace away.

One day, the Empress was walking in the palace garden when she noticed in one corner the butterflies hovering over something. The garden is filled with flowers and trees so she could not see who was standing there.

As she moved towards the corner, she saw a young woman in her full term of pregnancy. The Empress went purple with anger for she had already ordered all the women out of the palace. But before she could reach the young woman, a sight stopped her from her tracks. On the other side of the woman stood the Emperor who was smiling happily.

The Empress wailed in despair and ran back inside. Anger and jealousy feeding the rage inside her. She knew without a doubt that the young woman is the Emperor's new mistress. A mistress who now bears his child whereas she remains barren.

That night, when the Emperor joined her, she kept her silence. The Emperor asked her what was wrong but she only started to weep. In dismay, the Emperor took her in his arms and told her he would give her anything if only she would stop weeping. The Empress smiled joyously for she now had the means to get rid of the woman.

The Emperor looked at his Empress. He loved her so and it pains his heart to see her turned into a woman he could barely recognize. He would give her anything she would ask if only to glimpse her smile. When her wish came, the Emperor staggered back in dismay. His beautiful wife is asking him for the life of the child in the womb of his guest.

He pleaded to the Empress to ask anything except that but she was blinded by jealousy and rage, refusing to see reason. If the Emperor could not grant her wish, the Empress swore she would kill herself.

The Emperor could do nothing for he has given his word. With a heavy heart, he went to the garden and in the deep darkness of the night, had one of the guards slay the young woman.

Blood seeped through the ground as the woman lays on the ground, color slowly ebbing from her pale skin. She clutches her stomach, filled with her child, her eyes dilated in shock and horror. Tears streamed from her eyes as slowly her blood spreads on the ground and on the lifeless tree beside her.

The next morning when the Empress awoke, she rushed to the garden to see if the Emperor has fulfilled his promise. She found him kneeling in front of a small child, her head crowned with flowers and she was speaking to the Emperor. The Empress came closer and the horror of the child's words rang in her ears.

"I am Sakura, whom you had killed. The woman carrying me was but an instrument of the Fairy Queen. She was sent here to keep me until I am ready to come out into this world. I am to be your child, a gift from the Goddess so that I may bring laughter to your lips, and happiness to your kingdom."

The Empress screamed on hearing this as the child slowly starts to dissolve into a mist. In her haste to catch the dissolving mist, the Empress jumped, impaling herself on the branch of the dried driftwood where the child once stood.

The blood starts to drip from the Empress's body, mixing with the blood of the child she asked to be slain. As the blood slowly drips down the driftwood, pink flowers of delicate appearance started to appear and with her last breath, the Empress uttered the child's name, "Sakura".

From that day forth, the driftwood that now bears beautiful pink flowers was called "Sakura Tree" or what is now known to the world as "Cherry Blossom Trees".

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