~~~~((~~~((@ THE ROSE GARDEN @))~~~))~~~~
From the memoirs of Chiba Mamoru, as re-told to Pandora Diane Waldron
"Mystery glows in the rose bed, the secret is hidden in the rose." --Farid ud-din Attar, 12th Century Persian poet.
Chapter 4: Alone
Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend (Funk & Wagnalls, 1972) includes the following information:
"Originally from Persia, the rose is said to have been brought to the West by Alexander. To the Arabs the rose was a masculine flower. It was anciently a symbol of joy, later of secrecy and silence, but is now usually associated with love."
I take a deep breath. I could be alone like this a very long time. I have to learn to be strong, I have to learn to hide my feelings. I must learn self-control. Cry, and you cry alone. If no one cares about me, I will have to learn to take care of myself. No one will have to help Chiba Mamoru, this person I have become.
After they released me from the hospital, it was much as I had expected. No one wanted to adopt a boy of unknown origins, with a prior head injury, who was filled with wary distrust after his alienating experiences in the hospital. I believed no one wanted me, and that, naturally, was a self-fulfilling prophecy. I gazed at every couple with suspicion, analyzing their hidden motives with all the cool unemotional assessment of a chess player, not of a boy not yet grown to adolescence. "He is strange," Id hear them tell the orphanage administrators when they thought I wasnt listening. "Yes, he is very intelligent, as you say, but the way he stares at us! He is so cold and unfriendly. A dangerous boy, that. WE dont need to take on those kind of problems!"
Then they would send the counsellors in to "talk" to me. And I would stare them down. Give them polite answers when that would make them leave me alone, and brusque answers if that didnt work. Finally, the counsellors would sigh and say, "Leave him alone. He seems to like working in the garden, doesnt he? Really good with roses, you say? Well then, leave him be. He cant get into much trouble there, now can he? And well try again in a few months to get him a placement." And I would smile to myself. Thats what THEY think.
It was a solitary life, but Id stopped realizing that there was any other way to live. I got very good at gardening, and started to do all the really tough outside work no one else wanted to do. And I played darts A LOT. "What a throw that kid has!" Id hear the orphanage staff say. I probably could have won a championship, but that would have meant socializing. And I was quite happy to hit bulls-eye after bulls-eye, with a stray cat, named Phoebe, as my only audience. The orphanage staff may never have understood me, but Phoebe did. Purrfectly.. Funny, I could warm up just fine to cats, to small animals, even to plants. But not people.
But when I turned fifteen, things changed for me. Thats when Mrs. Suzuki became the new director of the orphanage.
PLEASE GO TO CHAPTER 5: The Lamp Post Acrobat