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Rock Street, San Francisco

Foundation
By (2018 Finalist)
I must’ve been about eleven years old when I first learned just how big the world is. This glimpse of humanity hasn’t left me since then. Traveling to another country, meeting people who were content, even in their struggles—this taught me more than I ever could have learned in that week of school I missed. Thankfully, I was given the opportunity to go on a cruise with my family to Honduras.

When my parents first announced to my two younger sisters and me that in mid-February we were going to go on a cruise (a trip offered via the company my dad worked for in which families were also invited), I was, as most eleven year olds are, extremely impatient. Those few months I had to wait before the trip were filled with anxious anticipation and daydreaming about giant ships, sandy beaches, and the most forefront in my mind—the food buffets. I packed weeks in advance and was prepared for any situation, bringing all the “necessities”–like my Gameboy and 6 different coloring books–apparently expecting to somehow be bored on a cruise.

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Once on board, however, I could not have been bored if I’d tried. Weirdly enough, though, it wasn’t just the pool and games and food that kept me entertained, but the crew members. Growing up in the Colorado suburbia Ralston Valley (nicknamed “Vanilla Valley” for its obvious lack of diversity), I had hardly ever been exposed to people from other countries. A few times on board, while out for a stroll around the ship, my dad and I would strike up a conversation with one of the staff. Talking to these crew members I learned just how hard their jobs were–being away from home months on end, living in cramped quarters, serving mostly ungrateful guests with few breaks. They did all this with a smile, attributing their optimism and spirit to the family and friends back home they knew they were working for.

Docked in Honduras, my family and I were eager to get to the beach, but immediately off the ship swarms of cab drivers and street peddlers bombarded the dazed tourists. Amongst the chaos, my dad pointed to one of the drivers and finally negotiated a price with him. The portly man rushed us into his cab away from the madness. The car was small and smelled strange to me, but it was safe from the overwhelming outside world I had just been escorted through. My mind drifted back home. In America people never would have stood in the middle of the road shouting at families to give them their business. The only American equivalent to this I could think of was mall kiosk salesmen–yes, the same principles could be applied here. Walk faster. Stare at the ground. Politely, yet firmly, let out a quiet “no thank you.”

Foolishly, I was surprised when our driver started a conversation with us in English. His accent wasn’t nearly as thick as I had expected; he was nicer too. Why had I expected him to be rude? Was it the aggressive nature of the drivers on the streets or some predetermined opinion I had of him? Why had I assumed he’d have trouble with English? Didn’t he work with English-speaking tourists almost daily? I pondered my faulty logic while staring out the window of the car.

Speeding through the humid jungle, we made our way up and down hilly back roads. Our driver had no mind for traffic laws, jerking to a halt at the sight of a produce truck pulling out in front of him, and then accelerating at a dangerous rate. I was, in that moment, completely aware of how little control I had. This place, these people–they seemed so different from me. They fascinated me more than even the prospect of another day at the beach.

We spent some time by the water, but I was excited when my parents announced it was time to go. The same driver was there; he had been waiting for us near the street. My dad must have had his interest peaked as well; he asked the man to take us anywhere he thought we’d enjoy seeing. The driver’s eyes lit up, thoroughly surprised at our request. Perhaps he had prejudged us some too.

On a treed mountainside we drove with the windows cranked down. I peered over my mother’s shoulders to see the landscape unfold below us. The higher we climbed up the gravel road, the more the wind picked up, whipping my hair round and round until it was one big heap. There were hardly any cars around, unlike earlier on the way to the beach. It was calm.

The car rolled to a stop, crunching the rocks beneath its tires. We were towards the top of the mountain where the wind really roared. I stretched out of the cab and walked a few feet more towards a large lighthouse that lay amongst the trees and vines. Moss grew all the way up the side; it reminded me of a tower in a fairy tale. We all politely nodded at the old, faded structure, showing our somewhat fake appreciation. Then the driver led us to the door at the base of the tower and, after some struggle, propped it open. We entered curiously and together climbed the spiral staircase, panting as we reached the top. I stepped out onto the balcony and looked out over everything: the beach, the jungle and its swaying palm trees, the port with teeny people figures, the distant horizon. It was the perfect spot, the climax to our experience. I couldn’t help but feel at home. I started to picture all the other people who had been up there before me, looking for the same sense of peace and amazement: our driver on particularly bad days, or maybe a group of young boys adventuring through the jungle.

Over the gusts in our ears, the driver began to talk to us–this time, not just the usual polite-cab-driver-chit-chat. He told us about his wife, his children, his parents, what he liked about his job, what he hated about his job. He told us about his country, its beauty, and its tragedies. He told us of his troubles, both financial and spiritual. This stranger from a strange place was revealing a hurt that felt so familiar.

Back at the port, after saying our goodbyes, my family and I said a quick prayer for the driver and his family. I remember feeling guilty after that day for a while for all I had compared to the noticeably poorer Hondurans. I have come to realize, however, that what our cab driver had–and what the crew members had–is more important than material possessions. They were content in serving others with a joyful heart, and had a strong foundation on which to lay their struggles.
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Night

By (2018 Finalist)

Tick.

Tock.

Tick.

Tock.

Night fills the room, leaving a peace and quiet in its wake. The only sounds being the clock on the wall and the soft breathes of people in the home. The children lay in their small beds, dreaming sweet dreams of games and toys. A large pillow lies in the corner of the living room, making a small home for the dog. Kicking and squirming, the dog dreams of playing fetch and chasing the pests in the yard out back. In the big room, a married couple lies in bed. The man holds the woman close as they both drift off to sleep.

Tick.

Tock.

Tick.

Tock.

Pale blue light shines through the curtains, flooding the darkness with a sleepy glow. What is this peaceful glow? Why, the moon. Yes, it shines its light in every home to assure everyone sleeps peacefully. Stars begin to twinkle in delight as they watch the moon at work; each one trying to do their share.

What’s this? One of the children began to wiggle in their sleep. Why! It’s a young girl. Her eyes open. The moon notices the child, but its light remains focused. She steps out of her bed, blanket in her arms, and walks to the window. The stars began to sparkle in delight. They don’t see many people awake while they are. She giggles at the sight of the moon and stars.

“You’re pretty.” She giggles. She’s no older than 2 or 3.

The moon’s light seems to grow stronger at the child, as if it’s thanking her for such kind words. The stars begin to dance, elated in such kindness. The young girl raises her hand, and tries to catch the moonlight. She doesn’t know better, but she’s determined to keep the light in her grasp.

A star sees this, and takes pity on the child. The blanket in her hand began to glow and then turn blue as the sky and decorated with stars. She notices the change, and sees the blanket in her hand.

“Thank you.” She whispers and holds the blanket closer to her chest.

She runs back to her bed, and quickly climbs back in her bed. She quickly falls asleep, and the moon light dims.

Tick.

Tock.

Tick.

Tock.

Time passes, and the moon still watches the world. Years had passed, and now the child has grown and begun her own family.

Once again, night falls, and the home is asleep. The dog whimpers at the loss of his dreamt rabbit. The children lie still as the day sucked out their energy. Once again, a man is holding his wife. The moon lights the home and the stars once again begin to play in delight. This time, the woman wakes up.

She removes her husband’s arm, and wraps a robe around her waist. She tiptoes to the nursery, where the baby lies sleeping. A blanket is draped over the child; blue with stars.

“Watch my child as you did me.” She whispers into the night, knowing that they hear her perfectly.

The blanket glittered in return, but not once waking the baby. She smiled, then went back to bed.
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The Necklace

By (2018 Finalist)

I sit in the car with my earbuds in my ears. I put the volume all the way up so I can block out everything. Rain clashes against the windows and thunder rumbles in the distance. It’s been raining nonstop ever since my grandma died a few days ago. She was the one that brought the sun out every day and now that she’s gone, the sun barely comes out. My mom and I are driving to her house to help clean it out. I’m not looking forward to it at all. Her house is the place I’ve spent most of my time. I feel more comfortable at her house than my own home.

My mom keeps babbling about how she knows how it’s not going to be easy to adjust to not having her around but I don’t find it necessary. I know she means well and she’s just doing this to help me but we both know it’s not helping.

“Hon, can you please listen to me?”

“What Mom?”

She starts to sigh and then she begins to talk. “Look, I really need you to cooperate with me here. I’m trying my hardest to help you understand and adjust to the situation you’re in. In fact we’re all in that situation. We all know what you’re going through. We understand and we’re here to help.”

“No Mom! You don’t understand! She was the only person I was ever really close with and for me to lose her is awful! I’ve lost her forever! She’s gone! She won’t be with us anymore!” I start to cry and my voice cracks. “I don’t even want to be in this car right now! I don’t understand why you brought me here! You aren’t helping me! You’re just making things worse! Bringing me grandma’s house is probably the worst idea you’ve ever thought of!”

My mom is hesitant to say something but she just gave up. We are silent the rest of the ride there. I put my music full blast once again and stare out the window. My body is raging with fury. I can’t bare to even look at my mom. She doesn’t understand what I’m going through. She has probably lost someone close to her but it doesn’t compare to how much pain I’m in.

I keep staring out the window until I finally realize we are at her house. It looks the same. It’s the white rustic house with the blue roof. Most of her rose bushes bloom with red roses but the others are starting to fall to the floor. I start to walk up the pebble path with petunias brushing up against my legs. My mom is opening the door but she pauses. I see her wiping tears away and then she takes a step forward. I follow a few moments after. I’m beginning to tear up but I quickly clear my throat and walk in.

All of the paintings are there. The family portrait hangs right above the loveseat in the living room. I walk around some more and every single one of my school projects that I’ve made are either on the refrigerator or on the wall.

“Hey, um, Mom I’m going to walk around for a bit.”

My mom just nods and carries on with what she’s doing. I walk up the stairs and I pass all of the bedrooms. I look up and I see a rope. I pull on the long rope to open the attic door. I came up here when I was younger with my grandma every Friday evening just to look for fun things to wear for dress- up. As I prance up the stairs, the musty air rushes out the only opening in the attic. Dust particles skip across the floor and into my lungs, and darkness fills up the room.

“Gosh, I haven’t been in here in a while.” I hesitate as I take a step forward. Memories flashing back to when I would have these long vintage dresses on from when she was my age. We would always have tea parties with Mr. Stuffles, my teddy bear.

“I wonder if she still has the things that I used to use for dress-up.”

I find my way across the room, knocking things down in the process, to an old dusty window. I try to clear up the window with my sleeve but that doesn’t help at all. Old cloths cover the paintings that were once in her living room. I aggressively rip a piece to try to clean the window. Dirt stains the window but I manage to clean it enough to have light shine into the room revealing an object shining in the distance. I am confused but also curious of what it would might be. I shove things so I can make my way to the box. I rummage through the things tossing objects here and there. My hand hits something hard but smooth. My hair gets in my face, making it hard to see what I found, so I decide to put it in a floppy, loose bun. I roll up my sleeves and get back to work. I pick up the box and open it. A tiny ballerina starts to dance along to the music. I reach for the simple necklace with a diamond pendent hanging from the end. I start to dig through the miscellaneous assets and I find a picture buried underneath everything. It’s a picture of my grandma in her wedding gown with the same necklace that I hold in my hand.

“Wow, I…, I can’t believe it!” I’m speechless. A million ideas and questions go through my mind. My mouth isn’t able to project one sound and I can’t roll the words off my tongue. I continue to stare at its beauty.

“Sweetie! I need your help! There are too many boxes for me to carry by myself!”

“Um…okay mom! I’ll be right down!”

I make my way down the stairs with the necklace hanging from my neck.

“Hey the boxes are ov-. Wow, that’s a pretty necklace! You better take care of it. It looks very important.”

I form a enormous smile on my face. “Oh this? Thank you and don’t worry mom. There is no way I’ll ever let this out of my sight”

“Wow I haven’t seen you smile like that in weeks and what do you know, it looks like the sun has come back out.”

“Yeah, it has hasn’t it? Oh, and Mom I’m sorry about yelling.”

“I know, but we should really work on carrying out these boxes. Oh, and it’s nice to have you back.”

I just smile for a brief second and I help my mom with the boxes. With that necklace I knew she was still with me and that I’ll never lose hope again. She is my hope in the world. During any rough patch, she will help me.
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Alexander’s Departure

By (2018 Finalist)

“Are you ready yet?” Alexander’s mom called from downstairs.

“No, mother, I’ve got about 5,000 things to do in a span of 5 minutes and I’m wasting precious seconds talking to you!” Alex yelled back, hunched over and scribbling pages and pages of math equations.

It was quiet for a moment, and then, “Well ok, but I’ve made some FruityBerryBlast Waffles for you when you’re done! I know they’re your favorite!”

Alex sighed dramatically and knocked his head against his notebook. Being a genius in a family of morons had really begun to take its toll.

It’s not that he was ungrateful, he loved his parents and knew they cared about him. They provided just the company he needed until he was about 7 years old and realized that the old story of Newton getting a concussion from an apple wasn’t really cutting it with scientific explanations. So he decided to figure out science on his own, and discovered he was really good at it. So good that now, ten years later, he had a degree in about every math and science subject there was and was an exemplary student in NASA’s rigorous new Space for the Young Minds Program. Plus he’d acquired a certain distaste for apples.

NASA was sending the top students from the Young Minds Program to the moon for some real hands-on experience, and today Alex was to fly across the country to NASA’s remote base in Indiana, where he’d meet up with other teenagers from the same program to prepare their shuttle for its departure tomorrow morning.

But first Alex had to complete these equations for the possible chance of something going wrong with the shuttle once they were in space. No one asked him to do this, but he thought he would anyway because he would probably be the smartest person there and everyone would eventually learn this and turn to him for advice.

“Alexander, your plane leaves in half an hour and your father has to get you to the airport before his back starts hurting again!” His mother shrieked from downstairs.

“I’m COMING!” Alex slammed his notebook shut and threw it in his carry-on bag. Maybe there’d be peace and quiet on the plane.

Alex looped his bag over his shoulder and made his way downstairs. His dad had already carried down his suitcase because Alex, a tall teenager with a slight build and brown hair that didn’t quite reach his eyes, didn’t have the time or motivation to do the slightest activity that might increase his strength. His attitude towards exercise was like that of a sheep’s attitude towards a farmer with a knife; they didn’t cross paths if he could help it.

“Here you go, honey, fresh from the toaster!” His mom said once he reached the bottom of the steps, shoving a plate of sickly sweet smelling waffles toward him.

Alex gingerly picked one off the top of the pile as his mom crushed him in a huge hug. “I’m going to miss you so much! Make sure to call every day!”

“Honey, they’re in space, I’m not sure that’s how it works.” His dad said in his thick country accent, patting his wife on the shoulder. “And I sure wonder what that space food tastes like, I could never live without your mama’s cookin’.”

His dad now engulfed them all in a big family hug. As he let go, he said, “And if any one of those other kids on the shuttle try and mess with you, give them a big ol’ punch in the nose from me, ya hear?”

Alex, however, did not hear, because he was too busy studying his FruityBerryBlast waffle while wondering how to configure the exact ratio of berries to waffle and if there was any chemical formula you could add to make it actually blast apart.

His parents just stood there for a few beats, waiting for Alex’s answer as he brought his eye closer to the still uneaten waffle.

“Well, ok, I guess that means you’re off then!” His mom said, recovering quickly from the awkward silence. His parents were accustomed to Alex’s strange ways and barely gave them a second thought. She pushed both the men out the door, chattering excitedly about her son’s new opportunity.

“Maybe he’ll meet a girl! Oh, wouldn’t that be nice, Alex? Romance in space, what a cute idea! Oh, and make sure you always get enough to eat, don’t let bullies take away your food like they did in preschool. A-wait a second I forgot something!”

Alex looked up from his waffle, still uneaten, at his mom’s exclamation. She rushed in the door and was back in about two seconds, a striped t-shirt in hand.

“Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me.” he muttered under his breath.

“Alex, look you almost forgot your lucky t-shirt!”

“Mom, that t-shirt is not lucky.”

“Why, yes it is! It was a super special gift given to you on your birthday-”

“That does not make it lucky.”

“Oh sure it does, you little Frowny-Pants! When has anything bad ever happened to you while wearing it?”

“I never wear it because it’s hideous, and also did you just call me Frowny Pa-”

“You could wear it under your spacesuit, wouldn’t that be lovely?!”

“Mom, I’m not going to-”

“Oh, would you please wear it, it would make your aunt so very happy. She made it herself just for you-”

“Mom, there’s a tag on the back that says MADE IN CHINA.”

“Oh, don’t be silly, your aunt doesn’t live in China. Go on, get in the car you two, you’re going to be late for your flight!”

And with that she shoved the t-shirt into Alex’s hands, pushed both him and his dad into the car, and watched happily as they drove away. Alex hid the embarrassing striped shirt in his suitcase, hoping to be rid of it as soon as he was on his own.

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Fate
By (2018 Finalist)
I believe in fate.

And today, I can feel it.

Today is the day where fate brings me true love.

My yellow raincoat twists around me as I dance down the hall. The other tenants in my apartment building, leaving for work, laugh. I’m going to meet my true love today, I tell them.

Of course you are, they reply. As I twirl away, I can feel their eyes on me, their heads shaking. How naive, I feel them thinking as I leave. I shrug it off.

I walk down the busy sidewalk, wondering at every face I see. I twist my head, watching people pass. Are they the one? Will it be a boy? A girl? Is true love always romantic? Or am I meeting my platonic soulmate today?

I reach my bus stop, sit down on the bench. I take out a book, but I can’t focus on the words on the page in front of me. Closing it again, I watch the people walk by, each in their own little world.

A woman in a pencil skirt wearing bright red lipstick.

A businessman wearing a green tie talking on his phone, free hand moving as he speaks.

A college student, hair falling in her face as she looks down at her yellow textbook.

A couple with a daughter in a pink coat radiating joy.

I smile as they swing the little girl between them. Could that be me one day?

Lost in thought, I barely notice the girl sit down beside me. The family turns the corner, and I turn my attention to this newcomer. She gazes at her phone, earbuds playing music just loudly enough that I can almost hear the beat. Her light brown hair slips from behind her ear, creating a curtain blocking her face.

My heartbeat speeds up. Could I fall in love with her?

“Hi,” I venture, the word catching in my throat.

Startled, she looks up at me. “Hi.” She goes back to her phone.

“I’m going to meet my true love today,” I announce, hoping she’ll say the same thing.

“Good for you,” she says, bewildered. She moves away from me, ending the conversation.

It’s not her then, but that’s okay. There’s a million other people in this city, and the bus won’t be here for another ten minutes. I turn back to the sidewalk. People rush by, the faces blurring past.

No one seems quite right.

My bus arrives.

No sign of my true love.

It’ll be okay.

I still have the rest of the day to find them.

Or maybe they’ll find me.

I step onto the bus, smiling at the driver. “I’m going to meet my true love today”, I tell him.

“I believe you,” the old man in the front seat says, a twinkle in his eyes. I smile extra brightly at him. He must believe in fate too.

The bus doors start to close behind me, and I walk towards the back of the bus.

“Wait!” A voice calls out. “You, with the yellow coat!”

I jump a bit, but the doors of the bus are closed, and the bus begins to leave. Pressing my face against the window, I search for the person who called for me.

A girl in an azure peacoat, vibrant against the grey of the city and the cloudy sky, is standing on the sidewalk, hands hanging at her side, her eyes searching the windows. I bang my fist against the glass, desperately trying to hold her attention.

Her eyes alight on me. Slowly at first, she starts after the bus, but then breaks into a run. I’ll find you! Her lips say. The bus turns the corner.

I’ll find you.

She’s not at the bus stop where I get off, and I can’t wait more than a few minutes, or I’ll be late to work.

She hasn’t come yet.

I leave, trying to not feel discouraged.

All morning, my eyes drift from the screen of my laptop to the window, hoping to catch a glimpse of the girl in blue in the grey streets far below me.

At lunch, I wander the blocks around my building, trying to find her. What was her name? How could fate bring us so close together, but then abandon us? Surely, the universe isn’t so cruel as to give me something to believe in one moment, only to take it away the next? Or do I have to show the universe that I really do care about true love, and now I have to find her all on my own power now?

My lunch break ends, and I go back to work without a glimpse of the rich blue of her jacket. I can’t focus for the rest of the day.

Finally, the clock strikes five, and I’m free to go. Please, I pray, just let me find her. I’ll do anything.

Walking home now, not wanting to lose her again because of the bus, I jump at any hint of azure. A dress. Toys in a shop window. A shopping bag. A hat. Billboards. Candy in a vending machine.

Ahead of me, I see a crowd of people gathering, traffic slowing. I cast one more glance around, trying to spot her, but then I join the crowd of murmuring onlookers.

Someone’s been hit.

Was the light red or green?

Is she okay?

It’s the bus driver’s fault.

Someone call 911.

My stomach knots. Something is wrong. I push my way to the front of the crowd.

A body, wrapped in an azure peacoat, vibrant against the grey of the road, lies crumpled on the ground.
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The Perfect Game
By (2018 Finalist)
You could argue that basketball is the best sport, or maybe even football. I am going to tell you why baseball is the best sport. It’s not the best sport because it’s exciting, because of the history it has or because I play it. But it’s exciting because of the sportsmanship of the game, you don’t need to be 6’3 or taller to play like in the NBA, and you don’t need to run a 4-5 40 to play like in the NFL. Baseball is the greatest sport because it is the most diverse sport.

Baseball comes with sportsmanship. When I say that it means that you have to give everyone a chance. You have to. In basketball you can move the ball around for five minutes if you wanted and burn the clock. In football you can take a knee and run the clock out. In baseball there is no clock. You have to pitch the ball over the plate and he has to hit it. You have to give the other team equal opportunities.
You don’t need to be a freak athlete to be amazing. The 2017 baseball season is going to be historic. Mainly because of the Yankee rookie Aaron Judge. Aaron Judge is a monster, at 282 pounds and 6’7 he is in the race to win American league MVP. The race for MVP is down to Aaron Judge and Jose Altuve. Jose Altuve is a second baseman for the Houston Astros, he weighs 160 pounds and is 5’6. Baseball is one of the only sports where the smaller, weaker, slower guy can beat a guy that weighs 100 pounds more and is more than 12 inches taller. You don’t need to be a freak athlete you just need to perform.

Baseball players can really do anything. If you put a baseball player on a basketball court they are going to be able to hold their own and compete. Most of the times they are good at most things hands on or just sports in general football, tennis, soccer, swimming. Whatever it is a baseball player will compete and do well. If you put a basketball or football player in front of a 90 mile per hour fastball they aren’t going to be able to touch it.

You need to know how to fail. Baseball is a sport that is amazing for building character. Baseball is a sport that is meant for you to fail. A batting average in baseball is a percentage. If you bat a .417 that means that 41.7% of the time you are getting a hit. A .417 batting average is close to impossible. The best batting average over a single season is set by a guy named Hugh Duffy at .440. If you haven’t heard of him it’s because he set this record in 1894. The best batting average ever is .440 or 44%. That means 44% of the time he is getting a hit, at the same time that means 56% of the time he isn’t hitting the ball. Most of the people that are in the hall of fame hit around a .350 Batting average. 65% of the time professionals aren’t getting a hit. Baseball is the most aggravating sport to play because you are literally meant to fail. But baseball is the only sport that can make you really well rounded when you learn how to deal with constant failure. There are games where you can play and bat 6 times and not get a single hit. It’s a sport that builds your character.

Baseball is a perfect game because you need to give people chances, you don’t need to be an athlete, and you need to know how to deal with losing. A game so fine it’s played in diamonds.
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A Rose Without Roots
By (2018 Finalist)
There once lived a captivating rose. It had many bright petals that never fell out. Anyone who saw this rose believed it was the most gorgeous, without a doubt. This rose lived in the middle of a plentiful garden, and its rare beauty caused other roses to greatly admire its gorgeous sight. They gazed upon that life, watching it soak in the perfect amount of sunlight.

But the prettiest rose hunched with great sadness, desperately longing for happiness. Once the other roses noticed there was something wrong, one of them asked, “Most beautiful rose, why aren’t you filled with gladness?”

“I don’t want to be stuck here,” said the rose. “If I was free like that butterfly, I would not shed one tear.”

“But you’re the prettiest rose on Earth,” the other rose proudly stated. “So why are you experiencing such hurt?”

Then the rose said with a huff, “I’d rather be free and ugly than beautiful and stuck.”

“But… we don’t want to see you like this,” said the other rose. “We want you to have bliss.”

The rose kept quiet and continued drooping. Suddenly it heard a voice coming from its stem—a voice so alluring yet so dooming.

“Do not listen to any of those roses,” whispered one of the thorns. “If you want to be free, you can. Just grab a hold of your heart’s hand… and absolute merriment will stand. So use those sharp scissors that are lying beside you… and let your stem and useless roots spit in two.”

“How?” the rose desperately cried.

“Use your long thorns to drag them. Then shove those open blades between your stem. Now prepare to have your joy shine brighter than a gem.”

Once the rose followed the thorn’s command, it was free. From that point on, the most beautiful rose shouted and leaped, hardly able to wait and see the things it hasn’t seen. But the rest of the roses glumly stared at the rose, as their ecstasy froze.

“You can’t go,” a rose said. “Why let our glee grow slow?”

“I’m sorry,” said the rose. “But I have to do this. You’re the one who said you wanted me to have bliss.”

It hesitated responding, feeling extremely distraught.

Then the gorgeous rose said, “I’d hate to have my glee rought.”

“I guess all of us should let you go, then,” it mumbled. “I hope I’ll see you again.”

“I will,” the rose confidently proclaimed. “Don’t worry; be calm and still.”

But throughout the journey, the beautiful rose started feeling dry and extremely tired from all of that hopping underneath the sun. An unexpected happening had just begun…

“I’m thirsty,” the rose weakly spoke.

“There might be a pond nearby,” the thorn said, positively. “Don’t fret; until we find water, look at the enchanting sky.”

The rose did as the thorn ordered. Then, eventually, both of them found a pond underneath some shade. Standing in the water, the rose’s thirst began to fade. “Ahh, that feels much better.”

“Good,” said the thorn. “Now that you’re soothed, you can now move.”

But the rose still felt weak and only wanted rest. “I don’t know…. there’s some sort of feeling inside that’s making me feel distressed,” it said. “I am still not feeling my best.”

Days passed and the rose was still resting. But even though there was shade and a pond, its petals started wilting and falling out, causing the rose to shout, “My petals! Nooo! What is happening to me! Is there something I am missing?”

“It’s nothing,” said the thorn. “You will be okay. Nothing can stand in your way.”

“But I don’t feel okay,” the rose said with shortness of breath. “I’m worn! I feel torn! How can I trust you, Thorn? I should have been fine by now, but there is no relief around! I don’t understand! What’s happening to me? And when can I be free?”

“You should have stayed in your roots,” the thorn sternly said.

The rose became confused. “But you said everything would be fine! And I feel my merriment has reached the end of the line!”

The thorn gave a sneaky look as the rose started crying.

“You tricked me? Why would you trick me?”

“Why are you mad at me?” asked the thorn, pretending to act innocent. “You’re the one who said you’d rather be ugly and free than beautiful and stuck. I’m guessing, by the tone of your voice, you’re outta luck.”

The rose continued weeping. “I didn’t think it’d be like this… and you knew I wouldn’t have bliss.”

“Yes… I knew,” the thorn unashamedly confessed. “And now you’re a rose without roots, and I am, and always will be, your brutal monsoon.”

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