It’s 2041, the year when genuine love of a person can literally enhance the beauty of a flower.
Perhaps the engineered seed of the Crown Rose is not the most useful of innovations, but it’s one of the most romantic. It’s a product either of a freak accident in a botanical alchemist’s laboratory or the last wish ever granted by an alleged modern genie. No one really cares about its origins.
I’m a non-professional Crown Rose grower. Growers are a new group of artists that appeared in the wake of the rose’s emergence, and their input is true love. They care for roses, and the kind of love they show their plants will be manifested in the petals: tender pink and soft like cotton candy, red-striped white like a sweet licorice stick, or vibrant royal violet adorned with sepals that curl like green tiaras. The most fascinating thing I found out about the petals is that they are like human fingerprints and lion nuzzles—they are genuine. But as we all know, any type of natural beauty can be stolen and imitated through “art.”
I’ll tell you a different kind love story.
Like what I said, I’m a non-professional grower. I don’t receive any kind of compensation for the roses I grow. It’s my passion; I love the plants as if they're real babies, and for some reason I think they love me back. It’s hard to explain, but if you’re a grower, you’ll understand what I mean.
Sometimes people come over at my miniature belvedere to adore my flowers. Most of them are non-professional growers too, and I ask permission to look at their own oeuvre. The kind gardeners give me tips and advice after learning what kind of love I'm using to nurture my seeds. "Engineered fertilizers," we call them. In non-grower lingo they're called "constructive criticisms."
I think it’s important to note that I leave my greenhouse open most of the time, and I usually don’t see the need to keep track of who’s coming in to take a look at my plants. Now, there’s this one grower who arrested my attention. She isn't a blatant reviewer or watcher. From what I’ve observed after a certain string of…let’s say “suspicious” events, she’s kind of stealthy with an impressive gumshoeing expertise, sharp eyes on objects that is currently no one’s focus. And she’s my friend.
There came a time when she asked me to look at her plants. It’s a “gardeners talk”, so to speak. Her baby was good, and initially I was amused at the “aesthetic coincidences” in terms of the appearance and fragrance of her new rose and a flower I kept in the safety of my old belvedere. I didn’t suspect her of anything, because honestly I’m not the type that tries to flip someone around to see what parts of him or her are rotting. It’s a flaw, I guess, to think people can do good all the time.
So yes, the first time was kind of “cool.” But the second time? The third time? The fourth time? And every single time, she came to me to ask for my opinion about it. The memories were making me tongue-tied.
At first I didn’t say anything about the resemblances I noticed, because I understand that nothing is original. Oh, I thought, maybe we’re like each other’s aesthetic soulmate! But when the repetitions came often, this thought dwindled away like gusts of wind that finally passed. I don’t call that coincidence anymore. The little cynical voice in my head got a tad louder by the minute. I never wanted to scrutinize the similarities, but the circumstances became suspicious enough to prompt me to give her works a once-over. I wish I could show you the details—like the curls of every leaf and the chips at the torns—but if I do that, I might as well just drop her name. I won’t. That’s the point of this story.
How can someone duplicate love, you wonder? Good question. The answer is, you can’t. I believe my friend has a love for our art, because in the first place, that’s what makes our roses bloom. But love alone is not enough. Being inspired is one thing; filching is another. If you swaddle your love with the threads you wove from somebody else’s tapestry of passion, complete with the exact frills and imperfections (only tweaking the edges so it wouldn’t be too obvious), you should understand there’s something wrong in the picture. Especially if you flaunt it and label it "MINE."
Now I understand I have a fault here, too. I shouldn’t have left my greenhouse open to everyone—I practically invited danger. I can be protective of my roses, I admit, but that’s not what I’m most concerned about. She's not the first person who did this. A couple of anonymous planters stole pots of my roses and displayed them in their houses before, and what did I do? Just laughed it off, shrugged it off. Our dilemma is a bit different and worse. I'm continuing mulling over the fact that (1) I never expected her, of all people, to do something like this and (2) she’s always showing me her roses for advice and comments, and then feigning shock when she finds out I have a similar rose. It's kind of like the culprit slapping the victim (not the best analogy, but you get the point). Sometimes thoughts like “are you mocking me?” fly in my head. But maybe no? I don’t know. I thought perhaps she’s attempting to let me know that she has cultivated creepy dead ringers of my roses so I wouldn’t freak out about it when I find it out later on. It’s so complicated.
I caught her one time, when she showed me a new baby of hers. I told her I have an old rose like it, and she went, "Amazing, it's the first time I saw this! Their petals have the same feel!" Take note: she hasn't even touched the petals. You haven't even mastered the art of con, my sweet.
As I’ve said, I’m just a non-professional grower. I can’t even pay the Nanny-Bot’s battery allowance to save my life, more so to take action regarding this little plight! But from now on, here’s what I’ll do: I’ll still grow roses, but I’ll be locking the belvedere. The ones I’ve left in the open, I’m going to let them stay there. They may need to be defended when the time comes.
She’s a grower with potential, I believe that. She just needs to grow out of this phase. I know that someday, she’ll be proud of something she can call her own. :) Like this little entry. It’s not a short story, but I can call it—quite proudly—mine.