E. Michelle Logan
Disclaimer: Sorry, but the Utena world and its characters are not mine to revolutionize.
Thanks to Seema for the beta and to Yasha for the helpful suggestions.
You watch the falling rain as you water the roses, listening as each drop falls lightly against the greenhouse glass and then slides downward, deeper, deeper. The rain starts to fall harder, battering itself against the greenhouse noisily and you find yourself staring into the sky through the glass.
“What futility,” you think pessimistically. You continue to water the roses, little pink heads, little orange heads, little yellow heads, endless rows of heads. The harsher sound of the rain falling against the glass, it pleases you. Water poured from a can onto a flower doesn’t have the same effect as a wild storm swirling nourishing, loving drops onto a bowed head you feel.
You sigh. The roses in the garden have no choice: you water them or no one waters them. A frown settles on your lips and you set the watering can down on the cement. The roses wait in front of you. You are the basis of their existence, yet you are not the source of their nourishment. Something else drives them onward.
You feel hurt; so much of yourself has been given to the roses. You have devoted so much of yourself to their buds, to their familiar scent yet they never search for you, never hope for you in the night. Then when you come to them, when you worry about them endlessly, there is nothing left for you but hundreds, thousands, millions of aphids and thorns.
The idea of leaving appeals to you, but who would take care of the roses? That’s what you do. You take care of the roses. You water them and then can only stand by when they bask in the glow of the sun. The rain outside of the windows attracts your attention once again. The roses hate the rain.
Accidentally, you upset the watering can as you reach for it. The liquid moves darkly over the cement, over the cracks, embracing specks of dirt and drowning unaware snails and spiders and all you can do is watch. The frown on your face deepens.
You hate the roses; hate them for the lip-like softness of their petals and the way that they pretend to need you, to want you. You hate the way the ribbed leaves pull against your warm, dark skin as you move through the greenhouse in an endless revolution.
Mechanically, you pick up the watering can and look into it. In the bottom of its hollowness you see a small amount of water lapping desperately at the metal sides of the can. You can barely make out your own reflection staring back at you bleakly from the depths.
A sudden spark of emotion fills you and you turn away from the can and yourself. The roses watch, quietly waiting for you to make your inevitable choice. You glance at them before you walk into the rain, the watering can clasped in your hands, your eyes hidden by your glasses.
Slowly you move through the downpour. The rain suits you, you feel. The roses hate the rain; the roses hate you. The rain pelts against you sharply, biting your skin with its iciness. You ignore the pain, ignore the millions of drops, millions of thorns and millions of swords. No matter what you say, no matter what you do, in the end you do it because you serve the roses. In the end, you love the roses.
Footfalls interrupt your thoughts. The sounds of heavy breathing and feet splashing through the puddles reach your ears. A young girl runs past you using her school satchel as a makeshift umbrella. Abruptly, she stops and doubles back, coming to a halt in front of you.
“Himemiya, you’ll get soaked!” the girl admonishes quickly. She grabs your hand despite its iciness and pulls you along. In your hurry, you drop the watering can and you look back over your shoulders as it clatters to the ground forlornly.
You watch the girl as she forces you to move through the storm. The rain, the roses, the swords, everything is forgotten in a brief moment. You listen to the sound of your breathing and her own, to the splashes of your feet and hers against the wet concrete.
Together, you run into your shared dorm room. Breathing heavily, she laughs and looks out the window at the rain pouring downwards, splattering against the windowpane. She turns back to you and looks you over, takes in your pathetic dripping body as you stand shivering, a puddle forming at your feet.
“Hey, Himemiya, the rain doesn’t suit you.” She says and smiles at you. She pulls off her sopping jacket and drops it unceremoniously on the back of the chair facing her desk. You watch quietly.
She doesn’t need you, yet she smiles at you; she supports you. She wants you to be happy. She has made you her flower, her rose. She nurtures you and protects you, but in the end you are no better than the roses you hate so much. You never hope for her in the endless hours of the night, never cry her name in your happiest moments when the world actually feels beautiful. You yearn for the sole thing she cannot give you, yet she keeps on trying to give, keeps on shining.
She never chose the role of gardener, not like you. Years ago you chose to care for the roses knowing that once you began you could never stop. The garden she tends has one tiny flower buried in its own thorns and protected by an endless army of weeds trying to be flowers, yet she keeps gardening for the sake of that sole bud.
“Does she realize the extent of the danger she places herself in?” You ask yourself. “Does she care?” A warmth comes over you as she turns to you and smiles. Suddenly artificial light feels almost as welcome and wonderful as sunlight. You want to bask in her smile. You want to grow, yet…you know that although the gardener works to meet the flower’s every desire, the flower never chooses when it gets picked.