THE LAST ROSE
© AlzrithThe door swung loudly and deliberately behind little Alzrith, who was holding back tears.
"I hate you, Daddy... I HATE YOU!" came her faint cry as she ran away.
The master of the house – Alzrith's father – peered through his window, looking down at the little figure running away from the mansion into the concealed gardens ahead. Behind him, the door opened and closed.
"Señor, are we to find the Señorita?"
Without turning around, the Señor answered, "No need." A faint smile curved on his lips. "I know where she goes in times like this..."
In times like this, Alzrith would go nowhere but the rose garden a few kilometers from the mansion. She stared longingly at her rose-bushes and, suddenly, her eyes filled with tears.
"I don't believe him!" she wailed, kneeling to hug her flowers through the thorns. She ignored the little scratches on her delicate skin. "He's lying... whatever he says it's not true!"
Then her feet touched something cold and metallic. She looked back to see what it was.
A blue watering can.
She released the roses and picked up the watering can, then started pouring cool drizzles onto the red and white roses. She wiped her tears away and started wandering around the rose garden while watering. Very slowly, she started to hum softly yet sweetly, joining her voice to the flowers' songs. As she wandered about her garden, caressing briefly white and red roses, her heart was overwhelmed with such joy of seeing her roses with wide-open petals spreading their blooms in the air that when Alzrith reached the deepest flowers she ignored the little scratches on her skin caused by thorns.
The rose garden held memories of Alzrith's dear Grandpa. She used to cry when the thorns scratched her skin but dear Grandpa would come to the rescue and tell her, "Thorns are just being protective with their precious roses, my dear. Once you earn their trust, you won't feel the thorns anymore…" Then he'd pluck a white rose and give it to Alzrith.
"I did it Grandpa. Roses trust me…" Alzrith muttered to a red rose, putting down her can. She finished watering the whole huge garden but she wasn't through with talking, which was her favourite activity yet, skipping from one rose bush to another.
She felt a slight weariness when she reached the final bush of almost twenty roses, but still managed to mumble to them the sweet words of dreaming. When she reached the last rose, she was surprised to see it looked different among all the others. She bent closer to it. It was a dull-white rose but, unlike others, it was hanging upside-down in a sturdy, little branch with few thorns. What dismayed Alzrith was that the rose was closed, not like others with exposed corolla. The thought of touching it was interrupted by the feeling she might stop its bloom if she did.
"What have I done, Grandpa? Why doesn't this rose bloom up?" Alzrith said weakly, tracing her fingertips to the leaves nearest to the rose. Her eyes moistened with uncontrolled tears. Yet she heard Grandpa in her heart.
Every rose is a special one and exceptional.
Instead of crying out loud for her failure in taking care of Grandpa's garden, she shed tears through the drizzles from the watering can down to the rose, expecting the rose to feel she shared sympathy with it. She thought of nothing but how would she make the last rose bloom, and even hid behind a rosebush from the gardener who happened by, cutting stray grasses with huge scissors. When the gardener was gone, Alzrith warily jumped out of her hiding place and dusted off tiny thorns that clung to her dress and went off to the bush of the last rose.
She knelt so her eyes were level with the rose and studied it carefully, her mind running with memories of Grandpa. Her eyes filled with tears again, and she hoped that everything Daddy had said about Grandpa was false — Alzrith trusted her Grandpa.
Then she saw the rose swung slightly. She blinked though she felt no wind. The rose swung again — this time, more obviously. Alzrith rubbed her eyes, suspecting them to be deceiving her. Yet the rose stirred— as if something inside it wanted to come out. She tried blinking and rubbing her eyes several times but the rose was indeed moving.
Frightened, Alzrith staggered backwards. She wanted to run away and dive under her blankets... but curiosity got the better of her. The rose was tearing itself — or rather, some creature inside it with black thread-like limbs was tearing its way out. Alzrith watched wide-eyed and couldn't close her eyes no matter how hard she tried.
The rose was transforming into some creature. That creature wriggled out of the torn petals and landed on soft grass beneath the thorns. Alzrith crouched lower to have a better view of the creature wrapped in colourful and moist petals.
It was struggling.
Alzrith carefully picked it up and laid it on her palm. The creature felt sticky and cold and it had a short thread curled at the end on its head. Yet she didn't feel grossed when she poked it slightly. Suddenly, the colourful petals flapped themselves into Alzrith's eyes. Alarmed, she instinctively waved her hands frantically and covered her eyes, wishing the creature gone.
"It's beautiful, isn't it, my sweet Alzrith?" a male voice said from behind her.
Alzrith uncovered her eyes and recognized the voice. "Daddy!" she said, hiding behind him. "There's a monster... a very beautiful one but it tried to blind me!"
The Señor smiled down at her and pointed at the little creature that was traveling from one rose to another with its flapping petals.
"Will it hurt me?" Alzrith gripped the hem of his black coat.
But he laughed to her surprise. "Aw my dear daughter! I'm surprised you don't know what that creature is." He knelt on one knee and put both hands on Alzrith's shoulders. "That is a butterfly, sent by Grandpa to help the roses reproduce abundantly."
"A butterfly?" she fumbled on the word, then eyed the creature called butterfly. "Oh, I thought Grandpa wouldn’t leave without leaving anything here! I always knew he could never leave me! See, Dad, he leaves the butterfly here to do his work while he's away."
"Your Grandpa won't ever come home," her father said seriously. "He's now living in a beautiful Paradise where there's no sadness..."
"Where is it, Daddy? I'd like to go there!"
"God knows when to bring you there but now isn't the time. Just remember what your Grandpa used to say to me... Every dull, last rose has magnificent treasure inside."
Muse: How soon did you guess what the "last rose" was? Young writers are always welcome to share their work on this blog. Just email your stories and poems to the unicorn or see the link on the right for more details.