Red Rose on White

By Eric J. Krause

Gran pointed to the upper left corner of the quilt. A red rose, beautifully crafted, sat on an all white background.

"This was going to be just a rose," Gran told me. "I love roses, and your Granddad, he loved them, too. But after I made it, it became so much more than just a simple rose.

Do you see it?"

I looked hard, first squinting to take in all the details at once, and then letting my eyes go slack to see if I could peripherally spot what she wanted me to see. I couldn't. It was just a rose.

"I only see a rose, Gran."

"The background, dear. What does the background say to you?"

I scrutinized the quilt square again, but it was just a white background. I told Gran as much.

She smiled at me. "Such a literal mind. That's not bad, not one bit, I suppose, but look deeper. The rose is lying on a bed of white. Could it be snow, or a big fluffy cloud? So many possibilities. It could be a single rose, left on the silk sheets by a newlywed husband, showing his undying love to his lovely bride. Or it could be a widow's gift to her long deceased husband. She might have plucked the rose early in the morning, when the dew still trickled down the petals. As she wandered into an open meadow, she tossed the rose as high as she could, with her only wish being for her dear departed soulmate to know that she still missed him madly. Maybe a gust of wind took that rose and gently pushed it higher and higher. When the wind could take it no further, it set the rose down on a big white puffy cloud, which in turn carried it up for her husband. He'll know she still loves him, and he'll look forward to when they can be together again, this time forever."

Gran paused. "I never meant for that square to say so much, but that's just how these things turn out sometimes."

I sat there, just staring at the solitary rose sitting on a bed of white. But not merely a white background, I saw that now.

Neither Gran nor I said anything for a long time. The quilt lay across our laps, the rose in the upper left square in plain view for both of us. I was the one who broke the silence.

"What's the next square of, Gran?"