The Green Rose
The brass lion statues stared down at me, their stony eyes threatening me, yet somehow challenging me to open the gate. Looming shadows stretched out over my figure and my eyes rose up to the huge mansion on the hill in the distance. A thrilling shiver flew up my spine, prickling the tendons in my back. I shrugged the sensation off, never feeling afraid. Strangely, I was more nervous than anything. My shaking hand reached for the gate, but as I barely touched its icy latch, I felt someone pull me away. Twisting around in the attacker's hold, I saw a stern, square-jawed man. I did not lunge out at him in any way, knowing I was the weaker, but calmly I smiled. He retreated away into the depths of the forest surrounding the cold stone wall encircling the mansion.
The latch slid open easily, as if someone had oiled it for just a moment. I could feel the lions' defending eyes on me -- the intruder. I turned to close the gate, just in time to see the man enter behind me and stop me from doing so.
I was weary as I climbed a long, narrow staircase near the center of the mansion. With each step I felt I would slip and fall, but an outer strength pressed me on. I pushed open the small door at the top of my climb, and looked at the gloomy world that faced me.
Ivy grew up the high walls, covering them and the ceiling above completely. I took my finger and pushed a section aside, and sunlight danced through the walls. I felt my mouth fall open, sure that the room was pure diamond. The man watched me from the doorway as I walked in, but surprisingly did not follow me. Awestruck, my eyes found a rose garden striving to survive in the center of the floor. I asked the man for water and he hinted where to find it. Retrieving it quickly, I fed the flowers. Immediately blossoms opened, showing their beautiful colors: red, peach, yellow, white. I was about to turn away, but something stopped me. A strange attraction pulled me to a section of the rose bed and I quietly studied the blooms.
The leaves' and the thorny stems' dull green color would never have struck me if I had not noticed a petal in their midst. But this petal was not an ordinary rose petal. It carried the same dull green hue of the leaves, and yet, there was something beautiful about it. Gently I reached out and took it between my fingers. The curves were perfect and its texture was silky and soft. Its scent overpowered the other blossoms, but still it was gentle and, somehow, quiet. Suddenly it dawned on me that there must be a complete green rose, a perfect beauty, if there was one petal.
I never would have seen it if I had not been looking. But how anyone could pass such a spectacular beauty was almost disturbing. As I reached out to touch the fragile specimen, the ivy on the walls drew away and fell back, withering. The warmth and brightness of the sun dazzled me -- and almost blinded me. Suddenly I wondered if others had found a petal of the green rose, but had taken for granted the lower was there. Had no one taken the time to search for the rose, even with so great a reward?
A shadow crept silently down a dark city street. Near it, a cat scurried into an alleyway, its claws scratching on the pavement. The shadow stopped abruptly, quickly looking around. The air was still and damp, and the sounds of the creature's heavy breaths intensified in the darkness. Across the street a neon sign pointed its blue arrows towards a door. The shadow watched the blinking lights, and then his eyes were drawn to a short, blurry window. Laughter echoed into the street, and the man saw two figures dancing to faint music. The woman lifted her wine glass in the air to toast and then threw it. It shattered, the glass tinkling against the window. Wine dripped like raindrops down the window pane and the onlooker stood, mesmerized for a moment. Then he moved -- slowly -- on down the road, disappearing under a burned out street light. In an alley, a yowl like a cat screamed out into the night.