"Rose"

Ever hear of “The Garden”? It’s where you can find the reddest roses: the most vibrant of reds, crimson deeper than any imaginable. Few people know where it is, and I am one of them. I’ll tell you where it is, but you have to keep it a secret. This isn’t information you want getting out there.

And I didn’t. Because I love roses more than any other flower. As they bloom, they unfurl petal by petal like one imagines the universe did when it was new. Creation itself is written on the petals of a rose in a language that only the heart can read. This isn’t science. This is art, true and resplendent like few things are capable of being, let alone understanding. I knew this because I’d seen many roses. I grew them in my garden, each reaching up every spring, sprouting from the ground and suffusing the earth with their wild perfection, the morning dew kissing each petal with translucent lips.

I wanted nothing more than to find this Garden. The old woman found me one day while I was picking roses from my own private garden, cutting each with a delicate squeeze of the clippers, careful not to splinter any fragile stem. Still, it can’t be helped that a thorn pricked me. And then the old woman was there, standing near me, watching me suckle on the droplet of blood–redder than any rose–that grew upon the surface of my thumb. And she told me her secret, which I decided I must act upon quickly.

Of course I wouldn’t share the Garden with anyone else. The thought was alluring beyond measure. I had to see them. So I drove towards this place, where the two hills met and the mist obscured the valley beyond. I’d never been there, and until I arrived, I’d never even noticed the virgin valley. I descended through the crevice, past a small waterfall that flowed into a quiet lagoon, and arrived at a small section of the valley, the gate to which was made of thorny vines with roses growing from them.

The Garden was more beautiful than I could imagine. Roses grew upon large bushes, suffused with palpable life and almost seeming to breathe and beat like a living heart. I ran through the Garden, ecstatic like a child running through a field of dandelions, touching buds as I went, watching them open before my eyes as if they could feel my presence. My heart beat tremendously, and I wept.

Then I came upon a white bush, the only one in the entire Garden. The roses were pallid but alive, each bud closed as if asleep. I touched it, somewhat sadly. The old woman was suddenly there, grinning at me. “This one is for you,” she said. And I fell into the bush as if pulled by some force I could not identify. The earth swallowed me up and the roots of the tree dug deep into me, sucking at my flesh like pups at their mother’s teats. There was pain, and fire, and then peace. And the roses opened, crimson color suffusing each petal and making this bush like the others, red and very much alive. And hungry.

I know where the Garden is. And I will tell you.