I wrote this story a while ago; my last draft was dated 2011, but I know I probably wrote it about 15 years ago, when Caty was very young. It reads like a children’s story – but it’s really meant for adults. Let me know what you think.
Rosie grew in Mrs. Twiddle’s garden. Rosie liked the sun, raising her petals to its warmth every morning. She liked the caress of soft rain on her leaves, and the soaking her roots got in a storm.
Mrs. Twiddle took care of Rosie.
Rosie’s first memories were of Mrs. Twiddle, in her big straw hat, her gardening gloves and knees muddy, spreading mulch around to keep Rosie warm, feeding her and watering her, keeping the bugs off her tender leaves. It used to be that Rosie couldn’t wait to see Mrs. Twiddle coming toward her across the lush fescue lawn.
Rosie grew big and strong. New shoots spread out and many flowers bloomed in her branches.
But Rosie wasn’t looking forward to Mrs. Twiddle’s visit today.
Nowadays, Mrs. Twiddle brought pruning shears and tie-backs. Mrs. Twiddle constantly tried to make Rosie grow the way she wanted – twisted and tied to a wooden grid stuck in the ground. There were days when Rosie wished she were a daisy, growing close to the ground, or one of the pansies that Mrs. Twiddle planted each year as a border around the goldfish pond – even the big old apple tree that Mrs. Twiddle frowned at when it gave her sour apples.
Whenever Rosie voiced her wish, the other plants would make her hush. “You don’t know what you are saying Rosie,” said one young orange pansy. “At least you are here year after year. Our lives are so short. It’s not fair.”
“Yes Rosie,” moaned the old apple tree, “you should be happy to be a rose bush, scenting the air. Sometimes, all my apples are good for is the compost heap.”
Rosie always apologized to the others for her grumblings. It was always greener on the other side of the garden, she supposed.
But, Rosie couldn’t help but hate the prunings – they hurt. Mrs. Twiddle didn’t always keep her pruning shears sharp and they would shred her stalks rather than cut cleanly. Mrs. Twiddle would cut and cut all day long sometimes. She never seemed to be satisfied with how Rosie was growing.
One day, when Rosie was being decidedly rebellious in conforming to the stakes and ties, Mrs. Twiddle swore. All the flowers gasped and cringed. None of them had ever heard the short, blue-haired lady swear before.
“I curse you, you wretched rose bush. I’m tired of pruning and tying.” And she stormed off, dropping her shears to the ground.
Rosie thought her wish had been granted.
But Mrs. Twiddle returned with a spade and began to dig at Rosie’s roots. Poor Rosie – that hurt even more than the pruning.
“This is the end of me. I wish I had been content and happy and just done what Mrs. Twiddle wanted me to do.” Rosie thought.
Mrs. Twiddle pulled Rosie from the earth, throwing her with the pile of weeds she had dug from the garden, gasping in the heat of the mid-day sun. Later, she put Rosie down by the road for the trash men in the morning.
Rosie wept all night. She hadn’t wanted the prunings to continue, but was now certain that this was the end. She could feel the water and nutrients draining from her severed roots. Her petals wilted. Her leaves started to turn brown and fall off.
Rosie was surprised in the morning when the trash men came. They grabbed the bags of trash from the house, but left her and the weeds on the side of the road.
Even the trash men don’t want me, she thought.
A little while later, another truck stopped. It was full of weeds and raked up leaves. The men climbed down and picked up Rosie and the weeds from Mrs. Twiddle’s garden.
“Hey, man. Look at this. The old lady is throwing out her rose bush!”
Rosie felt strange hands gently probing her petals and leaves. “I wonder why? It’s not diseased or anything. Hmmm, put it up front.”
The man carried Rosie to the cab of the truck. He poured some water from a bottle into a small bucket and put her roots in. Rosie greedily sucked up the water.
From the cab, sitting between the two men, Rosie got to see a lot of the city. She hadn’t realized the world was so much bigger than Mrs. Twiddle’s garden. She saw many other gardens, some filled with plants she had never seen before. One had tiny trees and a rippling brook. Rosie thought it would be a nice place to live, but the men talked about how those little trees were tied up and forced to stay small, and Rosie decided that maybe it wouldn’t be so nice to live there after all.
At the end of the day, the men pulled the truck up to a large lot. Piles of mulch and clippings filled the lot, many of them higher than the truck. Rosie wondered at this place.
Cars and trucks were coming and going, too. People were filling buckets and boxes with mulch and soil from the different piles.
The men in the truck dumped their load. Then the driver carefully pulled Rosie from the cab.
“What’s that Ed?” A man called from a small building in the corner.
“It’s a rose bush that was left out at the curb for pick up.”
“What’s wrong with it?”
“Nothin’ far as I can tell. I’m goin’ to put it out back.”
Rosie wondered where “out back” was. Would she end up in the mulch or the compost?
The man named Ed took Rosie to a back corner of the yard, behind the small building. Other plants were growing there, blooming and budding and fragrant. The man chose a place and dug a hole, then planted Rosie into the cool earth. He did not tie her or stake her up, but let her be, just the way she was.
He watered her and mulched the ground where her roots were.
“All right little rose bush. There you go.”
And then the man left.
Rosie looked around. There were a couple of trees and flowers in boxes. The ground was bare in spots, and rocky in others. The smell of rotting leaves from the compost drifted on the wind.
Sighing, Rosie missed Mrs. Twiddle’s garden. It was familiar – the goldfish pond, the old apple tree and the daisies. She wondered when the men would come to cut her branches and tie her up.
But they never did. She was watered every day and fed once a week. It was not the fancy stuff that Mrs. Twiddle used to give her, but it was good and nutritious and Rosie grew and grew.
Sometimes Ed would pick up a trailing shoot that blocked the path, but he rarely cut them. He usually just tucked it back into the rest of her branches and continued on his way.
Rosie came to like it there. She liked the men who came to sit by her, the way they complimented the smell of her flowers. The tree next to her shaded her when the sun got too hot. Though there was no pond or rippling brook, just the rocks that one of the men arranged in patterns and the flowers in the boxes, Rosie was happy.
Just the way she was.