by Kelly Lee
David finally understands why the rosebush was his grandmother's prize possession.
The rose bush had been there almost as long as the house in which David Moore’s grandmother had lived. The plant had thrived through every kind of weather condition and did not seem to need anything. Nevertheless, David’s grandmother had watered it every other day and gave it plant food twice a week.
The rosebush bloomed continuously, with its blood-red flowers flourishing in the warm sunshine, and adding a strange beauty to the snow in the winter. It grew new leaves and limbs all year long, for it never seemed to go dormant for the winter months. David remembered the rosebush for most of his life by the simple memories of his grandmother taking care of the plant and treating it with kindness. He knew the bush was there and that it existed, but he had never actually paid attention to it.
Until the day his grandmother died.
David was heartbroken; she died peacefully in her sleep one spring night. She had been the only family he had living on this world and now he felt lost without her.
Her will stated that she left all her worldly possessions to David. It also asked that he take care of the rosebush in the flower garden, with instructions on how to care for the plant, adding that he was never to cut off the blooms or to prune the plant. Even if the flowers were old and dried, he was not to cut them off. David thought this last part strange, as all plants and bushes need pruning, but this was his grandmother’s prize rose bush, and he would take care of it as she asked him to.
For several weeks, David took care of legal papers and such. Following the funeral, he then moved into the house. He paid all of her old bills, and took care of the flower garden and the rosebush. It still looked very fresh with its blood-red flowers and deep green leaves.
One day, all legalities taken care of, David went back to work. Before he left the house that morning, he watered the rosebush and gave it nourishment.
Late in the afternoon, a little girl walked by David’s property on her way home from school. She stopped when she saw a beautiful red bud peeking up over the fence. The child was sure her mother would love that rose. So, she walked over to the fence and managed to pluck the rose off the bush. She then ran home to her mother. As she left, the stem where the bud had been quivered and began to bleed.
When David came home, he found the stem broken and the flower gone. He immediately sealed the broken stem with pruning paint. He hoped that would help, for there was really nothing else he could do then.
As he went inside, he thought he heard someone crying.
Somewhere in the middle of the night, David awoke to the sound of sobbing. Not very wide-awake, he had thought he left the T.V. on. As he climbed out of bed, he realized the crying was coming from outside, in the garden. Pulling on his jeans and shoes, he went out into the garden. He scanned the area, but found no source for the soft crying. He even looked out into the street, nothing. As he stepped away from the fence, he noticed something terrible.
The rosebush was gone.
In its place was a large, gaping hole. It was as if someone had dug it up or pulled it… out? But surely not; pulling out a full-grown plant would have been impossible.
The sobs came to his ears again, and this time, they came from the small gazebo at the northeast end of the garden. Walking toward the structure, he noticed a young woman sitting on the bench inside. Her white, linen nightdress was muddy from the knees down, and stain of deep red blotted the sleeve and side of the gown. Her left hand held her right arm. As David stepped closer to her, he noticed she was bleeding, badly. He knelt beside her.
“What happened?” he asked as he took her arm and examined it closely. A large gash yawned at him just below her shoulder. Mixed with blood was a black substance.
“Someone picked the rose,” was the reply.
David looked at her; what did that mean? “Stay here,” he said at last “I’ll be right back.” He got up slowly and began to walk away, strange thoughts swirling in his head.
After he returned, with bandages and medicine, he agreed to stay with her for a while. He listened to her haunting songs of faeries and angels as he bandaged her arm. “Who are you?” he asked at last.
She stopped singing and looked at him, a sharp look on her face. Then, she smiled a sad smile. Her deep green eyes held more sadness. “I am rose,” she replied. And she leaned on his shoulder and fell asleep.
The next thing David remembered was waking up on the gazebo bench. He yawned and stretched, wondering why he had gone to sleep in the garden. Then, as his senses came to him, he remembered the woman named Rose. He looked about but did not see her anywhere.
Perplexed, he started toward the house when the memory of the missing rosebush crept into his mind. Rose’s muddy nightgown also came to him. Could it be? He stood there for a moment, then, he went to the place where the rosebush usually stood. He stopped in his tracks as the sight before him caused his eyes to widen and his mind to reel.
The rosebush was there, just as it always had been. A new bud had come out on this morning and was almost open. But the thing that shocked him the most was
the place where the other bud had been taken off the stem: a bloody, gauze bandage was hanging from the end.
Next to it, a new rosebud was forming.