She ran beneath the stars, fuelled with energy and drive. Her life — she saw the meaning in it now. She clearly saw her role in the universe.
Fireworks of adrenaline shot through her veins, each burst setting a new goal.
And she bonded with her passion, her purpose, her ikigai.
A beautiful word, she thought, running faster.
The colorful flowers around her became a vibrant blur in the night air. She smiled, liking it.
She walked beneath the stars, lost and dead within.
She wasn’t angry. She wasn’t sad. She wasn’t regretful. She wasn’t crying.
She was broken.
Ikigai . . . a word born out of desperation. That’s all everyone was now — desperate, needing a purpose that didn’t exist. But people went to the lengths of living fake lives to comfort themselves, right?
Not her. She was going to face the truth, and just let her existence sway her along like a dead leaf in the wind.
The cold numbed her, cutting into the core of her bones.
Why? she thought, not even fully conscious.
She walked beneath the stripped branches of trees, lost and dead within —
It was dark pink, like a glass goblet of pink wine. Five silky petals lay in a motionless dance, the pollen like the pricks of a needle. The scent, sweet and strong, sent a sudden wave of dizziness through her. 
But it was winter — a dead time when the cold was a stalker. No flower — no flower could have bloomed at this time, but there they were — plum blossoms in bloom. 
A sensation bolted through her veins, and suddenly she felt it. A small blossom, crushed, withering.
But alive.
In her soul.
She closed her eyes and pushed toward it, bringing it forward. The petals were torn, but they were there. They were alive.
She stood there, reunited with her purpose, her ikigai. She felt it, let it wash over her. Her misty breaths lingered in the air, like everlasting dreams. The plum blossoms held all her dreams.
She’d never expected this. Never.
Why not? she thought.
Learn more about the author:

Tejal Doshi

Learn more about the contest which inspired this story:  Fleur 2020-02 Plum Blossom
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