Shellie Zacharia


Rose was lonely. She worked from home creating beaded jewelry she sold to quaint shops. The jewelry kept her hands busy, but her heart yearned and her head ached.

Sometimes she thought too much about the collapse of her marriage. Had she really loved a man who walked out and disappeared?

The mirror did not lie. She looked awful. Even her red hair, which used to get compliments, shot flyaway and coarse. She chopped at it one evening, feeling wild and desperate, and it fell to the floor. She looked no better maybe, but different.

She took to sitting on the porch in the late afternoons, wearing her favorite pale green sweater. It was lightweight and made her feel safe. She would watch the new neighbor tend to his flowers.

“Hello!” he called out when he noticed her. He waved. She always waved back.

One late afternoon, after he had pruned and weeded and watered, he turned and called across the street, “Come see for yourself.”

She did.

“And your name?” he asked.


He nodded and smiled and said, “But of course.”

The next day he waved. “Hello, Rose!” Later she saw him get in his car and drive away. She walked over to his garden and stared long and hard at the roses. But of course.

She glanced in a plastic bucket at the edge of the garden: a trowel, his gloves, a bag of organic flower food. She took a handful of fertilizer and carried it home.

That evening she made a mug of green tea and mixed in a spoonful of the flower food and milk and sugar too. She drank. How foolish! How fantastic! She told herself not to get sick, and she slept.

When she woke, she noticed a slight jabbing in her sides. She sat up in bed and lifted her night shirt. A few tiny thorns had grown from her waist. She went to the mirror. Her hair seemed tousled and lovely. She reached up and discovered her short locks were now soft, velvety. Her cheeks were pink.

“I’m a rose,” she said aloud. She took the pale green sweater and wrapped it around her waist to hide the thorns, and she went outside. She crossed the street and stood by the neighbor’s garden. She felt herself blooming, unfurling, in the early morning sun.


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