THE LAST ROSE
PART 1 THE COMMANDER
I awake to a screech somewhere far off in the distance. The bitter cold of the drafty house burns through the useless blanket. My little sister trembles with fear as she snuggles in tighter to my body, suffocation my hand as she squeezes it. We both know exactly what the shout of pain means. Somewhere, not too far from our cold broken home another family is being torn apart. Weather they have come to take a child to the School like they do so many other children, or if they are dragging a parent away for punishment, or worse war, the family will never be complete again. Just as our mother and father were ripped from both of us. I, being only eleven at the time was forced to care for my six year old sister. No work. No food. No money. But at least we were together.
I held my sister in my arms, so tiny for being eleven. She had never had a proper meal. Yet she is so blessed. You could barley tell she had any of the TigerGene in her at all. She was beautiful with her long blonde hair, gorgeous glowing green eyes and pale completion. She looked nothing like me, almost my polar opposite. I had never understood why people thought so low of the TigerGene. They should blame the government, not us. They’re the ones who mutated our grandparent’s genes for war so many years ago.
I wrapped my arms tightly around Rose, my sister, as tears wild up in her eyes. Their glowing green softened to a fearful milky green. I began to sing the song my mother always had to her. The song my parents had named her after. I rocked her slowly in my arms as I began the first stanza.
“Alone in the storm
Stands the White rose
Yet tall is the white rose
Strong in the face
I see not the white rose
She is so far away
I long to protect her
But only the words can I say
So I send her my words
And all of my heart
To help her when
We are so far apart
Be strong little flower
Your heart will guide true
And as long as you want
I will always love you
When I finish her tears have sufficed, she’s humming the soft slow melody, her death grip on me loosening. We sit up, the bitter cold of early morning nipping at us in the broken home that we sat inside.
“Tigerlilly, what if they take you?” Rose squeaks so quietly you almost can’t hear her.
“I’m sixteen. They won’t take me. I’m too old to train. They almost never take anybody over the age of 14, Rose.” I nudge her since her looking only at the dirt floor. I would never say but I am much more worried about her. She slowly stands up and turns around to face me. Her eyes are still wet with tears that lie just beyond the surface.
“Come here little flower” I say as she sits back down in front of me and I tie her hair in two long pigtails. She begs to braid my long straight red hair but I refuse. Her eyes look saddened, through they always do. Her stomach growls in hunger pain.
“Hungry?” I ask. She nods vigorously as I take out retrieve one golden coin from my shoe. Her eyes light up with excitement.
“Were did you get that!?” she says exasperated.
“Just sold a few things” I sputter as I quietly keep the information of me selling our mother’s wedding ring a secret. She jolts upward as fast as she can. I follow her as she runs out the door and down the street into town. Her face has the sparkle of excitement on it.
We enter the bakery. As we had over the golden coin for a tiny loaf of bread the baker gives me a smile that is obviously hiding something. It must have been his wife’s scream this morning. Rose and I walk down the street munching on the small roll of bread, slowly savoring the extravagant flavor. But it’s not enough, when it’s gone I’m still hungry and I know Rose is too, though she doesn’t show it.
People are already running from shop to shop in the small town square. The sun is just barley up and it can’t be any later then seven. But there are things to do, place to go, people to be with. My sister sits next to a row of white rose bushes. She always loves them, maybe because of her name, or the lullaby we always sing, but I always thought it was because it reminded her of our mother. The way she always managed to smell like roses, no matter how dirty or muddy she got. The way she would always cut off the thorns and tuck one behind her ear.
I went to sit next to Rose, taking in the scent. She began to count the flowers that overwhelmed each bush. She always seemed to find something to do. I always thought to preoccupy her so she wouldn’t have time to think of all the things wrong with her life, and to delay her thoughts of hunger, anger and unhappiness.
Rose and I are a lot alike in some ways; this is one we different dramatically. She hates down time while I love it, live for it even. The time where I can just sit, contemplate, and arrange my thoughts. Failings away deep in my brain the ones I know won’t help anyone. The thoughts of fear, hatred, anger and brutality. The thoughts of gruesome ends to those I know I will never be able to hurt. Specifically the man that took my mother