The Everything Else
Art by Paul Rios
It was the middle of the night and we were both awake. I could feel him stirring beside me, so I inched closer to him until I could feel his warm skin against mine.
And for a while we just stayed there, limbs entangled, not saying anything. Hoping the morning would never come. Because the morning meant he would be ripped away, to forsake me for some other place that would be just out of my reach.
He placed his hand on my face for a moment and said, “I want to show you something.”
Blankets wrapped around us, he led me outside to a planter I had never seen before. Everything was lit solely by starlight, as the moon was just a sliver behind us. He just stood before the planter, admiring it before turning back to me.
“What is this?” I asked, wondering why he had brought me outside in the middle of the night.
“It’s a rose bush,” he replied, taking my hand.
Even in the starlight, I could tell there was nothing to this plant but stems and leaves.
“No it’s not.”
“Sure it is, it just hasn’t bloomed yet. But see that bud? It will bloom in no time at all.”
As I got closer to the plant, I could see lighter green growths at the tips of its branches, and a very small bud at the tip.
“But you won’t even get to see it bloom.”
“I know. I didn’t plant it just because I wanted to enjoy the flower. I planted it because I wanted to watch it grow. To see what it would become.”
“But you won’t find out what it will become. It won’t bloom in time.”
He smiled and said, “The beauty isn’t only in the bloom. The beauty is in the everything else. The beautiful mess that surrounds it: the dirt, the thorns, the beauty of nurturing something that may never come to be.”
That night, my dreams were haunted by a single white rose. I watched it bloom and die, bloom and die over and over again. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, it always came back.
And when he was gone, I found my way outside to the plant I would never see in full bloom. In the daylight, the dew on its branches made it sparkle and flicker with light.
From the plant, I took a small green leaf that would never shrivel and fall to the ground. I knew that apart from the plant, it wouldn’t stay green for long; but as I walked away with the sparkling leaf, I saw that it was beautiful.