Each soft petal falls away, following the bloom of the rose. We live and die among rambles and thorns, and no matter how long gardeners, poets and writers have looked to the roses for inspiration, we still do. Probably always will.
Writers took up the challenge and produced flash that displayed the complexity of writing with roses. Roses blossom for romance, mark a passing and even feel concern for the hands that prune them. If you think a rose is just a rose, be prepared for something different.
This week’s stories are based on the June 3, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a rose.
A Rose and a Life by Ruchira Khanna
Chaplin’s vitals were not co-operating; leaving the docs confused. He was equally dejected since he wanted to live and be around the empire that he built.
With moist eyes, he looked out the window and observed a bud that had bloomed into a rose, which eventually withered away. The process had been continuous for days, and this gave him the essence of his being.
He had to let go his diseased body and make himself liberated from the bondage of sentiments. As he stared at the dry rose, he breathes his last, shedding his flesh and sorrows.
A Memory of Roses by Charli Mills
Ramona hummed and watered, “I beg your pardon…I never promised you a rose garden…along with the sunshine…you need a little hose-water sometime.” Vic loved his roses, tending each stalk with care. Ramona tended chickens, the kitchen garden, horses and calves.
Twins? She tended twins, didn’t she? Ramona frowned. She looked across the spray of water, beyond the tall standards that would soon unfold creamy yellow. Wild roses bloomed in profusion where she found the yin-yang rock.
Vic transplanted them from the canyon where they used to ride horses and picnic with cheddar cheese and crackers. Sad roses. But why?
Double Mourning by Paula Moyer
On Mother’s Day morning Jean’s father always went out back before church to clip five red roses, one for each of the three kids and for the two parents. This morning, though, when Daddy pinned the roses on, he put a white one in his lapel.
The first Mother’s Day since Grandma had died. His mother. “Neet,” Grandpa had called her, short for “Anita.”
At dinner, Grandpa escorted a new woman. She called herself Blanche.
Later, Grandpa winked at Blanch. “Neet? How about some coffee?”
Jean found Daddy outside.
“I knew he was slipping,” he sobbed. “But why today?”
Rosebud by Sarah Unsicker
Gloria tended her grandchildren as she did her roses: enjoying the beauty, avoiding the thorns. And Chelsea seemed to be more thorns than beauty these days. When she wasn’t staring into space, she was openly defiant and refused to participate in school. When she did her homework, she didn’t turn it in. Gloria wondered if Chelsea would have to repeat first grade.
Homeschooling would be the solution. This child needed more attention, more nurturing than a cold classroom afforded. She would never bloom in that school. Chelsea was a rosebud that needed coaxing to shine, like her father.
The Smile by Irene Waters
“I failed my uni exams” Steven smiled at his client.
“I failed my uni exams and lost the client” Steven smiled at his boss.
“I’ve been fired because I failed my uni exams and lost the client” Steven smiled at his wife.
“Jenny’s left me because I was fired, failed my uni exams and lost the client” Steven smiled at his mother.
“So why are you smiling?”
“My other test results came back today. Clear. No abnormalities. I can again see the dew on the rose petals and relish the sun. The fear is gone. I’m alive and I’m rejoicing.”
Forever Home by Sacha Black
The soft petals barely out of bud kissed my cheek as I tried to inhale the sweet pollen, but it wasn’t strong enough, not mature enough to smell yet. I laid the bunch of almost roses on the coffin and stepped back. If they had time to mature, they would have been white, innocent like her. But they would never get to blossom and neither would she.
Thorny tears sliced into my cheeks; reminding me her pain was gone now.
“Goodbye baby,” I whispered and collapsed on my knees. They lowered her tiny brown forever home into the ground.
A Song For Rosie by Pete Fanning
“Rosie, get me a beer.”
Rose turned for the fridge to get the last beer. Ethan tuned his guitar.
She would listen, She’d always listened. But then she’d leave. She would finally walk out the tinny walls of the trailer in lot 6C for good. She’d spent her twenties waiting. On tables and love.
Ethan sang his song. Tears bloomed in her eyes. When he was done he smiled.
“You liked it?”
She nodded. Ethan’s gaze fell to the bag at the door. Rose stepped closer for a final kiss goodbye.
“One more song?”
“Okay,” she sniffled. “One more.”
Rose Petals by Kalpana Solsi
The Feng Shui expert warned me against storing dried and dead things but these crumpled, shrivelled petals have infused life and vigour into me.
As a shift nurse, I had to dispense potions to the in-house patients.
Annie held a bright pink rose and smiled. I didn’t. She plucked the petals and asked me to inhale the happiness.
The next day, the rose lay withered on the bed next to her pale body.
I picked the six petals, each for a year she lived and enriched lives with her sunny smile and diseased body.
Annie’s smile adorns my face.
Alone by Sarah Brentyn
“Will no one stand for the accused?”
Silence spread through the crowd.
Some looked out windows or at the wooden floor. Others sat up straighter, a look of superiority lighting their faces and dancing in their eyes.
All held roses. Each clutching one white and one red flower. Petal after petal was raised in the air. Red. Red. Another red.
The large, bearded man overseeing the trial did not act surprised. “The accused will be hanged,” he said blandly, “tomorrow at noon.”
When the villagers walked to the square the next morning, one white rose rested on the gallows.
A Prickly Situation by Larry LaForge
“Rosa sericea pteracantha,” Edna said softly as she lifted her index finger to her mouth, trying to stop the bleeding. “They’re beautiful but those thorns get me every time.”
“That’s botanically impossible,” Ed replied.
“Huh? What do you mean? Look at my finger.”
Ed knew he should’ve kept quiet, but decided to finish what he started. “Roses don’t have thorns,” he declared. “They have prickles.”
Edna frowned while continuing to apply pressure to her finger wound. “Well, Mr. Flower Expert, can you at least help me get them into the vase?”
“Certainly, my dear.”
“OOOUCH!” Ed screamed seconds later.
Black Rose and Red by Pat Cummings
Her demurely gloved hand on his, she whispered, “You need to ruin my husband.” He had seen the bridegroom winning all night, and now his latest opponent threw down his hand, leaving another fortune behind on the baize.
Rising, he strolled across the room, and drawled at the flushed young man, “Winner takes everything—the first to draw the black rose.”
“Done.” There was a flick as the ace of clubs appeared. Her new husband drew next, then pulled his derringer and fired, shouting, “Cheater! I also drew that ace!”
He fell as a red rose blossomed on his chest.
The Yellow Roses by Ann Edall-Robson
“What are her favourite flowers?”
“For the prom, M’am, I want to bring her a corsage.”
“Yellow roses.” Her Mother had told him.
A yellow rose, any yellow rose. A poignant reminder of her first love. She had been trying to grow them for decades. Thorns and leaves were the result of her nurturing.
“How have you been?”
That Yankee drawl she knew to be his, had been the reply when she answered the telephone.
He sat on the deck smiling, watching her tend the beautiful yellow blooms.
How did the roses know that they had found each other?
Removing Thorns by Kate Ferrie
Roses, a colorful rainbow.
Kids…those kids. Grabbed roses and twirled them like banners.
“Brats,” she murmurs indigently, knowing she’s unreasonable, but it’s her Les, his reverence.
Kathy hears. “Those brats are your great-grandchildren paying homage to their great-grandfather. Mom, you know he’d hand out the roses and organize the parade.”
Lorraine chuckles. He would lead the parade. Petals tickle her cheek.
Kevin, 9, stands there. “Grandpa loved peace roses because they’re your favorite.”
Lorraine’s face embraces the rose.
Les’s eyes, twinkle in Kevin’s face. “I removed all the thorns so they really are peaceful peace roses.
Flash Fiction by Anne Goodwin
“Don’t think it’s all a bed of roses,” said my mother, handing me the potato peeler and nudging me towards the sink.
Since my sister had left home, I’d taken to helping out with cooking and cleaning. I didn’t mind, but I was embarrassed that my mother would think I was hankering after a future as a housewife. It seemed to me that a bed of roses summed up my mother’s life exactly: perfumed petals imprisoned within a tangle of thorns. I wanted to ramble beyond the pot of soil in which she’d planted me. I wanted to bloom.
(Excerpt from Anne Goodwin’s forthcoming novel, “Sugar and Snails”)
Today’s Rose by Ruth Irwin
Listen…can you hear the bird? It’s sitting in the tree, chirping happily. The wind is gusting. It plays with the palm fronds providing background music for the bird. Then the pigeon joins in, giving a coo coo back beat.
Despite the cold morning the sun is now warm on my skin. I sit and relax, my senses taking in all that is around me. I am like a lizard, lying on a rock, soaking up the warmth.
It is winter here. My roses are bare. Come spring they will bloom again. Until then this tranquility is my rose.
Next Year by Mercy.James.
“Wow! did she ever whack us back. Poor middle sister – almost lopped to the ground.”
“Harsh indeed. She wielded her Felcos with a mean streak this year.”
The two end wild roses spoke to each other, green leaves and runners pushing into new spaces and places. The middle rose remained quiet, concentrating her energies on growing as strong as she had been the year before.
“She wasn’t in good spirits when she worked us over.”
“No – troubled – pained. In many ways. Her aches apparent when she straightens up.”
“I suspect she won’t be cleaning us up again – next year.”
Still Life by Norah Colvin
Marnie observed the roses Miss R. had arranged for class, carefully assessing the colours and studying the lines while sketching them on the canvas, striving to match their perfection. Oblivious to all but Miss R. and the roses, for one hour nothing else mattered.
As other students streamed out Marnie hung back to chat with Miss R.
Miss R. handed her a rose from the vase saying, “You are that rose. You may be surrounded by thorns, but the beauty of the rose is inside you. Remember that always. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
A Rosy Walk, Except for That Sign by Dave Madden
Our nightly ritual; I loved these walks with my wife. We were much like the U.S. Postal Service: rain, sleet, or snow. Brief moments that were truly “quality time.”
Step-by-step, minutes quickly transformed into hours and dusk blackened. Erin and I talked about nothing and everything with each sentence shared; they all seemed meaningful.
The unsightly litter, graffiti, and random mismatched decorating abilities, for some reason, never detracted from all the beauty that surrounded these strolls. Screaming neighbors: a corner a cappella. Barking dogs: harmonious percussions.
Uninviting: That damn sign that read, “Pick your noses, not the roses.” Ugh.
Rose Tainted by Geoff LePard
‘Can you drive, Paul? My stomach is getting in the way.’
‘Not long now, Mary.’
‘Not soon enough. My ribs feel tenderised.’
Paul held the car door. ‘Sure you’re ok with this?’
‘I want to see the family home one last time before it’s sold.’
‘Well, lookee there. The rambler’s in flower.’
‘Dad loved this; an old English rose he called it. Its scent is… OW.’
‘Those thorns are vicious. Mary, you ok?’
‘Hmm. It’s gone right into the knuckle. Damn. It’s swelling already.’
‘Paul, I’m feeling odd. Can you get me some water? I…’
Petals in Pages by Melissa Hinzman
In the end, there wasn’t much to remember her by. Her scent had vanished. Her possessions had been dispersed to the children. Everything that identified her as a tangible person was gone. Never before had Walter felt so alone in the house they built into a home. Purging everything had been his idea; it was easier to look around the empty rooms without the constant reminders. All Walter had left were his memories and the lone, once pink rose Janet had pressed into his favorite book years ago. He carefully clutched the stem and wept silently into the darkness.
A Rose for Syd by Phil Guida
The sweet fragrance of roses drew him in at first meeting. From that moment he knew that his years of wandering had come to an abrupt end.
They made a toast to the festivities as the evening progressed not really making any promises beyond another work day together at the Fair.
The essence of that meeting became the focal point of the next year. A bouquet of dreams wrapped in promises led them to unexpected adventures across the country and back again with no regrets.
Nearly 20 years have passed and she still is the rose of his life.
Protector by Rebecca Patajac
A scream cut through her from across the meadow and she raged into action, dismissing her injury and climbing up the nearest lookout.
Her arms trembled, not used to her own weight, but she needed to ensure her charge was okay.
Her heart pounded at another squeal and she cursed her clumsiness; she would’ve been on top by now.
Finally up, she peered through the crisp fog and relief washed over her as she saw the dancing figures, twirling around a ring of daisies.
She leant against the lookout rose’s petals, breathing deep and stroking her torn wing.
Meta by Surfer Rob
Not rushing . . . an easy trot.
From the flower cart he snagged a rose, tucking three dollars under the corner of the lady’s till. She only felt the wind from his passing.
He could run faster. He had somewhere to be, but showing up late was good cover. He just wanted . . .
not a rose, but an Iris–
. . . to leave a little something to brighten her day.
He swung by the News and left the flower on her keyboard, being careful not to cause a whirlwind of loose paper as he streaked in and out again.
Nobody saw him.