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Everywhere I go, people sigh at my beauty. Poets speak of me all the time. I turn up in Hollywood movies every now and then. One would think that it is enough to win his heart.
When had I fallen in love with him?
When he stood quietly, listening with a hint of shame at others' boasting, and my heart felt all soft and mushy from wanting to tell him that he is perfect to me, and I love him the way he is?
When the wind brought his songs to my ears, caressing my cheek gently as I woke up every morning? When he was soaring up high, and my whole being longed to be there with him to taste his freedom? When he started to steal into my dreams? When I wondered about Love, and he popped up first in my head.
When... When indeed?
At times like this, one could only turn to the Elder.
"Hush, my child. I know the answer you seek, but the truth lies within you, so why ask?"
"Tell me then, Wise One. How is it that my heart betrayed me? Why would I love something so plain?"
"Child, you like to pretend to be unaffected by what you call a redundant feeling: Love. You build a layer of defense around you so thick that anyone who approaches could only ready themselves to be hurt."
"But will things be easier if I stop pretending to be strong? My pride would not allow myself to show any trace of weakness."
"Yes, you are proud and prickly by nature. And maybe you're paying the price now."
"What do you mean?"
"Love is a lesson Nature intends to teach each and every one of us. Love is never a choice you will get to make. It could be a happy lesson, it could be sad. No one ever knows."
"But why must it be sad? Is Love not glorify by everyone? How can something so beautiful be so painful?"
"Look at yourself, does everyone else not say the same of you? But what is beneath that exterior of yours, no one knows, not even yourself. So how can you ask of Love, something even more complex?"
"I just... want to know why! I do not mind loving him! I do not even mind his every flaw. I do not mind hiding my love for him, so that I would not be a burden to him. I would do anything for him! I just want him to be happy! I... I want to be the one to make him happy..."
"You should know that he's taken."
"By that sick little girl? I know. I have no idea why he would even look at her. I would not mind being diseased too, if it means I would get his attention, even for a shortest while. Each time I see him charming her at the windowsill, I feel that I would just die of jealousy."
"My dear, I meant he is taken, by Love."
"I know he loves her. I know! I could see it in his eyes. But-"
"He's consumed by Love. Poisoned as it flows in his blood, every beat of his heart allows Love to grip him harder until the day it is lost of him forever. He will expire the very moment she passes away. For when the one you love dies, your heart too will shatter into so many fragments. There is no way for him to survive it."
"NO! That's not true!"
"But it is. Nothing can save him. Nothing, except..."
"Except what? Tell me please, Wise One, what could save him?"
"I do not know if it will save him, but in this world, there is only one thing that might be stronger than Love."
"What is it?"
"Passion! Passion so intense that it rules over Love. If you can find a passion that is stronger than his love for her, then maybe it can save him."
"But where can I find such a thing?"
"You probably have it in you. The tears that never did won his heart."
"So if I cry for him, it might save him?"
"No. You must feel every minute details of the emotions of Love, of Passion, and of Death. To save him from Death, you must feel it acutely yourself."
"Just tell me what I must do!"
"You really intend to prove your love for him, do you not, naive one?"
The Elder chuckled to itself. And I could only wait for its reply. I must wait, was the reply. Wait... for him to be heartbroken... Only then would Mother Nature teach me what to do.
Every second I waited was agony. Wondering if he was alright, wondering if he was hurt, wondering how did I come to be so stupid as to fall in Love. Yes, I wanted to know what Love is, but I did not plan to experience it first-hand. Especially not the negative part. I thought it would be happy and sweet as illustrated by everyone else. But Love felt so very painful, especially when it's not attainable.
I basked in the sun, as I waited, wondering how much longer would it be. Wondering if she would even die within my lifespan, if I would get my chance to rescue him, and maybe then he would look at me lovingly instead, with those bright black eyes.
The sun was harsh, and I felt more dehydrated than I ever did when I heard the wind carrying a sigh with it. I listened carefully, and shock paralyzed my whole body. The wind ruffled the leaves on the nearby tree, but I felt nothing, I was so numb.
Then the sudden burst of tears. Tears that would not stop flowing. Tears that felt too warm, for his cold body I imagine lying somewhere I cannot reach. Tears that were drying, but I still cannot stop crying. More, and more... before I knew it, a sharp pain stabbed me, and I realized, I was crying blood now. Crying until drop by drop, I turned pure crimson.
Crying harder now, because I was feeling his death.
Crying harder, as I felt my mind slipping away into an abyss of darkness that threatened to swallow me whole. But it no longer mattered, for my heart too was broken beyond repairs.
I felt light all of a sudden, as though I'm flying. I looked about, and who should be carrying me but The Sparrow himself.
"An angel pointed out to me someone whose heart leaked, and stained her entire being red. The angel said, for that Passion, she is willing to return me my life in exchange of yours."
"I know how you feel. Because I too felt the same. Therefore I am happy for you. It is Loving, not being Loved, that is the greatest Joy in the world and I'm glad you found it. But, your gift is too great for me to accept."
"But, I just want to see you soar up high in the sky, and enjoy your freedom."
"There are things more important than freedom to me now. But you... although your life is short, do go back, and enjoy your beauty. For you are a greatest sign of Love, and I would want to share it with the world."
I woke up, and it all seemed so surreal, like a dream that felt as if you stole many kisses so sweet from your lover. But I looked at myself...
I was no longer a white rose.