Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction
The Fable of the Lovely, Lonely RoseOn a hillside overlooking a quaint country cottage, there lived a rose. She was a lovely rose, and (contrary to what you might think if you read the title of this fable) she was not at all lonely. There were many flowers of many colors and shapes and sizes scattered in friendly little clumps all over the hillside, and they were some of the friendliest flowers in the world.
The rose was clumped together with an orchid, a couple daisies, some chrysanthemums, and several other lovely - and very friendly - flowers. Each of the flowers had her own personality. The orchid had an occasional tendency to be introverted and morose, but she was a faithful friend who would give the petals off her blooms to a friend in need. The daisies, who - the rose suspected -were twins, had more outgoing, sunny dispositions, and either one of them could keep a conversation going without any help from any of the other flowers on the hillside. Put the two of them together, and you had a recipe for peals of laughter that blanketed the hillside with joy.
Life was never lonely when your days were filled with the faithfulness and friendly chatter of good friends like these.
One day, as one of the chrysanthemums was studying - with mild concern - a small brown and wilted spot on one of her petals, and the daisies were doing their best to distract her from this worrysome blight, a booming voice seemed to speak out of nowhere.
"Well aren't you the most lovely flowers I've ever seen!"
The discussion about wilted petals immediately ceased, as each of the flowers looked around, trying to find the source of this deep voice. A monstrously large flower was hovering over them, admiring them. The rose was startled and somewhat disturbed by the appearance of this creature; it had not been there a few minutes ago, and it certainly could not have grown to a height of five and a half feet in in just a few short minutes.
The flower then moved (yes, moved!) to the other side of the clump, and the rose understood that this was a magical flower; it had two stems, and neither one of them was attached to the ground. It had not grown there, it had moved there.
The patch of friendly flowers sat in perplexed silence, staring up at this strange two-stemmed flower. The rose thought to herself that - in its own way - this giant flower was quite beautiful. Instead of petals it had long golden fronds (like grass, only even thinner) growing out of its top, and although it had no thorns, it did have two branches growing out of its side. These branches, like the stems, seemed to be capable of a wide range of movement.
The giant magical flower stooped down and caressed the little flowers gently. Then she said: "The real question is: which of you is most beautiful? I have a vase that needs to be filled."
The rose didn't know what a vase was. In fact, she hardly heard the second part of what the magical flower said, because she was so distracted by the first part. Most beautiful?
It was, she realized, a very good question. One that none of them had ever considered before. It was odd that they never had considered it. After all, the words and ideas were right there in their vocabulary. Today is a warm day one of them might say, and another might respond, Yes, but yesterday was warmer. Or Isn't the sky cloudy today? and I sure hope it's less cloudy tomorrow!
More and less warm, more and less cloudy: they talked about these things all the time. Why had it never occurred to them to talk about "more beautiful" and "less beautiful?"
That evening, the rose's friendly little patch of flowers was quite silent. Even the daisies had nothing to say. They were all thinking the same thing: Am I the most beautiful flower in the patch?
The rose looked at each of her friends with new eyes. The daisies, she thought, while they had a certain charm and joie de vivre, couldn't really be classified as beautiful; they were merely cute. And the orchid, she decided, was more elegant than beautiful.
It was the chrysanthemums that worried her the most. Even with the possibility of a wilting petal, the rose felt that they were her strongest competition for the title of Most Beautiful.
These thoughts kept the little rose awake long into the night, and in her sleeplessness she developed a plan. At about 3:00 AM, while the chrysanthemums slept, the lovely little rose leaned over as far as she could, and brought her blossoms down as hard as she could against her friend's blooming top, crushing many of the chrysanthemums' petals. Satisfied with her handiwork, and convinced she was now most beautiful, the rose slept soundly the rest of the night.
The next day the giant magical flower returned. She stooped down and studied the clump of flowers. "Oh dear," she said, "it looks like one of you had a bad night." She stroked the chrysanthemums' bruised petals for just a moment, then turned her attention to the little rose. "I've decided," she announced, "that you are the most beautiful."
The little rose bloomed even brighter at these words of praise.
"I shall take you with me," the magic flower declared.
The rose grinned at her disappointed friends. The magic flower was going to teach her (not the others - her!) the magic of moving from one place to another!
The magic flower bent even closer to the ground, and with a strange shiny tool, clipped the rose from ground.
Oh! how it hurt! The rose had never felt such pain before! But then she forgot the pain as she found herself soaring several feet above the ground, held in the gentle hand of the magic flower. She was moving - and not just swaying in the breeze, or bending her stem - she was really moving!
She called out a faint and smug goodbye to her (less beautiful) friends, and the magic flower carried her down the hillside to the quaint cottage. The magic flower took her inside and gently placed her in a glass container filled with water. Oh! how nice the cool water felt on her wounded stem!
The magical flower smiled at her and said, "There! You are truly the most beautiful flower on the hillside!"
The lovely little rose glowed a brighter red than ever at the gracious compliment. Most Beautiful!
How exciting it was to be in such a strange and wondrous environment. There were many peculiar objects that seemed unnaturally smooth and square, with no rough or rounded edges in sight. The little rose had no idea such things existed in the world. Even the rounded objects (like the glass container she was in) were too round - the rose wondered how they could have possibly grown like that.
It was not until the next day that the little rose realized that there were no other flowers in this place. And that none of the strange objects that occupied the cottage were interested in talking with her. No matter how much she talked, none of them gave as much as a single word in answer.
Worst of all, the magical flower seemed to be completely ignoring her. She was far more interested in the other objects in the cottage. She too, ignored all the rose's attempts at conversation, and didn't make the slightest attempt to teach her the magic of moving from place to place.
Day after day passed, and the lovely little rose became (as you might have guessed from the title of this fable) quite lonely. She thought constantly about the twin daisies who could always make her hoot with laughter. She thought about the sad but elegant orchid who would give the petals off her bloom for a friend. She would never have smashed the chrysanthemums, the rose thought, feeling ashamed and humiliated.
As the days passed, and the lonely little rose thought about her lost friends, something tragic began to happen. She began to wilt. She was so preoccupied with her loneliness and shame that she hardly even realized it, but her petals were turning brown and limp.
At last, one sunny day that was brighter and warmer than most, something changed. The magical flower left the cottage early in the morning and returned a few minutes later. She was carrying something in her branch. The dying rose stared in delighted recognition. She drank deeply of the water in her container, and that gave her the strength to cry out with joy: "Daisy! It's you!" Indeed, it was one of the daisies. But the poor rose was so wilted that her friend didn't even recognize her.
The magical flower grabbed the rose roughly by her petals (Oh! she had never been handled so roughly before!) and tossed her aside. The daisy replaced her in the round container.
The magical flower said, "There! You truly are the most beautiful flower on the hillside!"
As the lonely rose (who was no longer lovely) felt herself being flung out the window, she was humiliated to realize that the magical flower was no longer speaking about her.
The moral of the story is: Those who prize vanity over community soon discover that they have a very short shelf life.
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