Roses

After the dark prompts I thought we should go for something a bit sunnier. This week’s prompt is a rose. Roses feature in so much literature. Robert Burn’s most famous poem My love is Like a Red Red Rose. or Shakespeare’s famous line “A Rose by any other name would still smell as sweet,” but have a darker side. Think Sleeping Beauty, Rose-red and Rose-white, the Nightingale and the Rose. So lets hear your stories poem or flash-fiction about roses.

This story shows roses in another light, here roses are used in that classic ‘picked up at the petrol forecourt’ way, as token of apology and indifference disguised as a symbol of love.

For a few moments, I stood enthralled by her. And then Matilde moved to remove me.

“You must go. Your mother is tired.”

“No, let her stay,” said mother.

“But he will be here soon. It is better if she is not here.”

After a moment’s consideration, mother indicated the wardrobe. “Quick in there,” she said.

Matilde opened the door, and I slipped inside between two fur coats. Matilde left the door slightly ajar, either by accident or design. It did not matter. Either way, I could see mother and hear the approaching heavy tread of Father.

“Her name is Isadora,” mother said.

“Another girl,” said Father, “Disappointing. But no matter. We can arrange another insemination.”

“Another?” said mother, and it seemed as if her voice became weaker still. “But you have Alexander and Hector.”

“One is an imbecile and the other a weakling. We must have another.”

“But you said you would correct them, when they are old enough,” said mother, and there was an air of desperation in her voice.

“It is a risk. The doctors will do what they can, but we need another.”

“Can’t it wait? Can’t it wait until I am stronger at least?”

I had no notion then of what Father spoke, nor why mother looked so fearful.

Father gestured, and Parsons, brought forward a vase full of the most wonderful flowers. These, I was certain, Matilde would not cast away. Even from where I hid, I could see how brilliant they were. Father must have had them brought from London.

“They are lovely,” said mother, but her voice was low and flat.

“Roses,” said Father. “Your favourite flowers.”

“Would you like to hold Isadora?”

Father considered for a moment then shook his head.

“I don’t want to get my coat grubby. Besides…”

Whatever it was besides was left unspoken. I could see mother trembling, and I too, even in the cupboard wrapped in ermine on one side and mink on the other, could feel a chill.

“When will you return?” asked mother.

“Soon,” was all that Father replied.

“No,” said Matilde. “I will not allow it, my lady is still weak.”

From the crack in the wardrobe door, I could see Matilde standing tall and defiant. Her arms were outstretched as if to protect mother from Father. Her red hair seemed to glow with holy fire, and she looked like one of the Sabine women in the painting Father had brought back from his last trip to Italy.

“Won’t you?” sneered Father.

I thought there and then he would strike her, or command Parsons to strike her, but he did not.

“What if I refuse?” asked mother.

Father laughed, but no else did. “As the calf said to the butcher.”

He then turned and left. Parsons followed after him.

The two women must have forgotten I was in the cupboard, or maybe not. At any rate, Matilde rushed to mother and embraced her and she, for her part, began weeping into Matilde’s arms.

“I will not allow it,” said Matilde, but they were only words.

The brush of an arctic fox skin began to tickle my nose in the wardrobe, and although I tried to suppress it, I sneezed loudly.

Matilde sprang up and opened the wardrobe.

“Come now, out of there.”

Do leave a comment and let me know what you think.

12 thoughts on “Roses”

  1. Once upon a suburb, grew a rose bush. Across the street grew a magnolia bush. The roses were so brilliant with color that the boastful bluejays stayed clear. The birds knew they weren’t as pretty. Likewise, the singing warblers refused to perch on the branches of the magnolia bush because the sweet scent of the blooms distracted anyone from hearing the songbirds’ lyrics.

    Posing for a passerby’s close-up camera, the rosebush said, “I am the prettiest.”

    “I smell the sweetest,” said the magnolia bush to the roses. He smiled as a child brought a big white bloom to her nose and inhaled deeply.

    Meanwhile, the gods witnessed this shameful boasting of the two plants, and Mother Nature herself regretted having made the plants.

    “Do something,” Cupid begged Mother Nature. “The roses are ruining my love bouquets!”

    “Do something,” begged Apollo. “The magnolia bush is silencing avian music!”

    Mother Nature smacked her fist into the ground with a burst of anger, and thunder rolled across the land. “I will fix this,” she said.

    The next morning, the rosebush woke up to find she was covered with thorns, and no one wanted to get close for a picture. The magnolia bush found that he was now a tree, and children could no longer reach his blossoms to smell his sweet scent.

    Nowadays, if you pass through a suburban neighborhood, you will see happy bluejays dancing among the roses, and you will hear lyrical warblers singing from the branches of magnolia trees.

    1. Oh I really like that. I love fable stories like this. And loved the light hearted nature of it too. Magnolias are beautiful. My mum had one in her garden and now I think I need to plant one in mine. I have roses already and the smell from them is fab.

  2. When I open my mouth, rosebuds spill out, the velvety petals caressing my lips as they unfurl and bloom, luring people to me with their sweet scent and beautiful form.
    But all I feel are the thorns, twisting and knotting as they tear me up inside.

    1. Fabulous. I love how this reads on different levels. and how it captures perfectly some of the mental health issues that all of us have to face sometimes. I know how it feels to “mask” and how totally unaware people can be about how we feel inside. Not waving downing. and all that. That’s a brilliant piece. It just shows how you are able to make something really deep with just simple images

  3. David, I did feel like you had an excerpt of something there. The characters were already themselves. (And now I know!) It’s good. I like or despise the characters already!

    Iseult, my goodness, how sensual with the velvet and mouth and thorns and scent. Loved it!

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