A flower in the sand. In this hell of a desert, the only image of life in this vast expanse of rocks, sand, and emptiness.

Or it was.

I frowned at the skeletal remains of the bloom that once stayed with me. How could something so calming be so destructive? How could the desert I roam be so chaotic, so deadly? I raised my hand and the dead petals and stems blow away, disappearing into the blasting sands, just like everything else that walks this wasteland.

I made my way along carefully, never stopping. If I did stop, I would die. But if I didn't, I would die. It seemed impossible that someone, let alone me, would last this long. I was surprised I did. The thought of finally leaving this accursed place haunted my dreams for ages, the thought of leaving this hell on earth was intoxicated, almost as much as the hot sun pelting down on me, sending cold fevers running up and down my spine. It had been forever I'd seen anything besides the cold, heartless gold of the sands, or the petals of life provided by the desert rose, or my own, trudging form along the dunes.. But now the life was gone, and I was sure mine would surely follow. At the time, I didn't care. I had stopped caring about what would happen to me. The rose was like my last link to life. Without it I might as well die. Outside this desert, there was nothing for me to go back to. If I couldn't even save a single flower from death, there was no assurance that I could do the same for myself.

I pulled my hood over my head, peering through the black veil so I could see through the storm that buffeted my body. I crunched throught the death of the land, walking carefully through dead plants and what seemed to be damp sand, which was soon covered by the storm. It probably used to be an oasis. A heaven in the middle of a hell...

I kicked up yellow desert grass that was able to grow in the soft, damp sand, furious at how grass, above all things, was allowed to grew here. Why not trees, or shrubs, or ferns? Why should grass grow here? I fumed slightly at their uselessness as I came upon the remains of a bush a few steps later. I stared blankly at the skeleton, trying to think of what kind of plant it must have been. My mind couldn't bring any particular shrubbery to mind and I merely stood there, staring at the yellowed and blackened branches. My face suddenly stang with a slight tear, burning a path down my cheek. I pushed the veil against my skin to absorb the small amount of water. It was useless to cry; there was no point. I didn't want to spend the remains of my short life out here in the desert mourning over the death of a plant. It was probably just a couple of hours before I would breath my last, sandy breathe out here, and then there would be no reason nor cause to cry.

I jerked back to myself, rubbing the course cloth against my face in admonition, making my skin red and stinging. Thinking about my inivetable death wasn't helping my mood. I trudged up a dune and slid down the other side, getting sand everywhere in my clothes. I positioned myself on the lee of the mound and leaned against the steep surface, closing my eyes momentarily.

I don't know if I even passed into slumber, or, if I did, how long I was out. But when I came to, I saw a green blur ahead of me. I squinted and tried to focus. It seemed to change constantly. Was it even there? It was a giant mass of green, something I haven't seen for months. Green...or was it green? It could've been blue or purple or pink for all I could remember. No, it was green, the sky, or what I could see of it, was blue. And I was seeing a green...shimmer in front of me.

I cautiously got up, brushing off what sand blew on me. I took a couple of steps, cocking my head a little to see if the blur disappeared. To my luck, it didn't. Or, perhaps, not my luck. It very well be a mirage over some sort of cliff or deep decline that could lead me to my bloody doom. I walked further on, faster, until I was all out running towards the unimaginable green blur. As I ran, it slowly become clearer. It became brances, trees, green ones, not just decayed stumps. Grass, plants, flowers, oh! The flowers! A menagerie of flowers, in all stages of bloom except death. Iris, cacti, thorny ocotillo, primrose, orchids, even radiant epiphyllum. I continued running, slowing to a walk and pulling off my viel as I realized that the dreaded desert storm didn't reach me deep within this oasis. I stopped momentarily and looked around, something catching my eye. It was a bush of wild roses, all violent red akin to rich blood, its petals bursting out of the rich green leaves, a sign of life. My heart thudded as I reached forward, unsure if it was real or not. The tips of my fingers lightly brushed the soft petals. I gasped. I gently rubbed the petals lightly between my fingers, their silky texture foreign to my numbed fingers, so soft that it was almost painful.

"I see you like the garden?"

I whirled around and almost fell onto the bush I so adored. There was a woman standing above me, watching me with inquisitive eyes. She was absolutely beautiful, perhaps one of the prettiest creatures that I've ever seen. Her face was round and earthy, her eyes reflecting the immense viridian color of the oasis. She was dressed simply, her rich body covered by a simple pale dress. But the thing that stuck out about her was her hair. It was a furious gold, like the desert dunes in the earliest or latest times of the day, when the temperature drops so far that it is once again as uninhabitable as the light hours.

"Who are you?" I asked, straightening myself.

"Me?" she said, pointing to herself. "I am unimportant. You are unimportant. This whole garden is unimportant. But that fact, too, is unimportant." She smiled lightly. "Do you like the garden?"

I found myself caught momentarily off-guard by her hospitality and spontaneous philosophy. "I...I love it," I managed, though I didn't follow her views and expressed so: "But...this place is important."

"How so?" she asked, angling her head slightly, her brilliant hair hanging off her shoulder.

"This...place...is like a-a heaven in a hell!" I exclaimed, thowing out my arms and turning around slightly, "life in death, hope in despair. I thought I was dead when I got here! I couldn't think I could see such beauty before I die." I sighed and dropped my arms, and turned back towards her. "It's a gift."

"Hmm," the woman hummed cheerfully, quite obviously not believing me. "Perhaps it is."

"What?" She ignored me and drifted behind me to the roses. She bent down and plucked one off, much to my horror.

"Don't do that!" I yelled. She gazed at me queerly.

"Why not? There are plently more," she said plainly.

"You can't just take one! It's like a person in a family, if you take him, the others despair. Now that rose has no chance to get stronger with being cut off from the roots and the nutrients it needs from the mother plant." We both stared at the rest of the rose bush for a second. I flushed, realizing that the roses don't actually despair and the woman probably didn't care.

"Look," the woman said, walking about ten feet away, facing me, and kneeling down. She placed the plucked rose down, and, with her thin fingers, started digging. She didn't dig a very deep hole, but deep enough to cover about half of the rose's stem when it was buried. When the rose stood erect in the ground, she placed her hands gently against the soft ground around it. The rose suddenly sprouted, growing rapidly, branches budding off it and more flowers growing from it until it was another full bush, much like the first one. The woman stood up, brushing off her dress, which wasn't dirty at all, and walked back over to me.

"Look. That bush came from a flower that came from another bush, plucked off like you didn't want me to. If I never took that flower, would it have grown into the bush it is now?" I shook my head, still unable to believe that the bush came from near nowhere. "When a person grows, they must leave home to create their own home. If they never did that, that new household would never exist. But if they never leave, they will always gain the wealth their parents give them. Let me ask, did you want to leave home when you did?"

I shook my head. "I left home much too early."

"Do you think that the rose wanted to leave it's home on it's stem? I forced it to leave; it didn't have a choice of it's own. Let me ask another question: did you want to enter this desert?"

Once again I shook my head. "No. It could've very well killed me."

"But, because you entered this desert, you've come across my garden. You see, you say that everything is important. It is. Without the mother plant, the younger plant would've never grown to what it is now." The woman motioned to each of the rose bushes, respectively. "Yet they aren't important, because the younger is going to do the same thing as the younger. There is not difference between this generation and the next. They are the same." The woman turned to me, taking both of my hands in hers. I ran a finger absently over the back of her dark, smooth skin.

"You are unimportant because you are just a little bit, just a little ant on this world. But you are also important because you will get this." The woman placed her hands palm down on mine and a strange feeling, like something coming out of my hand, started in the center of my palm. She raised her hands and a plant sprouted from my hands, blooming instantly. I gasped as it turned into the exact same flower that first joined me on this journey, with four soft pink petals, its stem a plump light green color, a plant I hadn't seen it what seemed like years.

"Now you have a new goal. Protect this flower with your life." I closed my hand around the flower and it seemed to vanish in my hand. The woman reached up and pulled my veil back over my head. I could see her step away in front of me, still facing me, an egnimatic smile over her face. Beyond her I could see the garden shrinking, being eatn bit by bit by the sands as they poured over the ancient greens, until reaching me and blasting over me. I threw up my arms until it passed. When I looked up, the oasis was gone, replaced by the vast expanse of desert that had became my life.