Next to him was a full bloomed rose who let out a frustrated grunt. "Maybe next time" the older rose muttered, to himself, but the young rose overheard. It took the young one a moment or two to process the older one's expression and words. When he realized the older was genuinely disappointed, instead of overwhelmingly relieved, the younger one became greatly confused and troubled.
Trembling still a bit the rose asked the other rose a quavery "why?" He had meant to ask a whole question but all that came out was why.
"Why what, young bud?" The rose's voice was gruffer now, and he had already settled back down onto the branch. He had puffed himself up, fluffing out his petals as far as they would go so he would be selected and now he curled back into himself again, and sulked.
The bud caught the gruffness and took it for irritation which angered him enough to stop the trembling and spit out his question. "Why are you sad you weren't picked? I mean... you are alive!"
Looking up from his self-pity the older flower saw the bud. Though they had subsided greatly the bud was still wracked with trembles. He was terrified. The older one remembered how scared he was when he first realized that a giant hand with scissors was reaching down to pluck some of them away. What wouldn't be daunting about that?
Speaking carefully and gently the rose explained. "Little bud, what is our purpose here if not to be picked so that we can be enjoyed? To be chosen for our beauty so we can be displayed on the picker's table. To be plucked so that we may be crushed into a lovely fragrance. To be cut off so that we may be given in love to someone."
Stammering confusion the bud only managed to get out a few statements like "but.. but..." and "..I?..." and then he closed his rose mouth and thought for a moment.
While he was mulling those deep words over the older one pressed gently on. "Dear bud, what kind of end do you truly want? For we have such a short time here. Some do spend all their time on the bush. They never get chosen to go early and they go old and weathered, eventually falling down heavy to the ground. We all go though, there is no getting away from that. And there is no shame in living out your days in full, but, that is not the life for me. I want to be chosen. I want to be an offering of beauty. I want to be given in love. So each time the picker comes I fluff out my blooms as full as I can and I stand tall."
"Oh." The bud said, letting the beautiful truths spoken sink down deep into his little heart. "But the scissors seem scary? And you mentioned being crushed!" With the word crushed he could help but shudder and then he fell quiet.
Eventually the older flower responded. "Yes. Sometimes the end is painful. For some more than others. And I hope, little one, for your sake you get a quick and painless end. That you are snipped clean for a bowl and set on a counter with others to drink in the last days with honor. That you bring beauty and joy to the room. That you bring it to the one who picked you. For the scissors are the quickest way and from what I've heard hurt the least."
"Is that what you want to? To be picked for the flower bowl?"
Smiling, and gazing off towards the house fondly, the older flower said: "No, I would rather be a fragrance. I would endure the pain to travel on the wind and bring a scent of beauty to all around. Plus. I would rather it be I that be chosen to be crushed than any other rose."
Silence followed as the little bud realized he was standing next to a hero and he suddenly felt selfish for wanting an easier way but honored that there were those who would choose the harder way. For him. That would give themselves as a sacrifice when needed.
At the next choosing time the little bud did his best to stand up tall and fluff out his petals. When the hand reached down towards them the little bud was a bit saddened to not be picked but rejoiced to see the older one was. The bud looked up as the picker held the flower up to his nose. "Ah. Yes, this one will do nicely," said the picker in a booming voice as he drank in the scent of the flower.
The little bud sank down as the picker retreated to the house. Next time a tiny bud let out a relieved "whoop." Smiling the bud turned to explain a thing or two to his younger friend. Someday, the bud hoped, someday he would be chosen.