There is a rose in this city the never stops blooming. A red red rose. I know that it's real...I've often gone down there to look at it. Even in the dead of winter, the rose blooms, giving out its cheery scent.
It shouldn't be alive. Winters here are murder on humans, let alone a hot house flower like my rose. It belongs in virginia, or florida, or some other place that has winters shorter than nine months. My rose, it chose to live in Michigan. It chose to live in a dank, dark, burned out church.
Well...it's not actually my rose. I just claim it is because I am only one of two people that seem to know of it. Me and Ben. Ben tends to the rose, although I wonder sometimes if he even knows what he is doing. Ben isn't exactly sane.
Ben is oblivious to most things. He knows books, he knows his rose, and he knows to come to my house on tuesdays for a shower, and a good meal. Thats about all he knows. All I knew was that my rose was so beautiful in the snow. It was a splash of color in a world of whites and grays.
There was a knock on my door. I looked at my clock...it was 9 p.m. It was Johnny, the young man that brought me my dinner from the deli down the road. I walked over to the door, and opened it.
"Right on time, Joh..." I stopped. It wasn't Johnny. It wasn't Ben either. It was a young lady. Young was the operative word...she couldn't have been more that 18. She was bundled up against the cold in layers of clothing, including a knit cap that did absolutely nothing to stop her long dark hair from cascading over her shoulders. I suddenly felt old.
"Yeah...Johnny told me you'd think it was him. He said to remind you that he started college yesterday and won't be back till christmas." She held out the bags holding my order of food. "He also said to not charge you. I'm Connie, Johnny's sister." She held out her hand.
I took her hand and shook it, slowly. "But...Johnny doesn't start college till the 18th."
She shook the bags of food. at me. "Can I come in?"
"OH! Please...do come in!" Looking at her, I could see a strong resemblance to Johnny. "Just set the food over there on the table. I'll get your tip."
"Wait a sec." She fumbled around in her pocket, and pulled out a small piece of paper. "Johnny said to give this to you if you said anything about the date."
It was a small card. I took it and looked it over. On one side were the words "doesn't know what day it is...doesn't care." on the other side Johnny had written "Today is September the 21st."
I looked up. Connie was wandering around the room, looking at things. I pocketed the card, and waited for her to ask. She did.
"So who's the other meal for?"
"A friend." I replied. One that I was getting pretty worried about. Ben has never been late before.
She pointed at the pictures on the TV. The ones I always wanted to take down, but never got around to. "Your wife?"
"I'm not married anymore." I said, a brief stab of pain running through me.
She picked up the picture, and looked at me. "Bummer. Divorced? My best friends parents just got divorced. She's pretty happy about it actually..."
I shook my head. "Cancer. Two years ago."
"Oh. I'm...I'm sorry." She sounded it too. She put the picture back on top of the TV like it was a precious jewel. "Look...I think I better go before I really start being stupid."
"You weren't being stupid. You didn't know. It was a long time ago."
"It still hurts you though. God...how do you get over something like that?"
I shrugged. "You don't. You get past it...you get around it...you get on with it...but you never get over it. I'm getting on with it."
She looked me up and down. I smiled at her. "I'm ok, Connie. I moped around for over a year. One day I just woke up, and...woke up."
She nodded, just as if she had actually understood me. I didn't think she had...I hoped she hadn't. The first waking up was painful. Opening the eyes, feeling the empty spot beside me...a not so gentle reminder that I was alone. A reminder that the one that I loved was no longer there to love me. The sun was just going down that night, and I walked over to the window to watch another day die. I looked out over the burned out church, and saw a spot of red. My rose. I felt like I had been slapped...even then, in the rosy red color of the sunset, the red stood out. It was alive...I wasn't. I was just going through the motions, and I knew, I just KNEW that if Linda had been alive to see me, if she had seen what I had become, she would have been disgusted with me. When I got to work the night, the night watchman asked me if I was feeling alright. I had been whistling.
Connie nodded at me and headed for the door, pulling gloves from her pocket. "You take care, Mr. Jacobs. I'll see you later!"
"Wait a minute!" I called out after her. "I haven't gotten your tip yet!"
She stood in the doorway for a second. "Johnny said I should come by the Municipal Library tonight to get it. Wouldn't tell me why, though. I trust him." She shut the door.
Born in 1974, Richard Weeks seems to have trouble staying in one place. Despite moving almost every year, he has managed to complete one college degree, and is half way through a bachelors. A professional baker by trade, his time is spent either cooking, college,or playing around on the computer. He firmly believes that life is well worth living.