Tuesday, January 20, 2009
He spoke to her, glancing up from the wheelchair. "This is my plan. You will take the roses, much like the one you see in the vase, sneak out after curfew, transplant them in the locations I told you, then slip away, hours before the dawn reveals your work. My underground greenhouse has a capacity to produce several dozen specimans a week, ripe and ready for the subversion. With a full night of setting the plants, you can instigate enough chaos to paralyze the authorities. They will not know what to do. There is no contingency for such a situation. Someone will see the roses. And the idea will be born. The regime can't stand more than two weeks of the resulting affection before it finally collapses."
"I love it!" she exclaimed to him, using the forbidden word. "And after the collapse, it will be as it was before, like in the stories you told me?"
"Yes," he answered, "you will look at a boy, he will look at you, you will sense an expectation, moments when the mere act of breathing becomes an exhilaration. He will feel the same. Somehow, mysteriously, inexplicably, you will find yourself holding hands. Oh, don't laugh, it will happen. It always did. No one could explain how. It was all quite innocent - nothing wrong in it at all, despite the official ban on affection, despite your parents' fear to practice anything else. It was the motor of our lives, before the era when love became a forgotten idea."
"Will you tell me that story again," she asked him, "it is so sad, but I always like the way you tell it to me."
"There is time until dusk, before you can begin with the roses, so why not, though it is sad for me, too, to tell it to you. I suppose it begins with the simple idea, 'A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.' But who could have known that such a simple truth could be subverted? What if no one knows the name, what if the rose gradually becomes anonymous, completely unnoticed, forgotten. And that is what happened. It began with the regimentation in school. The continual studies, each hour planned, each afterhour filled with an assignment. It continued into the university. No time left for breathing, for a quiet meadow, for the holding of hands, for a rose. We kept everyone on a treadmill, and once the studies were completed, each was assigned an employment completely automated. No colleagues, only mechanisms and electronics to deal with. It wasn't intended, but soon it happened. Every human being was completely isolated. No one knew or had time for anyone else. With so little contact, the concept of names grew dim. Names were no longer needed, no longer thought of. Affection was the next to wither away. As this reality grew into the status quo, everything that was not this status quo became forbidden. That in itself is completely natural - regardless of what the status quo might be. People were afraid to think of anything else, afraid to break the years of conditioning that allowed no other alternative. So they continue in their established pattern, with no impetus to ever break out of it. Alone, so utterly alone, in a collective completely blind to its parts."
"It's like a dark rose the way you tell it to me," she said, an affectionate look in her eyes.
"I am the only one who can tell you this story. I was the only one who stood above the process. Fourty years long I ruled this society. I had to be aware, even if I did not consider the implications, or even understand them. But it was all my fault to have let it develop as it did..."
"I see the tears welling in your eyes, grandfather. Don't worry. I will plant the roses."
He smiled. "I know you will." Then he winked at her, and she smiled. Soon she would leave with the roses, soon they would be rooted in the public earth. They would be seen, and the pattern would break. Those who beheld would find a name for the roses. And what he did not tell her, but what he knew would be. Some boy, somewhere, would find one of the roses, would find her, and return the flower to her as a present.
Happy New Year, and a Happy New Age! Note: This story was written last year, but seems to me to fit well to the occasion (Inauguration Day). This day, more than any other in my memory is a the beginning of a New Age...