Rose Pebbles

“The pebbles on that bank were somehow the same ones that we had thrown before, over and over.”

She loved it, or so she said.

It wasn’t much. I thought it wasn’t anything, but to her it was the answer to a thousand and one nights spent staring at the ceiling wondering when her knight in shining armor would come and love her.

I didn’t have much. I was a simple boy with simple tastes, but she was far from a simple girl. She was everything I never knew that I wanted and more, and I couldn’t even give her my heart (as small and fragile a gift it would have made). It wasn’t mine. I thought it was then, but I was wrong and she would have to take it because I could never have given it to her.

I had given her the rose, but that was not my heart. Though it sounds strange to say it now, a part of me then thought that it was. I wanted her to have both, and though she did have both in the end, I gave her one and the other she took.

I thought the rose (she loved the rose) meant that I loved her, but I was wrong about that too. I thought that she loved me and she thought that too, but she loved that rose, the idea (the ideal) of me. But when she said she loved me she believed herself. So did I. I never believed in the god of my father like I believed in the love she believed. I never doubted her, and I never wanted to.

We sat by the stream and we skipped our stones, and we talked about how things would be when we grew older. We talked about the houses we would have, and we talked about the things we would do. We talked about the people we would marry and what they would be like, and on that uncomfortable bank I believed that we were discussing each other, even though our names never came up.

I said that my wife would be beautiful and that I would love her, but I didn’t know that despite her beauty this girl could never be beautiful to me. She said that her husband would be tall, that he would provide for her. But there is stature aside from height, and some provisions I could never give to her. Looking back at that rose now I wonder how I ever believed we were discussing each other. Maybe I never did.

The homes that we discussed were the same, and we envisioned a physical place that we would share. Our home was the same, and if it was ever a physical place then it was that pebbled bank that ran by the stream, and it was that stream, and it was the words that we passed across the hours and the years. It always seemed that way. It felt as if the words were passed, and the years would pass, but that rose would always smell the same as the day that I bought it from the gas station beside her house.

The pebbles on that bank were somehow the same ones that we had thrown before, over and over. The water that lay beneath those skipping stones would never flow away. The stream meandered in circles for us.

I wonder sometimes if she still has that rose. It’s been years since we passed a word, on the bank or in our house that we shared that may have been that bank, but sometimes I still wonder. I hope that she doesn’t still carry it. I hope that it’s been thrown away. I hope that it’s been carried out to the trash, and I hope that whatever compost it finds itself in that it will make new roses there.

As for me, I gave that old rose away years ago. I’ve followed that stream where it goes instead of choosing to believe that it flows in circles. It’s taken me to new streams, and there are real roses on the banks here. I don’t have to buy them from the store. I’ve plucked a few, and given them all to another, and I think that maybe our house will have walls one day.