I missed last week’s Literary Lion, so I’m writing this week’s as soon as possible. That’s at least what I have had drafted in this post for at least a week and a half. I’m still trying to figure out a set schedule that lets me achieve my blogging and other goals while still working at my new publishing job. The good news is that I’ve done yoga every day this week. I saw the “flower” I thought of the dichotomy between beauty and cruelty, like a rose with thorns. That unexpected melancholy that comes when remembering otherwise happy events.
I wake up every morning at six to tend to your roses. Water, soil, fertilizer, the stuff that makes it grow. It’ll last forever, I’ve convinced myself. The damn thing keeps on growing despite my purple thumb. For me, it’s an act of penance. For the bush, it’s an act of courage. Upward, the knotted clusters of hunter green yawn. It’s more thorn than rose. The once sensual smell has faded to soap and dried skin. You planted this years ago, and only sporadically cared for your creation. It didn’t choose to be in your garden, it just found itself dependent upon your soil.
I don’t remember when I started, but the daily gardening gives my days a pattern, a purpose. At first, I hated your garden. It selfishly demanded care despite your condition. I ignored it. Sleeping, eating, and checking the mail were my daily chores. A weekly visit from the nurse. I’m doing fine, I’d lie to her. It happened so slowly that I didn’t notice it, but I stopped thinking about you. In the same way young love turns to old commitment, so did time scab over my loss.
You take the thorns and go on.
Maybe you knew I’d come to need this verdant patch. Every day, as it grows stronger, the memory of you grows weaker, your face, the sickness. At its most beautiful, I was preoccupied with you; I only have your lingering descriptions of its once grand beauty. Old and world weary, it requires daily care. You said it was rare, a vintage rose bush, the way they were supposed to be, you’d say. I never bough it. Treat it like fire, you’d say. Give it love and room to grow into something beautiful.
I never considered that women live longer than men, but this rose bush will last longer than this old woman.
I had fun writing this story because I wanted the rosebush to be a symbol of the narrator. With a dying husband, she took no care of herself. She blamed herself and hated life without him, and now, tending the rose bush is analogous to practicing self-care. It amazes me that this was only 300 words. Usually, I’d need to cut a story to fit within the 400-word limit. Maybe this piece is less interesting than the others I’ve written, but I’m content with the way it scans. More would only be more in this case. Perhaps I’m inspired by Laura’s brilliant, short story. At any rate, let me know what you think of this!