Black Roses

by Chaya Tong, age 15
Black Roses Chaya Tong is fifteen years old and goes to school in Orinda, California. In her free time, she enjoys playing violin, rock climbing, and ice skating.

“We planned our funerals together. / You told me you wanted black roses. / ‘Black roses, where can I find those?’ I asked. / ‘I’m sure you’ll figure it out,’ you smiled.”

We planned our funerals together. You told me you wanted black roses.

“Black roses, where can I find those?” I asked.

“I’m sure you’ll figure it out,” you smiled.

I think about that conversation a lot. I think about black roses a lot. In fact, I think about black roses so much that last summer, I tried to make one. I painted a white rose black with acrylic paint I found in my garage. It didn’t work. I threw it away. The black paint smeared on the garbage bag, leaving ugly dark streaks. Last summer was the last time I saw you. Last summer you winked at me and told me to let you know if I ever found a black rose. That was the last thing you told me before you boarded the airplane. The airplane that would take you to Guam. Guam. The island. To be honest, I’m not even sure where that is. I’m not sure why you leaving bothers me. I’m not sure why I’m still looking for black roses.

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