Every Rose has its Thorn
Rose Ford watched the ripples in the pool and let reality wash over her. Summer was pretty much over. Tomorrow, she would be back to the horrors of school; the crowded noisy hallways, teachers, homework, and sleepless nights.
Her friends could relax on the last day of summer. They were swimming and laughing and having fun. The fact that tomorrow they would be juniors in high school seemed to have no affect on their mood. The pool should have made her forget her worries. Why couldn't she be like her friends? She looked at her best friend Katie. She was swimming underwater graciously, her red hair flowing behind her.
Katie pulled herself out of the water and sat on the pool wall with Rose. Her long straight red hair was slicked perfectly back from the water and her eyes were as blue as the pool. She had a heart shaped face and a small petite figure. Katie had a pretty privileged life. Her family was wealthy and her life was all planned out for her. Graduate from high school, live her life. Not to mention, she was one of the prettiest girls at Liberty High. That's probably why she was anything but nervous to get back to school.
Rusty was in the deep end of the pool, trying to impress a few girls with his handstands. Sitting on the edge, laughing at Rusty's many failed attempts, was his cousin, Peter. The two behaved more like brothers than cousins. They both looked somewhat alike with their blue-green eyes and boyish faces. One of the only really noticeable differences in their appearances was Peter's straight black hair and Rusty's messy bronze hair.
Peter Harris had been Rose's best guy friend since they were both five. They met at a playground near Rose's house. They're parents became friends and Peter and Rose saw more of each other. Ever since then, the Harris's and the Fords became like one big family.
Rusty came from another middle school and started high school with Rose, Peter, and Katie. Rusty began to hang out with his cousin and his friends. Through Peter, Rose came to like Rusty. Through Rose, Peter learned to like Katie. Unfortunately, they could never get Rusty and Katie to like each other. Still, they were a group from then on.
The girls were now giggling flirtatiously next to Peter. Anger and jealousy bubbled up inside of Rose. She had nothing on those girls. They were beautiful. Rose knew she wasn't ugly, but average. She looked down at her reflection in the pool. She had straight brown hair as well as large brown eyes, but she didn't feel there was a feature on her face that was particularly beautiful.
Rusty sat next to Peter quietly on the pool wall, pouting at his lost audience. Peter saw Rose and waved. He turned apologetically to the girls and they glared at Rose as he swam over. "Hey, Rose, Katie," he said, as he made it to the wall they were sitting on.
"Hey," the girls said together.
"Look at Royce," Katie said adoringly. Royce had stolen Rusty's girls and Rusty was now making his way to them, realizing the lost cause.
Royce Ericson was your stereotypical football player. He was absolutely gorgeous with his handsome face and large biceps. He also came from a very rich family, just like Katie. His dad owned half the buildings in town.
Rose looked over at Katie and smiled. She knew her best friend had had a crush on Royce since last year. She normally liked a different boy every week, but she seemed to be stuck on Royce all summer.
He looked over at her and winked. "Rose! Rose! Did you see that!? Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh! What do you think he meant by it!? Do you think it was just casual or do you think that he likes me?"
"Katie, Calm down," Rose said laughing. "Besides, I think you're about to find out. He's coming towards us."
Royce was running like Baywatch on concrete. A distant "no running" was heard, but he didn't seem to notice.
"Hello, Katie," he said. He stood towering over them, looking at Katie with a sort of longing in his eyes. He ran his hand through his perfect wet blond hair. "How are you?"
"I'm good. How are you?" she said. Her mouth remained agape, and her face looked shocked.
"Great. Well, I guess I'll see you tomorrow at school," he said casually. He ran back to the girls he was talking to before and they welcomed him back excitedly.
"Yeah, I guess you will," she replied, a little too late. She remained shocked from the random encounter.
Rusty pulled himself out of the water and sat on the wall next to Peter. He shook out his swim shirt, which was sticking to his body. He looked at Peter with a defeated face. "I'm ready to go home now," he said. "I still have to look up my schedule for school tomorrow." He stood up, shook his hair all over Katie, who finally broke out of her trance and screamed so loud that the life guards looked around for a drowning victim, and ran to Peter's car before Katie could get revenge. Peter held his hand out to Rose, and she took it and stood up.
Peter's car was small and comfortable; perfect for the four of them. Sure the paint job wasn't the best and the car wasn't exactly new, but it was his. Rose and Katie sat in the back, with Peter and Rusty in the front. Rose finally convinced herself to relax. Now was not a time of worry. Tomorrow, school would start. She would officially be in her junior year. Now, she should have fun. Peter dropped off Katie, who made sure to smack Rusty upside the head before leaving. Then he dropped off Rusty, and finally they reached Rose's house.
"Do you want to stay for dinner?" Rose asked Peter.
"I don't think so. I promised my mom that I would take Joey to the park before dinner. Sorry, but thanks. I'll see you tomorrow."
"Yeah, see you tomorrow. Thanks for the ride."
Rose opened the front door to her house. Her Yorkshire terrier ran up to her. "Hey, Max," she said. She hugged him and carried him towards the stairs with her. "Mom," she called. "Where are you?"
Mrs. Ford came out from the kitchen and gave her daughter a hug; Max yelped as he got crushed in between them. "Hey, Sweetie, how was your day?"
"It was great, Mom." She ran up the stairs to her room. She wanted to get everything ready as soon as possible, so she could sleep early tonight, without any worries.
Rose looked up her schedule on the school's website, checked all her supplies lists, packed her bag, and then repeated it all about ten more times before she heard her dad walk through the front door and her mom call her down for dinner.
Mr. Ford sat stiffly in his seat. "So, Ethan," he said to Rose's little brother, trying to break the awkward silence. "Are you planning on bringing me straight A's this year?"
Ethan squirmed uncomfortably in his seat, his mouth full of spaghetti.
"Dad, he's nine. Don't you think it's a little early for him to be making promises like that?" Rose said, trying to save her little brother. Ethan looked at his father nervously. They never wanted trouble with their dad, but an argument always broke out whenever Rose tried to have a conversation with him.
"It's never too early to succeed, Roseanne," he said. To her relief, he let Ethan go, but then eyed her, as if switching targets. "What about you? Are you going to give me straight A's this year?"
"Dad, I'm in high school. It's not that easy. I can't just say, 'Yeah, sure, no problem' and then succeed like that."
"I don't like excuses, Roseanne."
"And I don't like breaking promises."
"Are you already planning to fail?" he asked, raising his voice. He slammed his fork on the table and waited for her response. Their simple dinner small-talk had once again turned into a problem.
"No, Dad. Of course not… I'll get straight A's." She just wanted him to drop it. Rose wished she could just for once have a normal calm conversation with her dad. She looked down. Ethan was looking from his father to his sister. Rose saw her dad's eyes watch her for a minute, out of the corner of her eyes. She didn't dare look back. Finally, he dropped his gaze and continued eating.
"Hey Rose," Peter said, standing timidly on the porch. "I'm sorry, I know it's really late, but you forgot your towel in my car." He held up the red towel, but Rose didn't take it. She stepped out onto the porch and shut the front door.
Finally, she took the towel from him, hung it on the arm of the bench, and sat down on the steps. Peter followed her lead. "Peter," she said, "are you stressed about tomorrow? Can you believe we're juniors in high school? Just yesterday we were playing in the sandbox."
He was quiet for a second, then let out a sigh and looked up. "Yeah, I believe it. Rose, we're still kids. You may think, 'Wow, I've been living for sixteen years now!' But think about it, our lives have only started. Think about how much more we have to go, Rose." He was watching the sky as he said this. He turned to look at her and smiled. She felt a small sense of realization and relief wash over her after what he said. She needed to think about her future, but she shouldn't let go of what was happening in the present. She needed to enjoy her life.
Rose's gaze was towards Peter's bright and excited eyes. His voice was enthusiastic, as if the best thing in the world was just for life to go on.
Rose was still staring at his eyes, and he looked back into hers as they heard the front door swing open. Her father stepped out, breaking the silence and causing Rose to jump to her feet.
"Hello, Mr. Ford," Pete said politely. He stood up quickly, extending his hand.
Mr. Ford shook it firmly with a small smile on his face. "How are you doing today, Peter? Are you ready for tomorrow?" Mr. Ford had always liked Peter. After spending so much time with his family, he had developed the idea that Peter was the perfect child.
Peter stepped back. "Yes, sir," he said. He looked at Rose. "See you tomorrow."
He walked down the sidewalk in the direction of his house. Mr. Ford waited for Rose to enter the house before he walked in himself and shut the door.
Rose sat on her bed. Her TV was set to her favorite teen drama. The main character just got pregnant and was now deciding between putting it up for adoption and keeping the baby. Max was laying down her lap. The clock read ten. She figured she better get to sleep if she wanted to wake up early for school tomorrow. She shut off the light and TV. Max yelped and jumped off the bed as she switched to her stomach. Her arms were tucked underneath the pillow.
Rose thought of Peter to help her fall asleep. She thought of his midnight black hair, his bright, mesmerizing eyes. She thought of how he had always been there for her, how he could always make her feel better. She thought of how she loved him.
If she were with Peter, the whole world would be perfect. She had a theory that if she could get Peter to be her boyfriend, it would solve all her troubles. Her father would be so proud of her, too.
She always wondered whether Peter felt the same way. She decided she wanted to make this her year. This would be the year that she kept the promise about straight A's to her dad, the year that she decided what she wanted to do with the rest of her life, and this would be the year that she told her friend Peter that she loved him.