Contest Entry for Holiday Short Story (February) Word Count: 699
“What kind of joke is this?” Alice mumbled under her breath as she snatched the rose from the door and walked inside. She tossed the rose on the table beside the door along with her keys and a stack of bills and junk that had come in the mail that day.
“Happy Valentine’s day,” she continued to mumble. “What a joke.”
She walked into the kitchen, opened the freezer and pulled out a frozen dinner. Before she opened the microwave, she stopped and stared at her reflection in the microwave door.
“Beautiful,” she laughed out loud though inside, her reflection made her want to cry.
She put the dinner in the microwave and walked over to her favorite place in the house, her nook. It was where she kept her wine cabinet, fuzzy slippers, and a handful of books that she used to escape reality.
She poured herself a glass of wine. Then she went back to the microwave and retrieved her now extremely hot frozen dinner. Before she retreated to her little nook.
“This is how I used to spend every night of my life. From the time that I was in high school until one day, it was like I suddenly woke up.”
The group of young ladies sat around Carla listening intently. Each of them could relate to her story in one way or another. Maybe it wasn’t because of body image issues or low self-esteem but they each had their own problems. They all loathed something about themselves.
Carla continued, “I grew up in a home with loving parents who expected a lot but in the most loving way possible. They put pressure on me but not nearly as much as I pressured myself. And they, unlike me, didn’t expect me to be perfect.”
She stopped for a minute to let that sink in.
“Every time I failed at something, my self-esteem and my confidence level dropped. The older I got, it seemed the more things I could find about myself to hate. Maybe some of you are thinking, ‘this woman is pathetic’ but I have realized that to some degree, we all do this.”
She watched as the gears began to turn in the minds of the young ladies surrounding her.
“Whether it's a big hideous zit on your nose, extra fluff in all the wrong places or constant failures? Or maybe you feel like you can’t keep a man? All of these things are basically hatred that we feel towards ourselves. Sometimes, we choose to direct that hatred at other things or worse, other people. But until we realize our true value, we will have that underlying negativity in our lives. It will threaten to boil over every chance it gets.”
She could tell that some of them were actually starting to get it so she continued.
“For me, that rose was the first step in realizing my value. I didn’t believe what the note said but it got me to thinking. I realized that I was unhappy with who I was. All the hopes and dreams that I had when I was growing up had faded away into nothingness. Everything I had worked too hard to become, meant nothing now. I viewed myself as ugly and unattractive because every relationship I had been in failed. I was in a dead end job with no hope of moving forward. In my eyes, my future was bleak at best. But that single rose with a simple note changed everything. I challenge you today to find your true value. I know you can’t see it now but you have value, like the rose for me, your worth is waiting to be discovered. Thank you.”
They applauded and parted ways but one young lady stuck around. When the crowd had cleared, she walked over to Carla and asked, “who was the rose from?”
Carla smiled a soft smile as she looked over the girl’s shoulder. “The only man who could see the value of a single rose.”
Word Count: 699