These roses were a little battered. A little bruised and a little beaten. They were dried in their vase, noting the time they had stayed in every wrinkle and sharpened thorn. Each slightly bent leaf or twisted stem. These roses were bedraggled. I had had them for years now. Occasionally a petal would fall, or I would almost knock them over with my awkward frame. A curtain would brush them a bit too roughly or something else would endeavor to dent or crunch them.
Only adding to their beauty. They were legacy, history.
They were the newly made friends that ran down an alley between a suburb and a collection of little shops. They were the made up stories we told each other as we scrambled around the obstacles and were totally childish, full of laughter. We’d make up stories about the people who lived in the houses, or what really happened behind the back doors of the businesses. Pools and patios and flat grass lawns were all well and good, but the dark and mysteriously dusty shop doors could be anything.
Behind one of the shops, its front said it was a florist, there was a huge dumpster. It was at the end of the alley, where street turned into fields beside the suburb. There was a fence and some trees, and the house at the end of the lane. That house was the best place to tell stories about. It was covered in flowers, plants, vines, and trees. All over absolutely everything. Anything could be hiding in those branches and leaves – the world’s best secrets – so we told ourselves. The trees that overhung the fence and the dumpster in the alley, were huge and overgrown. Their roots made the pavement uneven and let the hardiest flowers peak through. Their leaves made it shady and cool on the hottest days.
The fan that propped the back door of the shop open on hot days blew out humid air tinged with the scent of flowers and green things. Sometimes chocolate or fruit also, oddly. There was a basketball hoop attached to the back wall of the shop, and sometimes other neighborhood kids would play there, and that could always lead to more stories. My friends, we loved those stories.
One day one of the other kids got their basketball stuck in the tree closest to the dumpster. It was a knot of branches and leaves, healthy and huge, and nested gently within it, a dulled orange basketball.
They tried climbing up on the dumpster, but could only shake the branches, not shake it loose. We climbed up too, to see if we were taller enough to get the ball down. I guess we were, it shook loose and fell into the dumpster. Next to a bunch of roses. Once the basketball was returned, my friends and I retrieved the roses. It was a huge bunch, and we decided they were the most beautiful things in the world.
Some of the petals were dented, and some of the flowers were small, the stems were uneven, and broken in places. They were the most beautiful things in the world because they were dented and bruised, because they had been thrown away and still shone deep pigment and glorious grace.
Because we’d skinned our knees and covered ourselves in tiny scars. We’d broken bones and cut our own hair in mirrors. Our crooked layers and lopsided ponytails were the roses proof, the roses were our proof.
Because we had loved them, because they were still beautiful, because we were still beautiful, they were the most beautiful things in the world. Their value came from themselves, and their history, and their value came from how we immediately loved them.
We’d split up the bunch between us, wondering if they had come from the beautifully overgrown house or the shop, wondering about the story behind the flowers, but also creating the new stories that wove together with ours since we found them.
Only adding to their beauty.