A friend gave me a tiny crystal vase the size of my thumb. It was perfect for my little NYC studio, but finding a flower to fit it was challenging. So the vase sat in a corner, gathering dust, awaiting its turn for the trash bin. That was until I discovered a tiny park on the street corner near my apartment. The couple of benches there are usually occupied by people planning to spend the night on them. It has minimal landscaping, and the flowers are mostly wildflowers, with many branches falling over the park’s railings.  

Some of these branches are of small bright red wild roses, and one day while walking past them, I realized the wild roses were the perfect size for my vase. So I quickly plucked one flower and rushed home.  My vase lit up instantly, the bright red hue of the rose showing its crystal contours in sharp relief. It was a match made in heaven; the little rose sat atop the vase as though it had settled into a comfortable couch. Working at my desk became a delight with a freshly picked red wild rose by my side.

Thus began my romance with the wild roses in the park. Since I only needed one flower a week, I spent the remaining time admiring the rose bushes. Hardly anyone passing by glanced at the flowers, but I observed each rose, my heart filling up as precious tiny buds bloomed and then withered away, completing a cycle of life under my watch. Whenever I needed a flower, I went to the park early in the morning to avoid being seen. But I needed validation, so I took a friend to the crime scene. She, a gardening enthusiast, assured me I was doing the rose bushes a favor by pruning them, one rose at a time.      

As the summer days became oppressively hot, the flowers withered away, and the branches dried up. And then, one morning, after many weeks of barrenness, one tiny rosebud appeared, curled up, the sun cajoling it to wake up. It was breathtakingly beautiful. Although my vase had been empty for weeks, I couldn’t bring myself to pluck it. A bud so beautiful deserved to be a  free-range rose, with nature deciding its fate. Soon the bushes were full of flowers because the landscaper had pruned them, and my little vase was rosy again. 

I was proud of my secret tryst with the roses. I was sure only I stopped to smell the roses while others hurried by, wrapped up in their thoughts. And then, one day, during my morning walk, I noticed a man standing next to the wild rose bushes, glancing furtively around him. I could tell he was up to something, and soon he took out a pair of scissors, snipped a couple of roses, and quickly walked away.  

My status instantly fell from being the lone rose admirer to one among the many rose pilferers.   

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