A Rose by Any Other Name

The world is dust, nothing but shades of black and white. Rolling dunes of grey paint a bland countryside devoid of depth, detail, and emotion. The ground trembles at my feet; I kneel, examining a small mound of filth as it pulsates, growing larger and darker. A stray gust of wind brushes across the surface layer of dust, revealing rich brown soil beneath. The addition of color to my world overwhelms me, and a sharp intake of breath is the only sound I can manage.

The dirt pushes upward in the center, and the brightest green pokes through. I am astounded by the intense new coloration. My eyes cannot comprehend what they see. The clouds part overhead, and a lone sunbeam highlights the wondrous sprout. As the seedling grows, it stretches toward the sky. It knows not the immeasurable distance lying before it, neither does it worry—it just continues on, a beacon of hope in a monotonous world. I stand, and the sapling reaches my knees. Tender leaves unfold from the stem in varying shades of lush, verdant greens.

A shadow crosses the ray of light, dulling the vivid hues. The darkness whispers to me. “A weed.”

I study the small growth. Is this not a flower? A rose by any other name would blossom in beauty and fragrance. Surely the youth of life, containing so much potential, is not an intruder to the droll routine of grey. No, this is not a weed. I hold true to my resolve, and the shadow fades from existence.

The sapling shoots upward once more. A faint blue tinges the horizon as the clouds dissipate, brightening by the second, and my existence has a glimmer of meaning. The vibrant, flexible green solidifies into smooth tan—stretching, thickening, and darkening, leaving behind the fragile leaves it once wore proudly. Before long, the bulbous tip unfolds, revealing a bloom of curling vines, each rolling out into ample sprigs. The vines expand, darkening the same as their source, developing into light, tawny-brown branches.

A shadow crosses the morning light, dimming the topiary youth. The darkness whispers to me. “A twig.”

I study the young plant. Is this not a bush? A shrub by any other name would fill out in abundance and color. Surely the juvenile life, exploring its own potential, is not merely a useless object to be walked upon. No, this is not a twig. I reaffirm my conviction, and the shadow fades from existence.

The extending branches reach for the sky, but the brilliant blue gracing the firmament wanes in the presence of an encroaching storm. The broad beam that had once been a sleek, spirited green ages into a thick, rough exterior. The pliant arms which strain ever upward swell, their tempered cores twisting in their uncertainty, as the sky is no longer a guide for which direction to take. Sharp angles form amid the boughs, and jagged knots scab over with coarse, gnarled bark. Wooden talons diverge from the bramble, narrowing at their tips, contorting the once-inspiring mass into a dark, bare wilderness. Black clouds blanket the sky, casting the world in shade.

A shadow crosses where darkness already thrives, obscuring my view entirely. The darkness whispers to me. “An atrocity.

I consider the distinctive formation. Is this not a tree? An oak by any other name would persist and persevere. Surely the unique singularity, fulfilling its vast potential, is not an aberration upon the already bleak landscape. No, this not an atrocity. I proclaim my certainty, and the storm rolls on. The illumination of the triumphant sun overcomes the darkness, and the shadow fades from existence.

With the return of sun and cerulean overhead, the skyclad boughs breathe deeply, exhaling in a burst of small jade beads. Each drop of life unfurls into delicate foliage. The coloration astounds me; the tops of the leaves are a soft sage, while the undersides are a creamy lavender. As I sigh in wonder at the beauty before me, a loving breeze embraces the new growths, coaxing forward a flurry of resplendent magenta flowers. They lift off the branches and dance in the wind, spinning and floating higher and farther. Swirls of pinks and purples drift about, and as they land in the dust, color returns to the world. Waves of green grass sway to an unheard song. Sprouts leap from the dirt, instantly maturing into flowers, shrubs, and trees. A clear stream bubbles through a flourishing valley teeming with bright birds and enchanting creatures.

A shadow crosses my path, but the wonder before me towers far above, untouched and unfazed by the insignificant gloom. I whisper to the darkness. “Is this not life?

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