The Fairies : Roses At Christmas

Rose had always visited Fauna’s site in the small cemetery, each year. It was in a town she didn’t know the name of. She didn’t really know if it had a name, so many towns didn’t. It was the town Flora and Fauna had defended when the invaders from space had arrived, and tried to conquer the planet.

That’s when Rose, Mystica, and all of Mystica’s adopted daughters, had learned of the machines. Tiny, invisible machines, everywhere, in the air, the water, the ground. They’d explained all the magic. Black, White, and Wild. It was them. The machines. The magic was her way of talking with the machines, of letting them know what she imagined. The machines, being ubiquitous, and being so advanced, so developed, the things they did were, to her, like magic, made what she imagined happen.

With a few exceptions. Like how not even the machines could bring Fauna back.

She rode her crescent moon to the town. Everyone knew she didn’t have to. She could have flown using her wings, and that stone moon that stood so much taller than she did, weighed several tons. But, the machines moved it through the air, effortlessly. She’d asked them how that worked, how they could move such a heavy stone, so easily. They’d explained it was done through constantly adjusting the gravity around the stone, to make it float. But, Rose didn’t really understand. It was a technology the machines had developed long after they’d left their human parents behind, on Earth.

Her stone crescent moon floated down from the sky, and hovered, just above the ground, barely touching the blades of grass. It waited there, floating, for Rose to return.

Rose walked through the entrance of the cemetery, to Fauna’s site. A simple tombstone rested there. The townspeople kept it clean, and kept the ground where Fauna rested well trimmed, and cared for. They thought of her as a hero, one of the town’s saviors. Rose felt the town would never forget what Fauna had done for them.

Each year at this time, the townspeople brought bouquets of flowers, and placed them around Fauna’s grave. It took several years for Rose to see the flowers, and not cry. Even then, seeing the flowers touched her heart, and once more, she missed her dear sister, Fauna. As she had since that awful day.

Rose knelt beside the tombstone, and ran her fingers across the carefully etched letters of Fauna’s name. “This year, I have something for you, dear sister.” Then, she closed her eyes.

Slowly, two rose bushes grew from the ground. They started as tiny twigs, but grew, until they became full sized bushes. One on each side of Fauna’s tombstone. Somehow, magically, the bushes grew right up to the stone, but never touched it. Instead, they grew next to it. When they’d grown enough to be taller than the stone, they grew over it, as if held in an archway.

Once the rose bushes had reached their full height, they began to bloom. Candy Cane red and white blooms. They had been Fauna’s favorite. The bushes filled with blooms, hundreds of them.

Rose knew the blooms would always be there. When one bloom died, another would take its place. The bushes would remain, for centuries, perhaps forever, in full bloom. In rain, or snow, or wind. Rose imagined it. Rose dreamed it. Rose knew the machines would make her dream come true.

“For you, dear sister. So you will always know, wherever you are, beyond this veil of life, that you are remembered here. And loved here.”

Rose gently traced the stone etching of Fauna’s name once more. “May your heart always know joy, dear sister.” She wished once more she could hug Fauna, and cry on her shoulder, and say good-bye, though she knew she never could.

In time, the sun set, and Rose sat once more in her crescent moon, which floated into the night time sky, and took her home, to her place among the trees, beside the forest lake.

“May you always know the joy, and the beauty, of the roses you so loved, sister. May they always bloom for you.”

 

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Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2018/01/07

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.

614 words
@mysoulstears


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.

 

#IADMM2015 : In The Dark, They Sing

“Damn, Tommy.”

It was one AM, October 31st, and I was at the botanical garden on a dare, fuming at how stupid I was, and remembering what happened.

“Chicken!” Tommy stuck out his elbows and flapped his arms like stubby wings, “Buck-awk!”

“Am not!” I indignantly denied.

“Prove it!”

Everyone circled us, watching, waiting to see what happened, chanting “Prove it! Prove it!

Tommy had that grin people have when you walk into their trap, “Halloween’s this week, right?” Heads nodded all around. “And you, flower boy, always take pictures of the roses at the botanical garden, right?”

Everybody joined in, “Yeah, flower boy.”

Tommy issued his challenge, “So, take pictures of the stupid roses, but take them before the sun comes up on Halloween.”

“But, they’re closed after dark!”

“So, you scared, flower boy?”

“OK!” I paused, took a deep breath. “I’ll take the pictures!”

“And you show them to us on Halloween.”

So on the 30th, I did my homework, watched my TV shows, and went to bed like I always did. I set an alarm for midnight, after I knew Mom and Dad would be asleep. Then, I snuck out and walked the few blocks to the botanical garden. It was easy to get in. They ran chains along the entrance gate, it stopped cars, but was easy to crawl under. “Just to show Tommy,” I pulled out my phone and took a picture of the gate, from the inside.

There were no street lights. “I should have brought a flashlight.” I’d thought about doing that, but figured someone would see it’s beam, and call the police, so I walked in the dark

Everything looked different after dark, the trees beside the road looked black, leaves and all. And they looked bigger than they did in the daytime. All limbs and branches, like arms and fingers. “Happy Halloween,” I mumbled as I walked.

The rose garden was easy to find. I walked to its center. In the dark, I couldn’t see the roses. No colors, no pretty roses, just black rows of amorphous blobs on the ground.

In the middle of the roses I wondered, “How do I get picture in the dark?” That’s when I heard rustling noises. There was no wind, not even a breeze, but I heard rustling. I walked the length of the row of roses, trying to figure out what was making the sound. I couldn’t find a cause. And the rustling noises grew stronger, more frequent.

It sounded like someone was walking through the rose bushes. I stopped, and the rustling grew louder. I held up my phone, and tried to take a panoramic picture. “They’ll all be black.” That wouldn’t prove anything. I had to get pictures of the roses. I held the phone close to a rose bush, and shined the screen on it. I got a hint of color, so I took a picture.

I checked the picture to make sure it was OK. It was a red rose, almost black in the dark. But it wasn’t shaped like any rose I’d ever seen. The tips of the petals formed the outline of an eye. I stared at the picture. Then took pictures of other roses. They all looked like eyes.

I heard laughter, and a voice whispered, “Fresh meat, fresh blood. And I swear, the roses started moving.

I ran down the row I was on, looking for the opening to the next row, so I could get the hell out of there. But there wasn’t an opening, just endless rose bushes. So, I ran back the way I’d come, but the roses blocked my way.

I was trapped.

And I heard the roses whispering, “Fresh meat, fresh blood.” I backed away from them. They got closer, and whispered, “Fresh meat, fresh blood.”

I had to escape them, so I ran through them. Through the bushes filled with thorns. I felt their branches reach for me. Their thorns tore at my clothes, my arms, my legs. “Fresh meat, fresh blood!” I fought my way through the roses.

The botanical garden workers found me unconscious in the parking lot. I was a bloody mess, with scrapes and cuts everywhere. They called 911.

When I got out of the hospital, Mom and Dad never let me look at the pictures of the roses from that night. But one night I heard Mom ask Dad, “Why did he arrange the petals to make them look like eyes?”

747 Words
@LurchMunster


I wrote this for Ink After Dark’s Monster Mash 2015. Go read the other Monster Mash stories. You can find them here (dark tales) and here (light tales). Happy Halloween.

#MidweekMusings 1×05 : Fire

Flora paid for the drinks, then left the bar. She spoke with the grass, dirt, flowers, trees. “Where has Pahana gone?” A trail of white only Flora could see formed along the ground. She followed it.

Pahana stood before the remains of his house. Fauna felt the heartbreak in his veins, the aching of his heart, the tears of his soul. “Pahana?”

He turned as he wiped away his tears. “Flora?”

Flora’s fingers touched his cheek, his tears. “Show me where they rest, please.”

Pahana led Flora to a mass gravesite at the edge of town. A dozen fresh graves were there, unmarked. He stopped before three of the graves. “My daughter. My son. My wife.” He slowly sank to his knees. He didn’t cry. Flora knew he’d run out of tears in that place. All he could do was kneel before the graves, and pray someday he could feel anything other than empty.

She placed a hand on his shoulder, “Thank you.” She spoke with the ground, the grass, the trees, the flowers. Pahana watched as green grass sprouted around the graves. At the head of each, a rose-bush grew. Deep red for his wife, peach for his daughter, yellow for his son.

Pahana stood. “Thank you.”

Flora smiled, touched his cheek once more. “Tell me, my friend, are there still angels here?”

He nodded.

“Tell me where they are.”

He took her hand, and guided her through the town, to the home of the mayor. “They took over everything.”

She smiled, touched his cheek once more, “Go someplace safe. Tell everyone you can to hide someplace safe.”

“What are you going to do?”

Flora said nothing. Pahana looked at her, into her eyes. He saw fire. Burning, white-hot fire.

“Be safe, Flora. Please.” Pahana left, running from house to house, telling people the fairy Flora was here to save them from the angels. “Get somewhere safe!”

Flora called on the wild magic. She knew it was the machines of her world, of Cylinders. The ubiquitous machines flowing in the blood of everyone, in the air, the water, the trees. She still called it the wild magic. She couldn’t begin to understand the machines, their sciences, their technology. But she could understand wild magic. Especially her wild magic.

Vines grew, came alive, gathered around her. A vine crossed the ground to the door of the house. It grew between the door, and frame, unlocked the door. The door swung open, silently. Flora entered the house, the vines surrounded her, protected her.

She moved room to room, searching for the angels. They’d gathered the beds of the house, the chairs, the tables, in one room. They slept there, draped across everything. They had no guards. They were angels. No one would attack them.

Flora spoke to the wild magic. The vines spread rapidly through the room, twisting around each angel, binding hands, feet and wings. No angle was free. The vines trapped them all. She spoke to the wild magic again.

The vines erupted in flames.

The angels burned.

Flora watched them die. “For Pahana. For his family.” She walked among the dead angels. “For my sister.”

She walked from the home, still surrounded by vines. Outside, the vines spread until the house was no longer visible. She heard the sound of wooden beams splintering. The vines crushed the house, consumed it, turned it, and everything in it, back to dirt.

The fire in her eyes never wavered, never faded. “The angels want a war.” She spread her wings, “Then they shall have a war.” Her wings tore into the air as she took flight. She used the wild magic to guide her as she headed toward her mother’s side.

It was time to stop the angels.

Time to stop the madness.

“There must be no more families like Pahana’s.”

639 words
@LurchMunster


For week 1×05 of #MidweekMusings, another flash fiction adventure hosted by #FlashMobWrites (Ruth Long and Cara Michaels). Please, go read all the stories for this week’s prompt.

#FTT 23 : This, To Me, Represents Love

“This, to me, represents love.” I held up a dozen cut roses. They had been Valerie’s favorite kind. Yellow in the middle, with red along the edges. I will never forget the day she left. She didn’t say where she was going. She just left a note, explaining she was leaving to find herself.

“Roses?” Helen laughed. “The ancient symbol of love, and beauty.” She looked at the roses. “And they are beautiful.”

Helen was a good friend. I sometimes dreamed of falling for her. But it was always just a dream. I knew it couldn’t happen. She was my friend. And love? Well. All I had to do was remember Valerie.

And remembering Valerie always caused me to hear Dan McCafferty’s voice, screaming in my mind.

“Love hurts,
Love scars,
Love wounds,
And mars,
Any heart
Not tough or strong enough
To take a lot of pain,
Take a lot of pain.”

I knew I’d never fall in love again. I knew I’d never survive that kind of pain again. I could still see holes in my heart where pieces had been. Pieces gone since Valerie left.

“You think they’re beautiful?” I had to ask.

“Yes,” she smiled, and grabbed my hand, slipping her fingers between mine. “But, fleeting.”

“How so?”

“They’re cut. They’re pretty enough now. But in a few days, they’re whither. Their petals will turn brown, and black, and fall off. And they’ll become slimy where they’re in the water in the vase.” She squeezed my hand. It felt good. I squeezed back, enjoying the simple physical contact. Just being able to touch her. Feel her hand in mine. I always found my smile when we held hands.

“Yep. Just like love.”

She frowned, but didn’t let go of my hand. “I know. You’re still wounded from her.”

I had to stare at the roses. I couldn’t look at Helen. Not right then. I couldn’t let her see the parts of me missing. I couldn’t.

I was too afraid. Afraid of what she’d see. Afraid of what I’d feel. Afraid of how I felt about her. Afraid of so many things.

“It’s OK. The roses always grow back.” She smiled again. “Every year, they bloom again.” She put her hand under my chin, and gently lifted it up, looking into my eyes. “Just like love blooms again.”

I handed her the roses. “For you.” I whispered those words.

She squeezed my hand again. “I love them.” She smiled. “And I’m not going anywhere.” She kept looking into my eyes. “I’ve got plenty of time. I intend to wait for spring, when love blooms again.” She let me look away, but kept holding my hand.

“I’ll wait for the roses to bloom again.”

456 words
@LurchMunster


I wrote this for Week 23 of Alissa Leonard‘s Finish That Thought. Please, go read all the creatively shared stories in this week’s challenge.

#ThursThreads Week 97: A Clip From My NaNoWriMo Work In Progress

Roses were such beautiful flowers. The way their petals spiraled around their cores. They way they started as buds, and unravelled, from the outside to the inside. The way the morning dew dressed up their blooms.

Jessica always marveled at how beautiful the roses were. But she knew, like all flowers, the blooms wouldn’t last. They’d be buds. Then full blooms. Then they’d turn brown, their petals falling away. Leaving just the sepal, and the ovary.

But while they bloomed, they were beautiful. She loved how they bloomed twice a year. Once in the spring, around April May and June. Then again in the fall, in September and October. Sometimes, even into November.

“Mommy? Why do the rose flowers always die so quickly?”

Sharon smiled, “Because they’ve completed their purpose. They bloom so the roses can reproduce. The blooms attract insects, like bees, and butterflies. The insects spread the pollen from the flowers to other roses. And the roses reproduce, making more roses.”

“But, Mommy, there are no insects. No bees. No butterflies. Shouldn’t the flowers stay alive until they get pon-i-la-ted?” Sharon saw the questioning look in her daughters eyes.

“Pollinated, dear. And no, they don’t. They live a few days. A few weeks at most. And then they die. Pollinated or not.”

Jessica ran her fingertips over the petals of a rose bloom. “They die too soon, don’t they, Mommy.”

Sharon nodded, “Yes, dear. Sometimes, they die too soon.”

241 Words @LurchMunster


I wrote this for Siobhan Muir‘s #ThursThreads, Week 97. It’s a little clip from the NaNoWriMo story I am working on. Hope you like it. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are good reading.

Fall Flash Festival : My Fall

I stood on the beach, watching the waves, wondering how long it would be until I struck the ground again. Like I do every year. Every fall. Sometimes, I think they named this time of year perfectly. Fall. And every year, I do.

It was good to stand on the beach and watch the sunrise. The sun always brought color back to the world. The blue-green, grey, and white of the ocean and it’s waves. The pale blue of the sky, with it’s wispy white clouds. The green and gold of the sea oats. The shades of brown and tan in the sand.

Watching the colors come back reminded me, like all things, Fall and Winter eventually ended, yielding to Spring. In roughly 26 weeks. Spring. I always look forward to that. Fall. I never look forward to that.

As I stood in the dark, before the dawn, everything was a shade of black, or gray. I knew, as the leaves changed from their many shades of green, to their painted shades of gold, yellow, red, and brown, those leaves would fall to the ground. And leave bare trees. All of them, shades of gray. All of them the same.

I knew, the roses would bloom one last time. Defiantly painting themselves in oceans of pink, yellow, white, peach, bronze, and red. I knew those brilliant splashes of color would fade, the petals of each bloom would curl, and fall, beneath the ocean of gray fall always brought.

Already I could feel a nip in the wind, a hint of the biting cold that would grow in the days ahead. That little hint of the coming Winter. The playful nip of cold, like a puppy’s playful nip. A nip that grew throughout the fall into the searing bite of a full-grown, predatory wolf. Hunting every last shred of life it could find. Hell-bent on sinking its teeth in, and crushing that life in it’s jaws.

Fall. That time of year where all hope faded. Where the bottom fell out of my world, my life. Where the ground I’d stood on, the hill I’d climbed in Spring and Summer ended. And I walked off a cliff I never saw coming. A cliff that just appeared. Where the solid ground I stood on simply fell away. And I fell too.

Fall. At least it was named accurately.

There had been a time, not so many years ago, when Fall brought despair. When Fall heralded the return of the demon my depression was.

Until I learned to walk along the beach. In the hour before the dawn. And watch the sun climb out of the ocean, into the sky once more. And watch as the shades of black and grey faded away. And the colors of the world came to life again.

Until I learned to Fall heralds the return of the Camellia trees to full bloom. Their shades of white, pink and red, reminding me the Fall and Winter don’t last. They end. As if the Camellia trees catch me as I fall, and gently place me on the ground.

I knew Fall would grow the demon of depression within me. The darkness of my life would grow, just like the length of each night. But I’d learned. The darkness would never win. So long as the Camellias bloomed in the dead of Winter once again. So long as the sun rose every morning, and painted over the darkness of the night, and brought back the colors of life.

588 Words
@LurchMunster


I wrote this for the Fall Flash Festival, hosted by Eric Martell and Daniel Swensen. Please, go read all the other stories written for the festival. They all show the magic of words.

Wide Awake

IMG_6307I walked through a special rose garden I know of today.

As I did, I remembered. I remembered three years ago, when this journey I am on started. I remembered all the people who are gone. All the people who have given up on me, for there is no other way to say it.

Given up on me, concluding I’m broken, and can never be well, and can never be who I once was, and can never be normal again.

To which I say thank God. For I know what really happened three years ago. I know the truth of what I did, the actions I took, and the path I started down in those days. I know the loss I endured, the agony of watching everyone I knew, everyone I called friend, outside my family, turn and walk away.

I say thank God, for what happened. Because what happened is I woke up. It’s that simple. I woke up. I came back to life, doing everything I had to do, taking every action I had to take, enduring the agony of change, to change the direction of my life.

I watched myself die. I watched myself be reborn.

Three years ago, I was normal. I had a career. A reasonably well-paying job. The respect of everyone that knew me, and my technical abilities in the job I held. I worked in a safe, secure, unchanging environment. Where every day was predictable. Where every day was the same. Where I followed the rules laid out by others. Management. Corporate boards. The directors of the US Navy. The protectors of national security.

I behaved.

And I lived in a world without color. A world where everyone was the same. Everyone believed the same things. Made the same decisions. Had the same definitions of success. Of normal. Of appropriate and inappropriate. A world where differences equated to which model of what brand of car you drove. How big your house was. Where you shopped for groceries. Where your children went to college. What church you attended on Sundays. How much of a pay raise you got every year. The color of your skin. How well you dressed. If you were male, or female. If you were US Navy, Civil Service, or Contractor. Where you ranked in the chain of command.

A world of order.

A cold, dead, heartless world, where how I felt, what I believed, what I wanted, what I dreamed, what I hoped, didn’t matter. Where all that mattered was staying in my place, and behaving appropriately.

A world where nothing ever changed. Where, after 13 years, I was still no body. Expendable. Contractor slime. Untrustable. A world where my opinion was sought, then ignored. Because it was “appropriate” to ask for it, in an effort to make me believe I was part of the team. Part of the organization.

A world where everything was check boxes, and lists. Where you read the list, and examined the check boxes, and said, “We’re diverse. So say the statistics.” A world where the rules said, “No discrimination,” and hence, there was no discrimination in the workplace.

Unless you listened to the whispers in the halls. The gossip between office cubes. The stories shared at lunch, and during the mandatory celebrations of birthdays, contract awards, and other noteworthy occasions.

“I’ll never set foot in that bathroom again. It’s been in there.”

“Stay away from me. You’re trouble. And I’m not going down with you.”

“That prima-donna will get what he deserves someday.”

“Who pissed on his feet this morning?”

“He’s out to celebrate some stupid religious holiday.”

“Did you know he voted for the Democratic Party?”

“Her daughter came out. Yeah. Declared she’s gay.”

“He’s a little odd, isn’t he.”

“There’s something not quite right about her.”

Always, it was the same. You are just like us, or your are not. Because we are not diverse, even though the statistics say we are.

It was when someone confided in me, letting me know she had breast cancer. We spoke of her terror of what was to come, and what she and her family would have to endure in the months ahead, when I’d had enough.

I stopped playing by the rules. I could not place the job, the workplace, the career, or anything associated with it, ahead of the well-being of a friend. I took down the façade I’d hidden behind for decades, and declared I cared what happened to my friend. I let myself feel. I cried. I had nights I couldn’t sleep. I wrote every day. For her. As I’d promised I would. And my work suffered.

And I didn’t care at all. I met every deadline. I answered every technical question. I provided help every time someone asked for help. But, I’d stopped playing. I stopped writing that weekly report that said the same thing, week after week after week. I stopped going to birthday celebrations. I stopped attending meetings I didn’t have to attend. I stopped going to lunch when someone left for another job, or to welcome someone to the job.

I stopped blending in.

Of course, this terrified people. It scared them. It made them uncomfortable. And inevitably, they got rid of me. Isn’t that how things are in this world? If someone makes you uncomfortable, scares you, is someone you don’t agree with, don’t understand, don’t approve of, comes along, you block them out, and send them away? Right?

That’s what happened. And in the three years since I woke up, none of the people I worked with has spoken to me. One day, they declared I could not talk to them any more. And I have not heard from them since.

But, in that same three years, I’ve been on an amazing journey. Taking one step at a time. Sometimes, stopping, and sitting on the ground, to catch my breath, to let myself breathe, to let myself come to grips with everything that’s happening in my life.

Of course, I couldn’t be allowed to return. For countless reasons. Would you let someone you cared about return to the place they were injured? Especially if their injuries were non-physical, and resulted in them being sent out on medical leave for 13 weeks? Would you let someone who declared you, and the people you worked with, were all the same, return to work? Would you let someone who declared you and the people you worked with, cared more about the work than they did for each other, return to work?

And why would I want to return to that place anyway? Why would I return to the land of gray. Where every day was the same, and nothing ever changed, and everyone feigned happiness, because to admit you weren’t happy meant you were miserable. Why would I return to a land where I had no hope. Where I was expendable. Where what I wanted, what I felt, what I believed, and what I knew, didn’t matter.

Now, three years later, I find I sometimes wonder about the people trapped within that world. Sometimes, as I walk through the roses of a garden I know of, my heart aches, and my soul sheds tears of sorrow, for the people I once knew.

For I know not one of them has ever walked through that rose garden. Not one of them has ever sat on the ground, and watched the butterflies as they flit from one flower to the next, flying haphazard patterns through the air. Not one of them has sought the colors of the Camellias in full bloom in the dead of winter.

I’ve seen them walk along the sand, on the beach that runs right past the building they work in. They walk there when its appropriate. During lunch. In the spring, or fall. When it’s not too hot. And not too cold. And they only spend a little time on their walks, because they are on their lunch breaks after all. And they can’t be late getting back to work.

And I wonder if even a single one of them has sat on the sand of that beach, and watched the sand crabs peaking out of their holes, and skittering across the sand. I wonder if they’ve watched the dolphins swimming past. The way they form such perfect arches, nose to tail, as they move along, just beneath the surface of the waves. If they’ve ever watch the osprey, diving from the sky into the ocean, rising once again, carrying aloft their prey.

Of if they only see postcards. Glimpses of a world they don’t have time to explore.

And as I walk among the roses, in that garden I know of, three years after I woke up, I find myself fighting off real tears as my heart breaks, knowing not one of them knows the truths of life I have learned in the past three years. Knowing it will be a miracle if even one of them wakes up.

I cry for the lost.

And then I breathe, feeling my lungs fill with air, feeling the sun shine down on me, feeling the breeze flow through my fingers, across the palms and backs of my hands. And I know I can never go back.

I woke up.

There is no place for me in the land of those who sleep.

Like The Roses Do

The roses were beautiful.
In so many colors.
White, pink, yellow, red.
And so many more.
Peach, bronze, and silver-pink.
Each rose a work of art
To me.

I wondered as I walked
Through that garden
Filled with roses,
Why humans are so stupid.
Why they can’t even see
What’s right before
Their noses.

The truth was obvious to me.
Just with the roses.
For the roses were so many kinds.
Some grew like vines,
Others like bushes.
Some blooms were tiny,
Maybe quarter sized.
Such works of art they were.
Other roses were whopping big.
With blooms twice the size of my fist.
Blooms I couldn’t even hold
In a single hand.

Roses that had just a few petals,
And were open.
You could see the pistol,
And the pollen
In the heart of them.

Roses that had petals by the dozens.
Tightly packed together.
Layer upon layer.
Like spiral flowers.

Some roses were in full bloom.
Some were not.
Some hadn’t bloomed at all.

Each bush had different leaves.
Some small and tiny,
Packed densely around the stems.
Others had a big leaf,
With saw-toothed edges,
Every now and then.

Some roses bloomed in clumps.
Four, five, or more blossoms
In a single group.
Blooming all at once.

Some bloomed by themselves.
A bloom here.
Another there.
Scattered everywhere.

Some looked like rose bloom families.
A big bloom in the midst
Of an ocean of baby roses
That hadn’t spread their petals
Yet.

The roses came
In more sizes,
Colors
And types
Than I could count.

And I didn’t care at all.
Each rose
Was beautiful.

And I wondered
As I walked
Looking at the roses,
Thanking life
For every bloom.

Why humans are
So very silly,
And so mean,
That they can’t see the beauty
In another human being.
That they have to use
Cruel names,
And unkind words,
To hurt someone
That’s not like them.

Why can’t humans watch the roses
And learn to see the beauty
In diversity.
Like the roses do.

 

How Can I Trust You?

I took a walk today.
Through the flowers.
And the trees.
Through the garden
Filled with roses.
By the side of the canal.
Through the Camellia trees.
By the duck pond
With the fountain in it.

As I walked
I remembered.
Lies.
Oh, so many lies.
That I’ve heard
All my life.

Things no one talks about.
Because no one doubts.
No one questions.
No one wants to.

I remember all the years
I stayed indoors
In December.
Because it was cold.
And everybody knows
Nothing grows this time of year.
Nothing at all.

The leaves have fallen
Off the trees.
The flowers have all died off.
Bulbs hiding
Underground.
Beneath the frost.
Safe from the cold.
The birds are gone.
They all flew south.
In their annual migration.

All that’s left are evergreens.
Pine trees.
Holly trees.
Juniper bushes.
The other trees are bare.
No leaves of any kind.
They look like skeletons.
Or those line drawings
We all made as children.

And all the grass is dormant.
Or dead.
Unchanging,
Or shades of brown.

It’s the time of year
When nothing’s outside.
That’s what I was always told.
That’s what the behavior
Of everyone I knew
Taught me was the truth.

Now…

Now I know
It was a lie.
Because for the third December
In a row.
I’ve got pictures.
Of flowers.
In bloom.

Strawberry trees.
Camellias.
Pansies.
Even daisies.
And roses.

I took a walk today.
Through the gardens.
And I saw.
With my own eyes.
The truth.

Just one of many truths
I’ve come across
In the past 2 years
And 2 months.

I’ve learned success
Is not what you do.
How much you make.
The things you have.
The trinkets,
And the toys.

It’s not how you dress.
How you cut your hair.
That you shave your face
Every day.
Even on vacation.

It’s not what you drive.
Not an Audi.
Not a Porsche.
A Benze or BMW.
It’s not a truck.
Or an SUV.
Or that hybrid
You’re so proud of.
“I’m doing my part
To save the environment,
I’m being green!”

Yeah, right.

It’s not that house you live in.
With the two car garage.
And more bedrooms
That there are people
Living there.

It’s not all the things
You have in your kitchen.
So that you can push a button
And make dinner.

It’s none of those things.
None of them at all.

It’s friends.
People you can trust.
That in turn
Trust you.

People you care about.
People you love.
People that matter
More than all the things
There are on this Earth.
People that feel that way
About you.

I know this the truth.
I used to have a job like that.
One where people said,
“I want a job
Like you’ve got.”

If only they knew.
If only they knew.

I lost that job.
Until that job
Got rid of me.
And the funny thing is
I’m happier today
That I’ve been in 3 decades.
All the years I held that job.
That slowly,
Painfully
Ate my life away.

I have more people
I can talk with.
That I ever had before.
When I was the definition
Of success.
In the corporate world.

So many things I thought I knew.
Things I’d learned
From years of watching
How people behave.

I’ve learned they were flat wrong.
I’ve learned so many things
People accept as true
Are lies.
Are false.
They don’t exist at all.

But most of all
I’ve learned
So many of the people
I once knew.
So many of the people
I encounter ever day
Even now.

Don’t know.
They quietly live
Within the framework
Of the truths
I’ve learned are lies.

And never once
Dare question
If those lies are true.

For the grandest lie of all
Is the one I keep running into.
Time and time again.
The one they follow
Without knowing they do.

That is safer
To stay within the rules.
That to question anything
At all.

And after all the things I’ve learned
Are lies.
That your social world
Your corporate world,
Your material world,
Wants me to believe are true.

How can I trust you.
When you never question
Anything
At
All.

What are you afraid of?
No.
Really.
What are you afraid of?

The truth?