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The Price of Perfection

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“It certainly is a beautiful rose.” People murmured as they crowded around the patch of yard in front of the house. Each petal was perfectly formed and placed exactly where it should be. Not a single blemish could be found and the deep red color of the rose was so exquisite it looked as if it had been born from an artist’s palette. The rose’s stem was long and straight with flawless leaves of emerald green positioned in just a way as to accent and showcase the amazing bloom. The man standing next to the rose beamed with pride at each new person who came to see this wonder of wonders. Everyone who looked upon the rose was taken away by its sublime beauty, some even gasped aloud. Others refused to believe that the flower was real. Surely such a perfect specimen of nature’s beauty could not have grown naturally. By noon the entire town had seen the rose and word had started to spread to other towns. Every person who had seen the rose could not help but proclaim its beauty to everyone they met. Every person, that is, except for one little girl with bright blue eyes. Whenever someone mentioned the rose to her she just shook her head and said, “It is only a rose. I don’t see what’s so important about a rose that’s going to die anyways.” People would just pat her head and laugh at her silliness. After all, what did a little girl know of beauty in the world when she had seen so little of it? All day people came from nearby towns and far-away cities to see the alluring rose. Somewhere along the way someone asked the question. “What are you going to do with it?” The man paused. What was he going to do with the rose? It would be unthinkable to just leave it outside in the ground, prone to weather and pests and people. He had to protect and preserve this impeccable facet of nature. “You should dig it up and put it in a pot,” someone said. “No no.” said another. “It will never last if you do that. You should clip it and press it.” “No. Dip it in gold. It will last forever that way.” “But then you can’t see that amazing color. Encase it in glass and then seal it up” “Where would you put it? You’d have to protect something as fragile as a glass rose.” People in the back of the crowd began pressing forward to hear what was going on and to voice their opinions. “Put it on display in the middle of town.” “Donate it to a museum.” “Charge people to see it and give the money to the school.” As the crowd compacted, the shouts grew louder. The owner of the rose grew fearful and shouted. “Get back all of you! This is my rose and I will do what I want with it. I grew it and it’s mine so I will decide what to do with it.” The unhappy crowd dispersed. How could he be so selfish? Such a breathtaking rose should be shared, not kept by one person. The public had the right to partake of the rose’s awe-inspiring appearance.

The first attempted theft happened as soon as the sky darkened. The next, only half an hour later but the man was ahead of them. He knew that people would be jealous of his perfect rose, would try to take it from him. He was waiting for the thieves in a chair with a gun across his lap. Both of the would-be thieves turned and left without a word. As the last one was leaving he saw the orange glow. The man turned around in time to see a black shadow sprint behind the house next door and to see the fire begin to grow and crackle. The flames ate quickly at the wooden house. Windows started cracking. Somewhere inside containers started exploding. The man gaped as his house was consumed by the horrible hungry flames. People began coming outside to see what was going on. Someone shouted for the fire department. The flames jumped to the house next door. People started running and screaming. In the distance a siren wailed. In the matter of a few minutes the fire spread house to house, building to building. Families huddled together as their house burned in front of their eyes. Children cried, babies wailed, and everywhere there were people running, standing, wandering. Fire trucks dodged crowds as they tried to cut off the flames. Someone remembered the rose and a whole group of bystanders ran to the man’s house. The man was still there watching his house burn, gun held loosely in his hand. He heard the footsteps behind him. They were trying to take his rose! He whirled around. BAM! As the man stared incredulously at the smoking gun, a man at the front of the crowd stared at the hole in his abdomen. The crowd stepped back. The two men stared at each other as the one fell to the ground. At the back of the crowd one little girl with bright blue eyes watched the first perfect petal drift slowly to the ash covered ground.





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