The Rose Garden

March 26, 2010
Tobias Phillips was a middle-aged man whose wife was dead and whose son was in jail, serving time for debt. All Tobias had were three of his oldest servants and a large, empty mansion. He was all alone, and was dying. And he knew death would soon come knocking on his door.

His servants James and Ruth had the day off, and his third servant was in the kitchen preparing lunch. His only solace was the portrait of his long-dead love, his gentle wife Marybeth. His only blood relation was his son Arthur, who was in debtor's jail. His only sanctuary that didn't remind him of the miseries of his life was his wife's rose garden, where they once sat while she was carrying Arthur, and they would read their favorite poem "Le Roman de la Rose."

Now, he had actually gotten up the strength and had gotten out of bed. Lunchtime was near, and he could smell the faint scent of chicken roasting and vegetable soup. He walked out into the hall, and, feeling his legs giving way beneath him, leaned on the wall to steady himself and regather his strength. His breathing was much worse today, and his speech was more slurred. He had lost an enormous amount of weight, and now looked far beyond his forty-five years of age.

He finally gathered his strength and walked down the corridor and down the stairs. He took each step carefully, so that he wouldn't fall. If he were going to die, he'd be damned if he were going to die by falling down the stairs. He finally reached the bottom step, and his face paled slightly. He'd felt very strange all day long. He felt extremely strange when he stepped on that last step.

He then walked suprisingly quickly to the back door, and slipped out. All at once, the sweet aroma of roses filled his nostrils. He swayed slightly, memories flowing through his mind. He steadied himself, and walked slowly and tentatively towards the rose garden. He came to the large, recatngular opening and peeked in. All at once, it took his breath away. It was more beautiful now than it had been twenty-five years ago. Marybeth's servant, Joanna, had kept it nice and neat, but Marybeth had told her not to do that, to let it grow wild. And now it had. The roses were so beautiful. There were yellow roses, red roses, white roses, pink roses, and even some black roses. But red roses dominated the fenced-off area near the bench where they used to sit. Oddly enough, the roses hadn't overtaken the bench. In fact, they had left it quite isolated just like it had always been.

He looked at the bench that he hadn't set eyes on nor sat in for twenty-five years. Then, he stepped forward. He walked to the fenced-off area. Then, he stepped into it. The roses surrounded him. He walked over to the bench, and sat down. As clear as day, he could remember the warmth of Marybeth's body as she sat next to him; he remembered the scent of her soft brown curls as she lay her head on his shoulder; he remembered her light, soft voice as she read aloud from whatever book they were reading that day.

His heart still ached when he thought of her. He looked around him at the roses. They seemed to embrace him. He then looked at a rose near to him. He gasped in amazement as Marybeth's face appeared on the rose. But the image disappeard almost as quickly as it had appeared. He reached out and touched the rose gently. He then felt the odd sensation again, and he felt the roses brush against his face. He smiled and murmured,"Marybeth..." so softly, it seemed as if he hadn't said anything at all. Then, his eyes fluttered shut, and he fell back and let the roses embrace him.

Then there was peace.





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