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A Simple Rose

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A long scar marked his face from his eyebrow to the corner of his lip. People feared his gaze but when they thought he didn't notice they looked at him curiously. "What happened to his face," They wondered. Indeed, what happened to his face? What kind of accident did he survive? But, no one knew. He preferred to be alone, away from people's pity, curiosity, and judgment.
He was so afraid of judgments that he refused to allow his picture to be taken. He was ashamed of his face; it was a curse no one should bear.
Additionally to his face, he was tall, towering well over the average man. He was broad-shouldered and well-built. His mere height and build made him intimidating. Along with his all black wardrobe, no one wanted to talk to him and everyone wanted to avoid him.
He was intimidating and strong in appearance but, really, he was afraid. Afraid to open up because someone would laugh at him. Afraid to show his face because someone would stare at him. Afraid to draw attention to himself because someone would pity him. He could never accept that someone could value his thoughts and personality. Or that someone could look past his skin-deep scar. He was angry he was alone but accepted that he always would be.
His physical appearance and quiet nature helped him in his job as a security guard for an expensive high rise. Every day men and women walked through those doors in expensive suits, watches, and jewelry. Every day he watched as they went about their business and he stood in the shadows with a bulletproof vest and black clothes. He spent his employment outside in the heat or cold while his employers spent their days in a temperature-controlled building.
To his employers and clients he was like a wall. A constant figure in the landscape for one unassuming purpose. He was really like pepper spray in a women's purse, the thought of its presence nearby giving confidence and safety because of its potential use. So, he was an ominous safety-net, and was viewed in such a way by most.
Besides his job he did nothing. None of his coworkers felt familiar with him enough to invite him to a bar after work or barbecues on the weekends. He woke up every morning, went to work, then went home for a lonely dinner and sleep. But unlike other men his age, he refused to look himself in the mirror. When he did the image of his scar reminded him of a life altering accident and a past he could never return to. The thought, "If I can't stand to look at myself, why would anyone else?" always occurred to him.
One of the most important days of his life started out like any other. He woke up from a dreamless rest, showered shaved (carefully avoiding his scar), put his pants on one leg at a time and his boots one foot at a time. When he arrived at work he put his gear on and clocked in. He took up his regular position without anyone noticing. He put on an unassuming, yet serious, expression and watched people bustle about their, no doubt, extremely important business.
A small commotion received his attention. A woman in a gray pantsuit with a satin blue blouse, with slicked back blond hair in a neat and precise bun was hunched over the ground cursing and picking up items from a fallen purse. Nearby a young girl of about six stood crying softly and apologizing profusely. She wore jeans, a pink shirt, pink sneakers, and her long blond hair was pulled back into a pony tail with wavy hair falling down her back. After the woman collected her belongings she took the child's hand firmly, told her to stop crying, and dragged the child after her.
He felt sorry for the girl because he knew her mother was more focused on a career than anyone in her family. He guessed that the child was raised by a series of nannies but thought that today must be her day off. Now the mostly absent mother was forced to take on a role she wasn't familiar with (not qualified for either) and juggle her career. He felt sorry for the girl because she feared her mother simply because they didn't know each other. It made him sad as well.
"Why put a child in this world if you refuse to be responsible for it?" He grumbled.
For the rest of the day he looked for the pair out of curiosity, mild disgust, and pity. It wasn't until an hour before his shift was over that he saw a glimpse of the mother. Her usually precise and poise appearance was no longer. She sported stray hairs from her bun, a dark spot on her jacket, and an exhausted expression. He wondered where the little girl had gone until something pulled on his pants leg. He looked down and there was the little girl.
Though her cheeks were puffy and red and her eyes were sad, she looked up at him with a smile.
"Excuse me, sir." She said. He didn't know how to react or respond. Here was a purely innocent child with an unmarred face and a lifetime ahead of her speaking to "him".
Eventually he knelt to her level and said, "Yes?"
"I wanted to give you this." She smiled pleasantly as she held up a real rose.
"It's my favorite flower. Anita says that the best present is to give something you love. She's smart. She says you should try doing one good thing. She said the best was making someone smile. Will you smile, sir, so I can tell I did something good today?"
He was speechless to her narrative but took the flower and said, "Thank you." Next, he smiled for her. She gleamed back and then ran back to her mother. The mother then pushed her into a black car opened by a chauffeur in a crisp suit and then followed.
The chauffeur closed the door, and drove off with the most precious cargo.
All the while he held the rose in his hand not sure what to do with it. He inspected it. The thorns were clipped off, the leaves droopy, and petals waxy. Despite it's flaws and inevitable death it was still the most beautiful flower he'd ever seen. So he tucked the fragile blossom in his work shirt for the rest of his shift.
-The End



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