The rosebud had waited all summer and watched her friends on the rose bush unfold in turn and slowly grow into full flower. They would bend and face the sun in the day, and their petals would expand until they were wide open to catch every ray. If it turned wet they would catch a few rain drops; and if the wind blew some of their petals would blow away.
As the months went on she watched them all bloom, enjoy their days in the light, wither and lose their petals and go.
“I'm not going to open” she thought, “I'm going to hold on tight, I don't want to lose all my petals and be naked and sad. I'm not letting the world see me.”
The year drew on, the leaves fell and the weather got colder and rainier. The rosebud became even more determined. “Why would I want to show myself now, it's dangerous out there. Leaves falling, conkers and acorns everywhere, and all the animals are hungry and nibbling anything. I don't think it's my time.”
All of the other roses were gone, she was left all alone.
“At least I didn't flower on a bad day.” she consoled herself.
One autumn day she saw another rosebud had grown. “Where have you come from?” she asked.
“I'm just late,” he said, “I forgot to come out until now but I'm going to bloom tomorrow.”
“I've been here for ages,” our rosebud said proudly.
“I don't think that's something to boast about, I can't wait to show off my petals.” the newcomer replied. “Why don't you flower with me, we'll be even more impressive together.”
The rosebud thought about it. It was getting late in the year now, maybe she should. Maybe, maybe she would, she thought that night.
At dawn the new rosebud had already flowered. “What happened?” our rosebud said, “I thought we were going to flower together!”
“Oh sorry,” he said, “I didn't think you would, I just wanted to get ahead, I'm so late already.”
That afternoon the November wind whistled round them, and his petals, newly opened that morning, blew away one by one, until by the time the sun set he was gone.
Our rosebud was shocked, inconsolable. “We were going to bloom together, I can't do it on my own.” Devastated, she hid herself away and didn't think about opening again for weeks.
One morning she woke up to a different feeling in the air, and the garden was quiet and glistening white. The sun rose very late, and gently started to melt the snow on her leaves.
“This is it, today is the day! The world is soft and calm and I am ready!” She opened her green leaves, then her petals and bloomed proudly into the cold winters day.
- - -
“Look, a Christmas rose!” we said. “Why has it waited so long? But we're so glad it did, it's even more beautiful now.”
Alice Billen is a viola player living in Manchester, UK and discovered writing last year as a way to fill the creative void when there were no concerts. She has since become obsessed with all things short fiction and flash. Alice also enjoys gardening, cooking, and dreams of adopting alpacas.