‘I do love roses,’ she said, caressing the red petals with a finger. ‘Do you love roses too?’

‘Uh, s-sure,’ he said. The fragrance in the garden made him feel slightly light headed.

‘Did you come here to see my roses?’ she asked.

‘Actually,’ he began, but then she threw a black lock over her shoulder and smiled at him and instead of continuing: ‘I was just lost’, he said: ‘I came to see you.’

She chuckled and he was reminded of silver bells.

‘I have white roses too,’ she said, ‘and pink, and yellow and even some that are black. Have you seen that before? Black roses?’

He shook his head, mouth slightly open.

‘Let me show you then,’ she took his hand and he felt a stab in his heart and a numbing thrill spread through his body as she lead him along the garden path.

‘Here,’ she stopped and gestured, but everything other than her had become a blur.

‘Beautiful,’ he said, looking into her dark eyes.

‘Would you like to stay with me?’ she asked.

‘Of course,’ he said, ‘I could stay here forever.’

‘Forever?’ she placed a hand on his chest, ‘are you sure?’

‘Yes,’ he said, ‘if it’s with you.’

‘You probably won’t last forever,’ gently she pushed him into the rosebushes which at once wrapped themselves around him. ‘But then you can be part of the roses. And as long as I’m here there will be roses.’

He hardly felt the thorns.

39 Dreams

And then he woke up.

The sun was already halfway up the sky, so he rushed through breakfast, packed his tent into his backpack and set off up the mountain. And he knew that today he would reach the top. Today he would get his prize.

Dusty and tired he reached the summit and there growing right out of the rock was the blood red rose. He stretched out his hand. Grabbed it. The thorns pierced his skin, but he ignored the sting. He pulled until the stem snapped.

‘Ha!’ he said, the blood dripping from his hand, ‘I did it.’

And the whole mountain trembled. The rock beneath his feet cracked.

‘But I got it!’ he screamed, ‘I won!’

But the mountain was already crumbling.

And then he woke up.

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