Amazing what all can change in the span of a single season. What was once a vast, empty lot of untouched soil had now transformed into an incredible display of vivid colors. There were beautiful blue-petal seas, vibrant violet waterfalls, and amber spirals as warm as the sun.
In the center of the yard, nearly lost amidst a forest of sparkling green vines and lush crimson corollas, there was one peculiar little speck of pink. A rose, undeniably as lovely as the red roses ringing around it, refusing to blend in, and thus daring to stand out. Despite being surrounded by more mature, passion-inspiring blossoms, the quieter flower still managed to be remarkably eye-catching.
It was Rosalina, seedling of The Gardeness, who first took notice of the rosebud, back when every other rose around had bloomed. Curious, the young one questioned her mother about the late bloomer, and was taught that the true secret to gardening was love.
The entirety of spring had been spent trying to coax the shy flower from its protective petals.
Rosalina would sing, and tell stories, and share her drawings; everything she would try in order to befriend another human being. Finally, after all of her efforts, timid petals spilled outward, and a young, fresh flower opened up to the world just in time for summer. Blush was the name awarded to the flower for its shy nature, and for being the most noticeable, and attractive blemish in the garden.
As the large garden's centerpiece, Blush drew the attention of many searching for precious plants to purchase. However, The Gardeness had grown fond of the blushing treasure, believing it a good luck charm, and refused so many offers that a "Not For Sale" sign now hung above it, warding away potential buyers.
The exotic love songs blown through the wind by her luscious red neighbors, and the intense stares given by denied buyers caused the bashful blossom to shrink and shiver. Blush was certain all the special attention she received would lead to her wilting or shriveling up before the summer ended. Thankfully, the garden had a new, unexpected arrival that just suddenly sprung up from the earth overnight.
On display directly across from her was a one-of-a-kind rarity. Another rose, darker than midnight with white highlights painted throughout its petals. An inverse pair with pure, snow white petals framed the unnatural plant on either side. The Gardeness was super excited to add these incredible specimen to her collection, and Blush was relieved to have a break from the smoldering spotlight for once. The air was filled with intoxicating scents that day as the other flowers gossiped about the new arrivals.
Nova and Bianco, the two white roses, were very adamant purists when it came to color for plants. They believed only the white flowers had any opinion that mattered, and were very animated when arguing this belief with the entire garden. In stark contrast, the dark flower in between the two stayed very still and silent during the heated discussions.
Omen, the black rose, was mysterious. No one knew where it had come from, and most were skeptical of his authenticity. For better or for worse, he was the most talked about flower in the garden. Those same eyes of appraisal that caused Blush to cower seemed to nurture him. Just the way he swelled and cockily swayed in the breeze, all charm and grace, never a petal out of place, was truly captivating to watch.
As long as all they did was watch. Omen had a wicked habit of viciously pricking any creature foolish enough to brush against him. Only The Gardeness he allowed to handle him, and even she did so cautiously, warning Rosalina to stay away. However, as with all children, Rosalina's curiosity often got the better of her...
It had been an ordinary summer day. The sun was shining, feeding the sprouts, the air was thick with exuberant scents, and all the flowers were singing and dancing in the breeze. Blush had for the seventh time this month sent a message of unrequited adulation through the wind to a rather aggressively attracted violet across the yard.
At that moment, Rosalina let loose a startling yelp. All life in the garden froze as the mother spirit came to check on her daughter. "I'm bleeding, mommy! I'm bleeding!" shouted the panicked girl.
"Serves you right for trying to pluck my petals, you little monster!" spoke a disturbing aura that polluted the air with a tainted smell. The tall figure crouched to coddle the small sobbing one, shushing her worry with motherly warmth while giving the offender devil eyes.
"I don't give a damn how special you think you are!" growled The Gardeness in a tone no flower had heard her use before. "You prick my daughter again and I'll turn you into mulch!" The threat went without reply until Gardeness and seedling both were too far away to catch the resentful swaying that shouted, "I dare you to try!"
Once all the commotion had ended, the garden erupted in whispers. "How could he treat young Rosalina like that? There's something about him I never liked... I bet he's evil!" sang the gossiping flowers in concert. Bianco and Nova quickly sprang to his defense.
"Close your calyxes you ugly colored creeps! That irresponsible little brat would have ripped our poor boy from his roots had he not defended himself!" Of course, this only rattled a beehive of angry retorts from every flower present. The air was heavy now, flooded with enough heated responses to lift a hot-air balloon.
As the argument raged on, the shy little flower began to shut in on herself in an attempt to block out all of the negativity. Before she did, she took one final glimpse at the arrogant black bloom.
"I wonder why he's always like that," asked a curious Blush to no one in particular. Unfortunately, the wind picked that exact instant to spread her question through the air.
A few moments later, the wind returned, asking, "Why am I like what?" The inquiry came from Omen himself, which flustered the bashful Blush.
"Um.. Uh..." her petals stuttered, uncertain of what to say.
"Spit it out already!" an angry gust rustled her leaves.
"I-I was just curious as to why you act so mean toward your admirers? Is it really that horrible to be touched by someone?"
"If they have the nerve to get that close to me, then they deserve a prick from my thorns!"
"But... it isn't their fault that you draw them in. With your exotic colors, and alluring sway, it must be a hard temptation to resist." The other rose chuckled at her compliments, which tickled her leaves. Realizing what she had said, the blushing flower felt as if giddy ants were travelling up her stem. Feeling anxious, she quickly changed the subject.
"Um... does what The Gardeness said worry you at all? You know, about being turned to mulch?"
"Not at all. I'm a one and only; the biggest attraction in this garden next to you." She flittered slightly in embarrassment. "Let me ask you a question. Why do you always act so timid? Are you so fragile that an admiring glance may reduce you to ash?"
"No, of course not! It's just... I don't feel comfortable with so many eyes focused solely on me. Especially when there are so many other, much more gorgeous flowers here that truly deserve their attention. I mean, I'm just a—"
"That is ridiculous. You are a beautiful flower. You were made to be admired for your beauty! And not a single blossom in this garden will be able to compete once you embrace that fact."
The brashness of his tone hushed the timid rose. She was certainly unsettled by his bold assertion, yet at the same time, inspired by his empowering affirmation. In the brief silence that followed, his words sunk in deep.
By the time Blush thought of a response, a giddy, smiling Rosalina returned, brandishing a colorful bandage on her finger. Knowing better than to play with the roses, she decided to dance and sing with the daffodils.
That signaled the end of their first interaction. Awkward, but very enlightening. Later in the day when the rush of people coming to buy flowers arrived, and all eyes were again on her, his advice resonated within her.
As if the breeze were a manifestation of her own instinct, she began to move freely. Her fragrance poured from her core, ripening the air with an alluring aroma. She thought of Omen, of his encouraging words and his own arrogant swaggering, and subconsciously mimicked his movements in her subtle dance.
It was again the young Rosalina that spotted the blemish. She tugged on her mother's overalls, and pointed out the gorgeous flower flitting to and fro with attitude. It only took seconds for all of the attention garnered by the rarity to be diverted to the blushing rose.
This time, the shy blossom seemed to swell in the spotlight. Every captivated eye in the garden watched her graceful routine, and she enjoyed every moment. Though the highlight was easily when, faintly heard over the murmuring appraisal, came his congratulatory whisper.
"Well done." That single confirmation brought Blush the joy of a thousand jitterbugs.
As the air stilled, she ended her spectacular performance to an uproar of applause. Demands for the blushing rose came rapidly, and though the offers were tempting, The Gardeness refused them all, selling bundles of bouquets for the same high prices. Many other flowers were sold until sunset, when the exhausted Gardeness closed shop. Before entering the house, she made sure to engage the little flower that generated so much business.
"I knew you were a lucky charm. I can't believe a bashful thing like you put on such a show though. What's gotten in to you, girl? I might have to take some dancing lessons from you if I ever want to bring a guy home." High compliments she received from the mother spirit made the pink rose redden in embarrassment.
She had The Gardeness' appraisal, and it was all thanks to Omen. She wasted no time gushing out her gratitude.
"You were right! I never thought I could be capable...but I did it, and it was so much fun! Ooh, maybe I'll do it again. What do you think? Would that be showing off?" It wasn't until her enthusiastic ramblings were met with a concise, "Hmm" that she realized her new friend was busy. "Uh... what's that thing flapping above your head?"
"A butterfly," he answered quickly, doing his best to stay still and not attract anymore attention. Unfortunately, his swift reply was enough to gain the insect's interest. It landed directly on its center. Instantly, the steam rose from the midnight-petaled rose as it emitted a hateful, putrid stench. The flower actually growled its fury, wanting nothing more than to impale the winged creepy crawling on its thorns. Seeing his frustration growing to a murderous rage, Blush called out.
"Just calm down! It isn't going to hurt you!" She did her best to whisper soothingly, but she was unsure if he had heard her.
"Get off of me you stupid thing, before you go and ruin me!" he seethed. The butterfly seemed unconcerned with the black bloom's wishes, and started its search for food. This prompted a furious shout, as Omen shook violently, desperately attempting to buck the beast off. Only after a solid minute of this fruitless action did he hear the pink one giggling. "What about this horrible situation is humorous to you?"
It took a moment for her to respond, but she finally gasped out, "Y-you look pretty silly... with that thing crawling all around!" The ridiculousness of what he had been doing took hold, and just as quickly, the butterfly finished its meal, and took off into the night. "See! That wasn't so bad, right?" she asked when the giggles finally left her. "Not everything that touches you is malicious. You shouldn't go around stabbing things. Besides, you aren't so fragile that you'll crumble at the slightest brush of contact."
He was utterly stumped. The timid thing he had coached into being brave had in one day become his own tutor for the exact same lesson. She continued giggling, and he couldn't help but to chuckle with her.
The next morning, the two roses had an amazing dialogue. "Do you ever wish you could walk around like The Gardeness?" "Only so that I could be closer to you." Feelings normally foreign to flowers, festered in them both. They even managed to convince the two snow white purists to get along with all the other flora.
"Who is that you're talking to?" asked Nova.
"It's not another one of those colored freaks giving you trouble again, right?" questioned Bianco.
"Nah, Blush isn't any trouble. In fact, I bet you'd like her if you gave her a chance."
So they did, and it turned out that Omen was correct. After a long day of discussing a variety of topics, the two plants truly warmed up to Blush. "I have to admit, you're different from the rest of these dye-stained jerks," commented Bianco.
"It must be because she's only half-red and half-white," joked Nova.
The following weeks were all filled with laughs and moments to remember. Blush won a contest The Gardeness entered her in for most beautiful flower. Omen begrudgingly allowed the ever-curious Rosalina to pet his petals. Most importantly, the two flowers had never gone a day or night without talking about life, about fun, and especially about love. Though neither confessed to one another, it was obvious to even The Gardeness that the two had a thing for each other.
By August's end, and autumn fast approaching, most of the garden had been sold away. Even Nova and Bianco were bought to be woven into a leafy tiara worn by a bride. Omen and Blush were the only two roses left.
Rosalina had been singing and dancing for the two when the mother spirit approached them. She crouched down to hug her seedling before sending her to bed, and waited until the girl was inside to address her other children.
"I've spent the last week contemplating what I want to do with you two. Blush, when I first saw you, I knew you were special. I saw in you a daring spirit, hidden beneath that timorous exterior. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that you would conquer that fearful side as ferociously as you have. It's honestly inspired me to face a few challenging aspects of my own personality. I'm sure it has something to do with that jerk over there, but I feel so proud of you. It might be strange to say, but you are like a daughter to me, and you've made me so proud!
"And you!" she wiped a tear off her cheek as she turned to the abnormality growing in her yard. "I want you to know that I meant my threat after you hurt my precious Rosalina. Still, you've seemed to soften, and no doubt it was thanks to this gorgeous lady's influence. I don't know what to say, other than I'm glad I didn't have to pulverise you. If she is a daughter, than you are the son I never had. A very cool, very unique son. I'm glad I got to see the two of you grow, and even more special, fall in love. Which is why it makes what's to come so much more difficult.
"I can't sell you two. Doing it now, after I refused all those bids for so long... it just feels cheap to me. I can't hand you over to anyone unworthy. Many people don't treat plants with the respect they deserve, and I won't accept that sort of fate for you. Besides, I'd be a monster to even consider splitting up your budding romance. I may not be into the sappy stuff, but I have the heart of a romantic myself.
"I also refuse to just let you two droop, and decay like weeds in the winter. You two mean far too much to me to watch that become a reality. The sight alone would break my heart. I want to do something special with you. Something that commemorates your connection, but I want your consent before I start making decisions for you. I can't wait too long, since I want to get you before the deteriorating begins. So, please discuss it amongst yourselves tonight, and we'll figure out your futures together in the morning."
Needless to say, that long monologue from the mother spirit touched both roses deeply. There was so much genuine compassion shown to them, that it contextualized their own understandings of what love truly was. The speech also sparked an endless chatter in the two. They expressed their love to one another in every possible way they knew how, expecting tomorrow to be their final possibility to do so.
By morning, a decision had been reached. Rosalina had been made to do the honors. Scissors in hand, she snipped both roses as close to the roots as she could. The experience of finally being free from that single spot, to be held in the palm that gave them birth above the rest of the garden, it was a sensation akin to floating on a cloud in heaven.
The Gardeness wasted no time binding the two flowers by the vines. When they were properly intertwined, closer to one another than they ever fathomed possible, they both whispered, "I love you." The next step was being dipped in a gel meant to dry them out. It was essentially their final collective moments, and they filled it by echoing those same three words, "I love you... I love you..." until the world faded away.
Long after they were nothing more than shells of life, The Gardeness worked quickly to preserve their image. The two were placed inside a glass frame, decorated by the little seedling herself. The framed flowers were sent to an art museum, where they could be admired as a true expression of love by many from all over the world. No pair of eyes that passed the flower couple could resist feeling warm inside, as they all gossiped with one another about the amazing Rosemantic exhibit.