Coming up Rosie

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!”

“Le’me see.”

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.

THE END

What does your cover say? Check out this one.

earth_bleeds_red

This is the cover for the upcoming book “The Earth Bleeds Red” by Jackson Paul Baer (check out more about his book here: http://jacksonpaulbaer.com/the-earth-bleeds-red/). I love this cover and can’t wait for the book to become available late next month.

What do I like about this cover? The impact of the dripping red just catches your eye and holds your attention. It is striking – and it makes you want to pick it up (or click on the link) so you can read the back to find out what the book is about. The rest of the image fades to the background, but is still there, in subtle blues and greens, making that pop of red even brighter.

The red is in the center, balancing the background and the title , in big letters at the top of the cover. Which in turn, balances the smaller print of the author’s name at the bottom. The font is straightforward and easy to read – no fancy new font with extra frills.

This cover is classic – and classy.

Mythology – a Short Story

Mythology was originally published by  Moondance.

(c) 2001 Tara Moeller

The invitation came last week.  My youngest cousin is graduating from the same high school I graduated from, with the cousins of the kids I graduated with, probably after having the same teachers I had.

I don’t want to go.  I don’t want to travel back in time to my hometown, where nothing bad has ever happened, or ever will, according to everyone who still lives there.  I want to stay in my new home, in the one bedroom apartment on the top floor overlooking the busy street of the burgeoning city of Seattle.  I want to be where I feel free and anonymous and safe.  Here, it doesn’t matter who I’m related to.

I am the eldest daughter of the eldest daughter, and my cousin is the youngest daughter of the youngest daughter.  Ten years my junior, she was still in grade school when I was freed from the hell of rural education – twenty-five students moving together through twelve grades of the most basic courses – math, English, and History.  I can barely remember my cousin, except for the brief moments trapped eating at the “kids” table at Thanksgiving and Christmas, in my grandparent’s mausoleum of a home.  There were so many relatives there, it was hard to tell who belonged to whom, and so I may not really be remembering her.

I hate arguing with my mother.  It’s like ramming your head against a crocheted pillow, one with a big button sewn in the middle for decoration – ones like my grandmother has setting on the back of her vintage 1940’s couch.  It doesn’t give you a smashing headache all at once, you just slowly get a throbbing in the middle of your forehead as you realize that you’re bouncing off of it and getting nowhere.  Just like last night.

“Your Aunt Jenny attended your graduation; the least you can do is attend Jess’s.”  My mother’s phone call had cut across 3000 miles, four time zones and ten years.

“But, Mom,” I had replied, “ Aunt Jenny isn’t the one graduating.”

“Humph.”

“I have a lot of work to do.  It’s a very busy time here for me.  I’m working on a big story with a deadline.”

“I always had time.  You should always have time for family.”

I still don’t want to go, but my mother hasn’t accepted it.  While it’s true that she and Aunt Jenny had always had time, Dad and Uncle Harlow, not to mention Sherman, my older brother, had not been able to attend my graduation.  They had been at work.  But then, they are men, and work is the domain of men.  Or so the fairy tale goes.

Work isn’t really the problem.  My boss saw the invitation on my desk Friday, and offered me a long weekend to attend.  “Fly out early and enjoy yourself.  You need a vacation.”

Vacation?  A vacation is when you go someplace nice to relax and have fun.  Not when you subject yourself to the lewd pink of your adolescent bedroom, where pictures of a pouting Duran Duran and a trashy Madonna are still hanging on the walls.  Where the corsage you wore to prom is dried and tucked into the edge of your mirror, right beside the picture of the “perfect” prom date, the one that thought prom night would end in the back seat of his mother’s Ford Escort.

Curtis Lane had screamed at me that night, hurling “bitch” after me like a rock.  I walked home in three-inch strappy sandals, nearly breaking an ankle, but adamant that I was right.  Mom and Dad had been asleep, unaware that anything was wrong. They were upset when Curtis and I broke up.  My brother had gotten married right out of high school.

Jessica Tremblay, and the class of 2000 invites you to share

in their accomplishments at 2pm, Saturday the 21st of May,

 in the gymnasium of Littleton High School.

 It’s printed on blue and white paper, thick, with torn edges to make it look old and important, like the Declaration of Independence or something.  A little card inside states that “Jessica will be receiving the Jake Meyers Scholarship, in memory of the Littleton graduate so tragically lost to us all.”

I finger that little card.  I can remember Jake.  He was part of my graduating class, squeaking through with just enough to pass – though I suspect that he had a little help from the teachers.  After all, he was a jock.  He helped to make a name for the school.  He made us proud to be “Littleton Lumberjacks.”

I remember the “tragedy” that took his life.  A car crash the summer after graduation.  There is a clipping from the newspaper tacked to the corkboard in that pink bedroom on the other side of the country.  The clipping doesn’t mention the booze or that he had been racing another car.  It doesn’t mention the other passengers, either, the ones that lived to reach the reality of “after.”

I trace the scar that runs across my left wrist.  My hand went through the windshield and was nearly severed.  I had a concussion and three broken ribs.   I was in the hospital while Jake was made a martyr.  I wasn’t released in time to attend his funeral.

No, all but Jake has been erased.  The last time I was home I heard the speculation that if Jake had not been killed, he would have played pro football – that he had already been approached by a team to play – and so the story grows.

It’s funny how once someone can no longer fail at something, everyone thinks they would have been such a great success; While those of us alive have to constantly strive to match up to the reputation of the dead.

Not that I don’t think Jake wouldn’t have been successful.  It just wouldn’t have been at football.  He wasn’t going to play at U. Maine.  Jake was going to concentrate on his studies; he was going to be a teacher.

I think about that clipping, pinned to the center of that corkboard.  Though it’s surrounded by other memories, it stands out in my mind, rather like it is in the spotlight – Jake has always been center stage.  I hate that article.

I think of my work – the articles I have written for the newspapers I’ve worked for.  I try to spell it out like it is – no cover-ups, no gilded words to make it sound better, no ambiguities to taint the truth.  I write about the survivors, not the victims.  The victims’ story is over.

The phone rings and I groan.  I don’t want to talk to my mother again.  I don’t have another excuse ready.  At least, not one that she’ll finally accept.

I let the machine get it.  I hear my outgoing message – the pleasant, up beat voice, the polite “please leave a message and I will get back to you as soon as I can.”  Yeah, right.  I’ll erase it and forget about it in two seconds.

“Hi.” Says a young voice I don’t recognize. “This is Jessica.  I’m calling to ask you to please come to my graduation.  It would mean so much to me.  I have all the articles you’ve written, even that one on the devastation caused by the lumber industry that Grandma denies you wrote.  Umm.  Please come.  I’m going to U. of Maine, down to Orono, next fall.  There’s no one else I can really talk to.”

The line goes dead.  I can hear the annoying tone resonate through the room before the machine finally disconnects.  I glance down at the invitation in my hand; the little card is crumpled now, and damp from the sweat of my palms.  I pull the response card from the envelope for the last time and picked up my favorite pen- purple with sparkles in the ink – and write a “1” in the slot for the number attending.