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.