The Red Rose.

Julia smiled when she saw a red rose stuck in her latch.

“Who would have thought of sending me a rose on Valentine’s Day?” she wondered. “I’ve been such an unlovable person these last three years that people actually shun me.”

Julia was once a charming young woman much sought after in social circles. Her marriage to Jimmy completed her happiness. They made a wonderful couple, and their blissful life together must have made even the Gods envious.

And then one day, Jimmy was wrenched out of this world by a gruesome accident. Julia withdrew into a cocoon of self-pity. She shrank from overtures of friendship, refused to discuss her sorrow, and turned into an unsmiling robot.

People now gave her a wide berth. “Let her drown in her own misery,” they said,

“Doesn’t she know that if you laugh, the world laughs with you? But if you weep, you weep alone.”

But someone cared about her.

“This lovely young woman has no business to be sad,” he thought, “What’s eating her? What’s stifling the music in her soul?”

He was only twelve, a tiny fellow with an elfin smile. After school hours, he would help his mother sell flowers from a roadside stall. There were roses of every hue, and a variety of other flowers. People stopped to buy or to merely admire them. But Julia never did. She purposefully strode on, neither turning to right or left.

The boy took to whistling a merry tune each time she passed by. At first it never registered. But gradually she’d slow down as if listening. One day he just didn’t whistle, and she actually stopped and looked in his direction – right into his eyes. The boy saw pain and loneliness in those dark limpid depths. He was determined to make her smile again.

The red rose on Valentine’s day seemed a good idea. Julia’s eyes lit up as she held it to her nose.

“I think I know who put it there.”

She stopped at the flower stall next day. The boy feared she’d tweak his ear for his audacity. Instead, she gave him her sweetest smile.

“Thank you boy, for your thoughtfulness,” she said, “You’ve made my day! I’ve been too wrapped up in my own misery. But your little gesture of concern has lit a lamp to dispel the darkness of my life. Thank you again.”

He came out of the stall and stared after her.

“I’ve done it,” he smiled, “I made her smile again.”

Only when she turned back to wave, did she notice that he had a withered leg.


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