Willie stood in the rain, and stared at the rose bloom. He wished everyone could see his smile, and could look at the rose, the perfect shade of red, the perfect velvet petals, and the exquisite drops of water that decorated them.
“No one takes the time anymore, do they?” He sadly shook his head, took a deep breath, sighed, and stared at the rose once more. “They never look. Except in perfect weather.”
He remembered the words of so many others. People he’d once respected. People he still perhaps respected. But people who were, he knew, lost. Consumed by things they couldn’t even see.
“Rob told me not to care.” Willie smiled at the flower. He didn’t touch it. That would have disturbed the water patterns on the petals. He wanted it to remain perfect, like it was. “You can’t afford to care, Willie.” Then, he almost laughed, “Can’t afford to care? My God, Rob? Aren’t we still humans? Isn’t caring what we do? Isn’t that how friends feel about each other?”
The rain had soaked through his shirt long ago, leaving it stuck to his body. It held all the water it could, and all the water being added forced water off the ends of the sleeves, and off the bottom, onto his pants. Which were also soaked. When he moved, his shoes and socks squished.
Willie spoke to the perfect rose, “I used to do this, a long time ago. When I was a kid, you know. Walk in the rain. Play in the rain.” He looked around, watched the rain fall from the sky, watched the drops make their individual splashes in the puddles that had formed. Listened to the drops rustle the leaves in the garden. “I used to love standing in the rain, to see how it washed the dust, and dirt, away. And made everything clean again.” He spoke to the rose again, “But, somewhere, somehow, I lost all that.”
It was true, he knew. “It’s this world we’ve made, isn’t it. A world of money, and possessions. Of supply and demand.” He nodded at the rose. “Where what we feel isn’t real anymore. And all that matters is what we do. Who we are. How much we make. Who we know.”
Willie watched the water drip from the rose, he tracked drops as they fell, all the way to the ground. He found it fascinating how the mind worked. How he moved his eyes, to stay focused on the drops, and how the background moved, but the drops didn’t.
“What happened to us?” He asked, though he knew. He knew too well. Success is what happened. Own your own home. Your own car. Your own boat. Televisions, radios, stereos, books, computers, all of it. Own everything you could ever want. That’s what it was all about. That’s what everyone learned. What everyone taught. “My parents taught me. Their parents taught them.”
And there he was. Standing in the rain. In a rose garden. Staring at a perfect red velvet rose, decorated with tiny drops of water. Talking to it, no less. Like he’d done when he was a child, fifty years ago.
“We’ve forgotten how to live, haven’t we?”
Willie heard Rob’s voice, “You can’t afford to care!”
“When did we stop being human, Rob? What happened to us? When did our hearts turn to stone?”
He stood in the rain, and watched the rose until the rain stopped. Because. He knew he’d never get another chance to see that rose bloom, in the rain again. He wanted to remember it forever. To never forget it.
He wanted to remember what it meant to be alive.
Miranda Kate‘s weekly short fiction challenge is in it’s 36th week. I’ve missed a few weeks. November and December was not kind to me. But, I’m recovering now.
You can read about her small fiction challenge here. I sat down to write, not knowing what would happen. I’m glad I gave myself the chance to find some words. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. And many of them are amazing.