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The Final Rose

14 Mar

I am at the top of the hill with the humans. The rain that threatened earlier has held off and the sun has come out. I can feel the warmth touching me lightly. The humans cannot see me, but it’s not their fault. They feel my presence, but they do not realize that I still have a physical form, albeit one that has almost faded completely. If they were looking intently through one of the shafts of sunlight, they might just be able to make me out. But even if they could, they might not realize it was me.

I was a human myself until very recently, although my memory of that time is fading fast. I know that this place, and these people, were somehow important to me, but I do not know what my name was or how I left my human form.

One of the humans is talking while the others listen. Some kind of water is leaking out of their eyes. I detect a great deal of sadness in the group and I somehow feel that it has something to do with me. I wish I could comfort them, but I instinctively know that they must find their comfort from one another.

Now the humans are taking turns to take a gray powdery substance out of a little wooden box and scatter it to the winds. I feel a very strong connection with that substance, as strong as the connection I felt a couple of days ago when I saw the body I used to inhabit. Two of the humans are climbing out onto a ledge holding the box. One of them pours the rest of the gray powder under a tree, and the other reverently places the box beside a rock.

What a strange ritual. My memory has dissipated too much for me to understand it, but even though I cannot be seen, I feel as if I am a central element in what is happening.

The humans are starting to make their way down the hill, some more quickly than others. Unseen, I flit between them and among them, catching snippets of conversation as I go. They are taking care of each other, the humans are, making sure everyone gets down the hill safely. I see a woman taking off her hat and tenderly placing it onto the head of an older woman to shield her from the hot sun. I sense a lot of distance among this group. Some of the humans have come from far, far away. Some of them have not seen each other for a long time. Even though my sense of who they are is so vague, I feel unsurpassable happiness at the sight of them together, leaning on one another, supporting one another.

With me in tow, the humans reach a house, and a jolt of crystal-clear memory pierces me. This was my home when I was a human. I lived here for a long, long time. As I look at the woman who had received the hat coming down the hill, the word “sister” floats into my consciousness, along with a sense that we spent a lot of time together in this house. A sense of loss emanates from all of the humans, but none so much as this woman who was my sister. I hope she will be OK. I think she will. Everyone seems to be rallying around her.

The woman who had given my sister the hat wanders off into the garden. I decide to go with her. She walks slowly, stopping now and then to smell a flower or look around her. She cannot see me, but I feel that she knows I am there. I float along beside her for a while, looking at her face that seems to be lined with sadness and her shoulders that slump under the weight of regret. Regret for what, I don’t know.

I feel that I have to give her something, some kind of comfort, but since I left my human form, I have been unable to communicate with the humans. I drift away, in search of some way to leave a message.

I find myself standing among some rose bushes. All of the flowers on them are dead, and for some reason that makes me very sad. These roses must have meant something to me.

All of a sudden, I know what I have to do.

I embrace one of the dead roses, enveloping every part of it with my being. I infuse it with my energy, and I become one with the flower as the petals start to fill with colour.

When the human comes around the corner moments later, she stops as she sees a single red rose in the rose garden. She approaches me and gently touches one of my petals. She inhales deeply as the sweet scent of the flower fills the air.

She knows it’s me. I can tell from the way she stands looking at me for a long time, and from the way she lovingly says goodbye before she turns and walks away.

For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, kgwaite challenged me with “Write a story from the perspective of someone just entering or just about to leave earth (or life).” and I challenged Eric Limer with “Write a story in which social media is the main driving force.”

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Stopping To Smell The Roses

30 Aug

Look what I have...

For a number of reasons, I find my morning commute to be far more palatable than the afternoon commute. I rarely wait more than three minutes for a bus to the subway station. Because I board the subway at the end of the line, I always get a seat. The morning commute is faster and generally more pleasant – or at least, less unpleasant.

In the afternoon, I am tired and cranky, and my head is full of work-related stress. I am forced to squeeze myself onto an already jam-packed subway train, and when I emerge at my destination, I have to spend seventeen geological eras waiting for a bus home. Because my chances of getting a seat on either the subway or the bus are less than my chances of being ordained as the Pope, my afternoon commute involves me being on my feet for well over an hour.

By the time I got onto the bus yesterday, I was dying of thirst and my head was pounding. I stood there on the bus, one squashed sardine among many, feeling hot and grumpy. I never regard my commutes as fun, but yesterday, I was even more fed up than usual. I stared at the floor for the entire thirty minute bus ride just to avoid accidentally catching anyone’s eye. That’s how much of a mood I was in.

As the bus pulled up to my stop, I breathed a sigh of relief at having made it home while simultaneously lamenting the fact that my evenings are always filled with chores and running around after people.

Yes, I was feeling pathetic and sorry for myself. I admit it.

But then… something amazing happened.

As I stepped off the bus, I saw my husband and my younger son James sitting on the grass near the bus stop. Thinking I was seeing a mirage, I rubbed my eyes.

James jumped up and yelled, “Mommy!” The sun shone on his curly blond hair and illuminated his entire being. I swear, the kid looked like an angel – a glorious shining light that swept away every ounce of negativity in me. He ran towards me with his hands behind his back. The smile on his face as he reached me could have split his face in two as he pulled his hands from behind his back and thrust a bunch of red roses at me.

I spent a few minutes sitting there on the grass with my husband and my son, basking in the sense of love and belonging, and literally stopping to smell the roses.

I think I will regard my afternoon commutes with a lot less angst from now on. Because look at what I have waiting for me at the other end.

(Photo credit to the author.)