The Rose Man
Lila yelped as a ruler smacked down on her desk, mere centimeters away from her fingers. Sheepishly, she looked up at Miss Gloria and muttered out an apology. Lila's eyes darted back to the window she'd been looking out of. The man was still there.
Miss Gloria sighed and gently patted Lila's head. "Dear I know you're not the biggest fan of literature but you need to memorize the material. If you do then I'll let you play in the rose garden after lessons all you want."
Immediately Lila's ears perked up but a question still lingered on her mind. "What about the man? Don't I have to wait for his turn to be over before I can play?"
"What?" The urgency in Miss Gloria's voice frightened Lila.
Before Lila could say anything else, Miss Gloria all but ran out of the room. Shushed yelling could be heard down the hall. Lila looked around the room to make sure she was alone before she scurried towards the window for a better look.
Every day at dusk, Lila noticed a man would appear in the rose garden and water the red roses. They were the most beautiful ones out of all the other colors. Lila wasn't sure when the man started watering them, but before she realized it his appearance became common place. He didn't show up every day, but he was bound to show up at least thrice a week.
However this was the first time that he'd been chased off. Lila gasped to herself as she watched her father run into the garden with the butler. The two of them were yelling at the rose man until he ran away. As they walked back to the house, Lila could barely make out what they were saying.
"I didn't know he still came by..."
"We have to hurry and get that wall built. I will not have him disturb my property."
"Yes sir. The builders should be arriving by the end of the week."
Lila frowned to herself. She went back to her desk. For the first time that she could ever remember, she studied diligently and finished her work just as Miss Gloria re-entered the study room.
"Miss Gloria! I finished my homework! Can I go play in the rose garden now? Thank you!" Lila didn't wait for Miss Gloria to respond. She handed her tutor the papers and pen and rushed downstairs into the yard.
The only obstacle between the rose garden and the house was the hedge maze. However Lila discovered that because she was still so small, she could simply push her way through small openings in the branches and pop out of the other side. In almost no time at all, Lila reached the rose garden.
The rose bushes were arranged in a U shape and by color. Pink, yellow, purple, and white had duplicates on either end of the U. The red roses were at the very center. Ever since Lila noticed the rose man, she also noticed that the red roses began to blossom even more beautifully. One of the roses still had water droplets on its petals.
The rose man must work very hard to keep them so beautiful.
Once night fell, Lila was being tucked into bed by her father. Being so young and still lacking a filter, she asked what was on her mind.
"Father why did you chase away the rose man? Was it because he's not taking care of the other roses as well as the red ones?"
Lila's father looked surprised. "When did you..." He began, but he trailed off. "Yes that's right sweetheart. He's supposed to take care of what's important. But he's not doing his job, so I made him leave."
"That's too bad. The red roses look very pretty." Lila said while yawning, her eyes starting to droop. Her father didn't acknowledge what she said and kissed her forehead before exiting the room.
I hope Father gives the rose man another chance...
"Miss Lila how could you be smiling?!"
Lila quickly covered her mouth with her hands as her father and his butler looked down on her disapprovingly.
"Well I suppose I understand why. You're still young and don't want to study. Miss Gloria will be away until the end of the week to attend to business. I would prefer that you use this freetime to study, but seeing as we can't find another home tutor so quickly on such short notice, you can just play until Miss Gloria returns"
It was impossible to hide the smile on Lila's face as she hopped out of her chair and curtsied to her father. "Thank you Father!"
Lila picked up her plate and carried it to the sink. Father's butler almost tried to stop her but Father stopped him. "Let her. If she won't be studying then she can at least take care of her own business until Gloria returns"
The butler nodded in understanding. Lila was already half way out the door before she suddenly turned back. She skipped into the living room where there was a framed picture of a woman with bright green eyes.
"I almost forgot! Good morning Mother!" Lila said as she curtsied to the picture.
For the next few days, Lila's routine was full of leisure. She'd wake up early to have breakfast with her father. Wish a good morning to her mother's picture, and spend the rest of the time trying to water the other colored rose bushes in the garden. Unfortunately they never ended up getting any prettier like the red ones. If anything, the red roses also began to lose their luster.
On the last day of the week, Lila didn't bother look out the window before going downstairs. She didn't have breakfast with her father as he was already in front of the house, talking with the builders who were going to start building the new wall aroudn their house. Lila quickly finished her breakfast and ran into the yard. When she emerged from the hedges into the rose garden, she was happily surprised to see the rose man standing in front of the red roses like usual.
"It's you!" She exclaimed.
The rose man's shoulders twitched. Before he turned around, he reached for the tip of his hat and pulled it downwards. He turned to face Lila with his face slightly obscured. "Good day young Miss. My deepest apologies for being here. I'll be going now-"
"But why? You take the best care of the roses here! I thought you were here to fix them" Lila tilted her head to the side in confusion.
"'Fix'? I'm terribly sorry but I don't understand what you mean" The rose man sounded equally confused as Lila felt.
"I've seen you water the red roses! They got prettier and prettier the more you showed up! I tried to water the other colors but they don't get any prettier. And without you the red ones started to get less pretty too. Aren't you here to fix them?"
"Ah..." The rose man removed his hat, revealing a head of gray hair. He held his hat to his chest and bowed his head. "I apologize for the misunderstanding young Miss. However I have never watered these flowers, and I cannot fix them. I'm simply here, to say goodbye."
Lila finally got a good look at the man's face. He had a beard the same color as his hair. There were wrinkles on his face that were deeper than Lila's father's. His eyes were the same bright green as the picture of her mother. But most importantly, Lila saw that the rose man had been crying.
My Time Has Come
You know how it is.
You get into a hobby, you can’t bring yourself to throw anything out, it starts piling up, mom or dad or whoever your parental figure is just won’t get off your back to organize it, etc.
In my case, my parents were relentless in trying to throw out my notebooks.
Well well well Mom, guess who's laughing now. My years of procrastination in the classroom have finally paid off!
...Er, sort of anyway.
I've always been fascinated by survival shows and books and would write down things I thought were interesting in my notebooks. In hindsight Mom was right and the least I could've done is ripped out the actual factoids from between the math and history notes. But hey, without the Internet, I've had plenty of extra time to get it done.
Now all that being said, residule knowledge isn't everything. Composure is important too kids. I messed up, and pretty badly too. I was in the middle of a roadtrip upstate to see my brother when whatever EMP on steroids went off. I'd pulled over on the side of the road by some woods to gather materials. Gosh... why didn't I wait till the next day to do it? As the sun was setting? I must be thick in the head.
Theatrics aside, whoever was in those words got the jump on me. It's been a long running joke that I have bad luck, so I can only think it's some sort of cosmic coincidence that they didn't kill me. But they might as well have. They took the car and left me stranded. If that wasn't bad enough, when they knocked me out they also broke my glasses. I'm nearsighted to hell. At least they didn't take my backpack, but they probably just didn't see I had it in the dark.
I mentioned some infamous bad luck earlier right? Well hold onto your pants.
When I came to, the moon was high in the sky. I chose to try and climb a nearby tree to spend the night to minimize possible threats. In the dark I ended up grabbing some thorns and injurying my left hand. I fell and had the wind knocked out of me. After recovering from the fall, I opted to hike my way back up to the railing along the interstate. Sleeping directly on it seemed like it's own deathbed, but I wanted to keep my sense of direction before knocking out. I chose a soft patch of dirt nearby and layed down.
Then the heavens decided to bless me with rain. The patch of dirt quickly became mud and my heavy-sleeper-self didn't wake up until the very beginnings of a landslide. As I desperately swam through liquid earth and copious amounts of animal dung, gasping for air, I found myself at the bottom of a ravine. I used to tell myself that I loved rainy days, but that was as a person who grew up in the desert where I barely encountered any. I take it all back...
It was near impossible to hike back up where I'd been pushed down. The earth was still soft and muddy. I couldn't get a foothold anywhere. I had no food and the water didn't look clean. Staying in one spot until the land dried didn't seem viable either. Trying to trudge on in soaked and muddy clothes while exposed to the windy nights and blistering sun during the day wasn't much help either.
Eventually I found more even ground, but I also quickly learned that bears were in these woods. Not because I saw a bear, but because I stepped in a bear trap. I've always had a bad sense of time. I'm not sure exactly how long it's been since I got jumped, but I know it's been at least two since I got stuck with the bear trap.
I'm pretty sure I'm not gonna make it, so I tried my best to make sure my notebooks are still legible and not too soggy. Not sure how high the chances are of finding it, but the car with my stuff has the license plate number 8EBB460. It's a dark blue car. Not a van but you know a regular sized one. I'm not a car person, sorry for the crappy details. After I'm done writing this, it's going in the bag and I'm gonna chuck it into a tree so it hopefully lasts for a while.
This really sucks. I was kind of looking forward to seeing how I'd survive in the new age. I really wanted to grow a big vegetable garden, but my time has come. Good luck to the rest of you, may you never have my level of bad luck.