Daniel’s Rose

This challenge was to write a short story about confusion with an eight-year-old, adopted boy as the main character and a rose as the key object, set in a bus station:


Today marks a day of new beginnings for Daniel, sitting on the bench in the bus station staring out the window, contemplating the adventure that lie just ahead. He is bursting with a complex cocktail of emotions. Excitement, because he has finally been adopted and now has a chance at having a real family, but also very sad, because he is leaving Sarah behind and is not sure if he will ever see her again.

Sarah has been by his side ever since he can remember. They’ve both been at the Children’s Center since they were babies and grew up together. They are now both approaching their 14th birthdays. He loved her. He knew this from the depth of his being, and knew also that she is the only one he will ever love. He wasn’t exactly sure what that meant, exactly, but it was a knowing that simply could not elude him, no matter how hard he tried to shrug it off.

He looked down at the book in his hands, a parting gift from Sarah. Daniel was color blind, and Sarah used to love trying to explain what colors were like. She actually became quite good at it, and created this special book for Daniel; A collection of poems that describes colors as she experiences them. It was priceless. He started turning the pages until he found the one that fascinated him the most. Red, because every time Sarah tried to describe red, she spoke of love and roses and feelings and all of her words went straight to his heart and blossomed into something he couldn’t explain, and certainly couldn’t deny.

On each page she also drew a picture of something that usually carried the color in question. On the page for Red, she drew a rose. Daniel had seen roses before but to him, they are different shades of gray. Sarah used to talk in great length about how they come in a variety of beautiful colors, but the red ones were her favorite. She said they symbolized love when a boy gives red roses to a girl. Of all of the colors, red perplexed him the most and how Sarah associated it with the rose. He just couldn’t grasp it. She tried rubbing petals against his skin, helping to feel the color, like satin.

Thinking back on their times together, tears begin to stream his cheeks. Will he ever see her again? He has to! She is his future! He simply can’t imagine life without her. Confusion began to curdle his stomach. He would have been content to stay at the Children’s Center until he was 18. Sarah fulfilled all his needs, and they had talked about having a large family of their own together. They would have their family experience then.

But then that couple came in looking to adopt and for some reason they chose Daniel. The older he got, the less he expected to be selected for adoption, because he was always told it’s the babies that go first. No one wants to adopt an almost grown kid. But, this is what it is, and there’s nothing he can do about it. He just couldn’t understand why Sarah couldn’t go with him.

“God,” he pleaded, “please help me to not lose Sarah! Please God! She is my lifeline. She is my future. I am excited about having a family, but I feel like I am leaving my heart behind. Please God; give me a sign to let me know everything will work out OK.”

With the closing of that silent prayer, he turned his gaze out the window where it settled on a most peculiar sight. Amidst a landscape of hues of gray, something stood out. He saw a rose, erecting from a crack in the concrete all by itself, and it wasn’t gray.

He couldn’t figure out what it was. It was deep, and vibrant, and full of life. What is this, he wondered. He sat staring out the window at the rose, with a firm look of perplexing wonder contorting his face. It looked like velvet feels against his skin, he thought. Trying to think of how to describe what he’s seeing, he could only come up with contradictions. It looks soft and delicate and strong all at the same time. It looks masculine and feminine. Bold yet subdued. In fact, he was beginning to realize, it looks like how his feelings for Sarah… feel!

“Do you see that” he asked the lady sitting next to him. “Do you see that rose!?”

“Yes” replied the woman, “what about it?”

“What color is it?” he asked.

“It’s red, silly. What are you, color blind?” and with that she turned her face away from him.

That is RED!??” he thought. “THAT IS RED!” he screamed. “No wonder Sarah loves this color! No wonder she associates it with love! Thank you, God! Thank you! Red is beautiful! SARAH is beautiful!”

And with tears of gratitude and awe, Daniel walked outside and picked the rose with intent to send it to Sarah, declaring to her that he can now see what she sees. It may only be red, but red is all he needs.

~Brenda Barnhart

Copyright © 2006 Brenda Barnhart