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Rachel the Rose

This is a children’s story I wrote for a friend. Though I like it, I never did anything with it – the concept was one of each of the following paragraphs per page, with a charming illustration to accompany it. So you’ll have to imagine the pacing, and the charming illustration…

Rachel was the first rose to open that late winter’s morning in Mr Harrington’s garden.

She knew no others like her, at first. Nothing as splendid red or as complex in its dense layers of crimson petals. All she knew was her own large leafy rosebush that surrounded her on all sides, and the occasional rose buds, like small jade cocoons scattered throughout the green thicket.

Rachel basked in the glory of her own unique existence, feeling nourished by the entire bush and all of its roots on which she was the only blossom. What a miracle to be alive, she thought. But where are the others? Please, friends, come out and join me in this lush, marvelous world!

But before any other roses bloomed, there was one last winter’s storm. Cold rain and blasts of frigid wind twisted her fragile petals, tearing some away, and fraying the edges of what she had left. What is this cruel world? she thought, devastated.

Within days of the storm, Rachel was no longer the only rose on the bush, but was joined by quite a few other new blossoms. Each new rose in turn sang the sacred song of existence, basking in the glory of newfound life. They cheered themselves as they grew, celebrating their perfectly shaped petals and magnificent crimson shades.

But Rachel grew quiet, drowned out by their songs, and ignored in their celebration. Her petals were curled at their tips and browned at their edges. Even as she grew taller than the other roses, Rachel never opened as wide because of all that she had lost in that early storm of her youth. How did they get all the luck, she wondered, envious of all the other roses on the bush.

One day Mr Harrington came to his blossoming rose bust, and looked closely at his roses. He gently cradled many of them in his hands, while his smile beamed down. He did not cradle Rachel.

He snipped a few of the largest, most glorious roses. “Mrs Harrington will be most delighted,” he whispered when he was done. The cut roses cheered in their beauty and good fortune as they departed the bush of their youth and went to serve their greater purpose, that of spreading beauty to the world.

I wish I were as beautiful as they, Rachel thought, drooping slightly.

A few days later Mr Harrington returned, once again surveying his roses, once again cradling many in the palms of his hands as his thin pink lips smiled in appreciation.

He snipped a few more large, resplendent roses, chuckling in satisfaction as he did so. “She’ll love these,” he said. The cut roses sang their own praise as they ascended.

Am I the last? Rachel wondered, looking around her bush as far as she could, seeing only buds now. Once again she was alone in the bush, but worn down, and surrounded by pregnant green buds around her, and the promise they held for the world.

Soon those buds began to blossom, and their youthful bright crimsons made Rachel look at her own deep scarlet petals in dismay. I will never make anyone happy, she thought, drooping further as she did.

And as if confirming her fears, the next time Mr Harrington came to the rose bush, he ignored Rachel completely. He cradled and sprayed and tended to all of the roses, all except Rachel.

One day a small boy came into the garden. It was Mr Harrington’s grandson, but he behaved very differently in the garden than did his grandfather, Rachel noticed. The boy didn’t stare or cradle or preen, but rather stuck his nose into nearly every flower in the garden. 

At every flower he could reach, the boy closed his eyes, craned his neck, and deeply inhaled the floral aromas. And after breathing in each flower he made a face, usually a small smile, or sometimes no smile at all.

Eventually the boy came to Rachel’s rose bush. He stuck his face, nose first, into all the new roses that shone with a brilliance that made Rachel blush at her own cracked and curled and browned petals. And after inhaling the aroma of each of those roses, the boy smiled, satisfied, and kept going.

Then the boy stuck his nose into Rachel, into her drooping and withered petals. His nose bumped her, making one of Rachel’s petals fall to the ground, to her horror and shame.

But when he inhaled her deeply, the boy’s face lit up. He opened his eyes, now glistening in wonder and amazement, as a wide smile erupted on his face.

“This one grampa,” the boy said. “This is the flower I want to make a garden out of.”

“This one?” Mr Harrington said. “But there are so many others. And remember, the flowers you grow will be just like the one you pick, which is…” He paused. “It’s…”

“I know!” the boy said. “And this is the most amazing flower I’ve ever smelled before! I want all of my flowers to be roses that smell as wonderful as this one!”

Mr Harrington smiled at his grandson with appreciation and pride. “I suppose it is the one’s that have seen the worst of the world that have the most to share,” he said, to no one in particular.

So Mr Harrington carefully cut Rachel from her stem deep in the bush, and potted her for his grandson.

His grandson brought Rachel to his home, and planted her in an empty plot of soil that was waiting, and ready, to be filled with the glory of life.

What a miracle to be alive, Rachel thought as she felt her new roots sink into the fertile soil.

And soon more roses, just like Rachel, joined her in this magnificent world.