The Steel Magnolia Metaphor
by Jennifer Lee Rossman
Each petal was carefully shaped from the finest iron-carbon alloy, curved delicately while still hot and meticulously positioned to overlap with its neighbors just so to form a blossom. Astrid gazed lovingly at the way each petal’s razor-sharp edge glinted in the light of the setting sun, at the way her creation cast a shadow indistinguishable from the other ornamental trees in Mama’s garden.
Mama didn’t look too pleased, though.
She had her fake smile on, the one she used when she knew she had to be proud of Astrid but couldn’t quite figure out how. Astrid was used to adults using that smile around her machines. And around her in general.
“It’s very pretty,” Mama said finally, swatting at a mosquito that had flown near her face. “But I’m not sure I understand what it is.”
“It’s a steel magnolia,” Astrid said, devastated. How could Mama not recognize the main character of her favorite movie?
A sadness came over Mama’s face, which was entirely the wrong emotion. There’d been too much sadness around the house already. “Oh, honey.” She made to put her arm around Astrid, like she’d do with the boys, but stopped herself. “Honey, Steel Magnolias isn’t about a magnolia made of steel. It’s about friendship and strong Southern women.”
Astrid frowned. That didn’t sound right.