There is warmth in words that one speaks when tale is told to mesmerize those who near to listen. Eavesdropping too can bring about great curiosity, which may playfully result in the desirous fulfillment of a wish through dream. And in such warmth, being charmed by storytelling, we may lengthen a moment to encounter joy in our hearts. For now in these wintry days, a tale or two might make the chill of winter and its snows melt away. Even in a dreary moment, a tale may make spring to mind past moments of endearment, and the hope in future ones.

Once upon a time, there grew a red, red rose, a very red rose. Its petals so red that they were the truest of all the land. Precious, so it was, that its beauty rivaled all other roses. No other rose of such loveliness was there. No other rose there was so dear. No other one rose, like her, that she herself allowed no one to near. No, no one. No one or thing laid hand upon her. Nor was allowed the slightest touch, to caress her soft velvet petals. Ah, for so too beautiful was she that the moonbeams danced for the rose. They danced to please her. They danced to be near her. Even the dawn rose happily to greet her!

“Good day my precious red rose,” said the dawn one early morn.
“Good day,” sweetly replied the rose.
“Hello my lovely rose, the truest in all the land,” spoke the sun, as it gently bathed her in morning light, always greeting her with a shimmering smile.
“Hello,” replied the red, red rose. “And to you, my very blue sky, hello and good day, to you my friend.”

The sky so very contented, turned away all menacing dark clouds. “Today will be a grand rose day, and no rain will be permitted!” said the blue sky. It was a promise well kept. For her beauty, the sky would have denied her nothing, no not one thing, for his precious red, red rose.
The rose’s splendor immense, grew greater and greater, flourished. She had seen many snow winters. She had survived the hardest of times. Through all seasons and the coming of every spring, she had been and will be forever, the reddest of a rose. She had survived all her cousin roses nearby. She had watched them dry out, whither and thin. But she had been and will be forever, the strongest and the reddest of her kind.

One night the nightingale sweetly sang its serenade, in love with the very red rose. Its joyful song enchanted the rose. But, she dare not love the nightingale. No, she’d dare not love the nightingale. So, she sadly thought of the morrow. Her heart filled with untold sorrow. Then, one night, she whispered to the nightingale in her one moment of sadness and despair. “I await you before the hours of sleep. Sweet your song that brings me to weep. How the days and nights, with such beauty you sing your melody. A lovely tune it is that rests upon my memory. But sweet nightingale, before the dawn I will tell you my one secret, before you have gone. But you must promise to never say a word, ever. I beg you,” pleaded the rose, “not ever.” “I promise, I do, pledging upon my song. I will keep your one secret, for this you will never regret.” The nightingale’s promise was given, believing to have won the heart of the rose. “Oh nightingale, my friend, I live forever. There is no end. One day I implored Mother Earth to grant me just one wish. It was eternity, I so desired. She listened and she obliged. As the reddest of roses and the truest, I must…I must not lose, no not one petal,” she warned. “As long as all petals have I, I will live an eternal life. Neither, must I ever love, never! That is the wish granted me, for I am the first eternal rose. That is my secret. That is my truth, my promise, my vow to my stem, my leaves, my petals and to all my thorns; that I mustn’t And I must not lose, no, not one petal!”

The nightingale, more in love than ever, sang of its love for the disheartened rose. But she fearful of such love, refused. “I must not love. I can not love,” she warned, “for I would shed my petals. That is my secret. That is my truth. I must not lose, no, not one petal!” The nightingale sang its serenade once more. From his heart his song soared. Most sweet its music that enchanted the red rose. But she wouldn’t yield, no she wouldn’t. For, so was her tale. So was their fate. The nightingale took flight, embracing the sky. Mournful was its cry. His heart wounded by the reddest, the truest of a rose. With its song, its sorrow, it fled. And it did not return. No, the nightingale would not return, to neither sing its song, nor serenade beneath the petals of the reddest of a rose.

The seasons passed, one by one: the fall, winter, summer and spring. But, came no more the nightingale. The year then became two then three. Paled the very red and truest of a red rose. She then began to lose her petals, one by one. Her beauty swiftly wilted beneath the sun. Soon, her color was no longer the truest of red roses. Her stem, her leaves, her thorns wept in hopelessness. How time had passed then with great longing, for returned the nightingale in search of the truest of red roses. It searched and searched, but could not find, the very dearest of red roses.

“Oh blue sky, where is the truest of red roses?”questioned the nightingale, stretching forth toward the sky. “I can not find the very red rose.” But suddenly and without warning, the sky filled the heavens with dark clouds, uttering not a word, nor a whisper. The nightingale, saddened, went to seek the help of the sun. “Dearest of friends, where is the truest of red roses. I have returned.” But the sun began to set, leaving the moon and the lonely night. Yet still with great courage, the nightingale continued in its search. “Oh moonbeams that once danced for the truest of a rose, that danced to near her as I too so desire, where is the reddest of roses?” But the moonbeams fled, hid themselves from the nightingale. They would not speak. No, they would not speak.

After many hours, dawn soon arose with all its splendor. The nightingale was still in search of the red rose. And the dawn seeing and hearing the nightingale’s cry, called out… “Nightingale, oh nightingale, you have returned!” “Yes, and I seek the very red and truest of a rose” replied the nightingale. “Where…” “She has gone. She has gone,” whimpered the dawn. “There, where she once grew eternal, tall her stem, her vital leaves, her thorns―she has gone.”

The nightingale batted gently its wings, raised its head high in gratitude to the dawn. It flew round and about where once stood the red rose. It perched itself near where its serenade could be heard. And once again the nightingale sang its song. From night ’til dawn it went on and on. Never, no not once to stop that very summer,’til fall.’Til winter, ’til the spring it would sing and sing. Yes…’til one day budded forth and returned the very red, and truest of a rose that spring.

Slowly…she stretched forth her stem, her leaves, her thorns and her very red, red petals, one by one. Enchanting is the rose, she has returned for her nightingale. No, now neither immortal, nor eternal would she be; though every spring she’d return, for the nightingale to sing.

Copyright © 2003 USA by Barbara Lois Hurt. All Rights Reserved.