Stop and Smell the Roses
Angela L. 7A2
As the colors of dawn crept in through the stained glass windows, the mahogany door creaked open and a petite girl stepped into the front hall. “Hello?” her sweet voice rung through the empty room as she closed the front door. The clicks of high heels were sharp on the marble floor and a woman stepped into the room. “You are Miss Miriam, I presume?” the woman asked in a haughty voice. “Yes,” Miriam replied,”and you are?”
“Mrs. Malvolio, pleasure to meet you. I am your caretaker and I will look after you. I will not tolerate any funny business; you are allowed to sit in your room and entertain yourself with books, but you are not to roam the house or bother anyone,” Mrs. Malvolio said, looking down the bridge of her long nose at Miriam and raising a thin eyebrow. Miriam nodded and Mrs. Malvolio guided her towards her room. Her back was as straight as a ruler and her graying hair was tied neatly into an immaculate bun at the nape of her neck. As they entered a guest room, Miriam lace her suitcase and backpack on the floor and sat on the bed.
“Your clothes are dirty and you are ruining the covers, get off the bed!” Mrs. Malvolio reprimanded, Miriam shooting to her feet. “Sorry,” her small voice spoke as she looked down at the floor. “Get settled and changed and I will bring you lunch,” Mrs. Malvolio said, leaving the room and shutting the door with a small click. Miriam sighed, falling back onto the bed. Her thoughts clouded her mind as she thought about the whirlwind of events.
Her mother sang sweetly as her father drove through the winding mountain, humming along to her mother’s soft words. Miriam sat in the backseat as she watched the landscape blur by. There was a feeling of soft sunshine and hazy days, with the excitement of trips stretching smiles across her face. Soon, however, her world of blooming magnolias would wilt as a truck slid across the oil slick road. It tried to veer to the right, but it ended up rolling onto the side of the road, blocking the entirety of the street. Her father couldn’t pause in time, their car crashing head first into the overturned truck. Screams echoed through the abandoned road as sirens flashed blue and red lights. Miriam couldn’t yell, her head was a dizzying color of purple and her organs fought to stay alive and breathe.
“There’s a child and three adults!” a voice cried as the car was broken open. Miriam opened her blood crusted eyes and saw nothing but red. On the seats, on the windows, on her parents. Arms grabbed her and pulled her out of the broken vehicle, Miriam thrashing valiantly, her arms reaching for her parents.
“Mom! Dad!” Miriam finally croaked out, but it was too late. A nurse came to hug her, wrapping her dark arms against Miriam’s pale, red skin, stroking her damp blonde curls and humming a soft lullaby. Tears fell rapidly as two other men were tending to her parents. They were bloody and cut, deep gashes across both of them.
One of the paramedics paused before setting down his equipment, hanging his head as he whispered,” Name is Victoria Arrington, date is December 23, 2016, dead at 8:06.”
A scream was ripped out of Miriam’s throat as her mother was wheeled away in a body bag, simply tossing her away into an ambulance. The other paramedic was working vigorously, accompanied by a large group of nurses and the first paramedic.
Please, Father, I need you, please, Miriam thought as she watched them checking his stats and sealing his gashes. Suddenly, they all stepped back and their heads fell in despair.
“No! No! He can’t be dead! Please! Help! There must be something you can do!” Miriam screamed, her voice cracking in hysteria. She fought against the nurses that were restraining her from tackling the doctors.“There’s nothing we can do.”
“Please! There has to be something!” Miriam wailed, her voice growing smaller until it was barely whisper, her legs giving up and letting her fall to the road.“There has to be something,” Miriam whispered, tears rapidly falling until she couldn’t cry anymore. Darkness edged into her eyes and she fell into a realm of chaotic sadness.
“May I ask why you are here?” Mrs. Malvolio asked, watching Miriam push around the vegetables on her plate. Miriam gulped as memories flashed by,”My parents got hit by a driver and died.” “And you are living at this residence because?”
“Bradley is my brother,” Miriam said before looking down, not wanting to speak anymore. Miriam stood up and walked away from the table as Mrs. Malvolio’s face softened. Walking around the estate, Miriam heard the rustling of papers and the muttering of, ”I need to get this right.”Miriam peeked through the door to see a blond head of hair tilted over a stack of papers, his face twisted in concern and his blue eyes shining with frustration.
“Wanna get some ice cream?” Miriam suggested softly, poking her head through the threshold. Bradley looked up and glared at her,”Get out.” “Why?”“Because I need to work on something that could get me millions of dollars for Reflection!”
Reflection was a company that Bradley founded. It was a piece of technology that would allow family to know where each other was, built in a ring. It vibrated for messages with a secret tracking device installed in. “Don't you have enough money?”“What's some more?”Miriam nodded slightly and left, feeling defeated.
It’s my fault. That mother and father died. That Bradley hates me. I shouldn’t be here. I want to go home, Miriam thought, furrowing her brows in a desperate attempt to not cry. She walked to her room and picked up a book, immersing herself in a world of magic, hoping to obliviate any feelings of sadness as she curled up on the couch with a blanket wrapped around her. A small smile crept onto her face as she was whisked away into a world where frustration and anger didn’t exist, but laughter and happiness.
A few days later, Bradley walked into the estate with a bright smile on his face. Miriam was sitting in the dining room with a blank expression on her face as she ate her sandwich.
“I got the deal!” Bradley exclaimed, holding a pristine sheet of paper and pumping his fist in the air. Miriam had a ghost of a smile on her face and whispered,”Congrats, how much money did you make?”“I don't know, but the number has a lot of zeros.”
“Great. I'm happy for you,” Miriam whispered before exiting the room. Bradley didn’t notice her presence was gone. Bradley didn't notice the damp, stormy gray eyes or the tears falling in streams down her cheeks or the silent sobs racking her throat and her chest because money was all that mattered.
“Good morning, Mr. Arrington!”
“Top of the morning to you, boss.”
“Have a good day, sir.”
Bradley smiled as he was greeted by the many employees at his company. He walked to his office and settled down, sitting in an expensive leather chair. “Excuse me, boss, but I have some important files for you to sort out and sign.” Bradley nodded as a stack of paper greeted his desk. Clicking a pen, he read over the first few sentences before his secretary came in,”Mr. Arrington, you have an appointment tomorrow and a meeting in an hour. There are some people who want to work here and here are their résumés. We need someone for filing and Mrs. Kassel is requesting an assistant, whom she is willing to train.”
Bradley nodded and started to look through papers,”I will get back to you on this.” The door clicked quietly shut and Bradley started on the files, signing a few papers before switching over to a Manila folder of résumés, raising eyebrows at impressive lies and truths. The sudden hollow echo of knuckles rapping on the door caused Bradley to look up from the list of new employees and ones that second in waiting. “Excuse me, sir, but we have a meeting on the statistics of Reflection,” a meek voice said, accompanied by a petite young woman, who seemed new. Bradley nodded and stood up, taking his notebook and pen and leaving the pile of papers for another day.
Minutes stretched into hours and Bradley was able to finally leave the building. Sleep tried to succumb his body as he sat in his office, organizing papers, before he glanced at the clock. In thick, digital letters, the face of the clock read 11:37 PM. Rubbing his face, Bradley gathered his jacket and briefcase and exited the building, the cold night air wrapping around him.
It was one of those nights in the city, where you are forced to breathe on your hands, making them cold and clammy. Your breath is a cloud of silver air and the delicate touch of frost is nipping at your nose and your fingertips. Shudders run up your spine and cars run in a trickling stream, the low sounds of rubber on asphalt whizzing past you. Moonlight guides your way through the city, accompanied by the occasional flash of headlights, and the dark sky greets you with the blinking stars. Tonight, Bradley walks alone, the only company the stars, beacons of lost hope in the sky, and the curved moon, a scythe which cuts through the lonely horizon and allows new thoughts to grow. Silence fills the streets, but Bradley’s mind was all but silent. Thoughts about new ways to grow the company and ideas on gaining more money was in every nook and cranny in his head.
As he entered the estate, he thought he heard the faint shuffle of feet and a miniscule sniffle. Bradley checked his watch, seeing the early morning time of 1:28 AM on the face of his Rolex. Shaking his head, he wondered why he would have thought of those things, surely nobody in the house would be awake this early in the morning. Bradley dropped his things and climbed the stairs to his room, falling into his bed as the carousel of thoughts slowed to a halt and the darkness succumbed him, swirling him into the beautiful chaos of oblivion.
Suddenly, the rambunctious blaring of the alarm clock jarred Bradley out of his peaceful slumber. His body urged him to stay in the cocoon of warmth, but his mind screamed to get out of bed. After the internal fight of to stay or not to stay, Bradley eventually stood up and got ready. As he entered the dining room, he saw Miriam. Her eyes were glazed with a glassy layer of sadness, her lips quivering in an attempt to smile, her cheeks stained with tears and emotions.
“Are you alright, Miriam?” Bradley asked, poking his omelette around the plate. Miriam nodded slowly, taking a shaky breath, almost as if she were trying to convince herself that she was alright. Bradley looked back down at his eggs and stood up,”I’m going to work now.”
Miriam murmured a quiet “goodbye” and Mrs. Malvolio went to take his plate and wash it, looking back that Miriam before leaving to the kitchen.
Bradley arrived at the building, smiling at his hard work. Sitting back on his chair, he felt the power rush through his veins. There was nothing on his schedule today, but signing papers, checking statistics, etc. He gazed at the stacks of paper on his desk and sighed, rolling up his sleeves and clicking his pen open. Reading through the files, Bradley got through a few packet before he got distracted in his mind. Thoughts raced through his mind:What if something happens? What if the contract is manipulated? What if I lose everything?
The paralyzing anxiety spread through his body like icy, liquid metal, shackling his hands to fists and covering his thoughts in an illusion of fear. Panic began like cluster of spark plugs in his abdomen, his breathing becoming rapid and shallow. Tension grew in his face and limbs, his mind a hurricane of one word: go. He stood up quickly, his heart echoing in his ears. Bradley almost sprinted out of the building, walking briskly through the swarm of workers and into the open street. He yanked his tie loose, stuffing it into his pocket and following the crowd of busybodies. Bradley breathed in the fresh city air and felt the knot in his stomach unravel. He trekked a path to the park, a wide, open space where he could sit and watch the sky as he forgot his worries. People walked all around him, breathing in the same air and feeling the same sense of relief. A pair walked by, a tall man, with platinum blond hair and an aristocratic air, followed by a young girl with bushy, brown curls, holding his hand as they crossed the street.
“Come on ‘Mione, Mom will be mad if we’re late,” the man said, pulling the young girl, ‘Mione, along. She didn’t seem to be listening, but rather looking at the landscape. The siblings left his view and Bradley watched with a look of longing, remembering his bond with Miriam, trying to find any good memories. Shaking his head, he kept walking towards the water.
Sitting on a bench, Bradley breathed in a deep sigh of relief. He watched as a man, around forty or so, walked down to the edge of the lake. He looked rich, holding himself in a way that made him seem superior to the others. Frown lines wrinkled his face, matched with a seemingly permanent sneer and bitter expression. Isolated hung in a misty gray aura around him, a fog of frustration sheltering him from emotion. He walked tall and proud, but with a weight of sadness dragging along his broad shoulders, ripping stitches from the man’s Armani suit. Bradley focused on the shimmering lake, rippling in the silver-blue water and with a strong fragrance of sweet, salty air.
As the man walked away, a young boy came into view. He seemed like a little prince, laughing a giggle that exploded into the air like TNT. He ran through the park, holding his arms wide against the breeze, ruffling his blonde hair. A million bells rang through the area as the Little Prince smiled, showing pearly, white teeth. Bradley looked longingly at the happy child, realizing how long it had been since he felt joy and laughed with someone who made him feel carefree and made him lose all his worries. As a pebble dropped into the mirrored lake, it created thousands of ripples, spreading outward and distorting the water, but making it all the more beautiful. Suddenly, Bradley started to run home, thrashing against the crowds of people and sprinting to his estate.
Bradley threw open the door, dashing to Miriam’s room. He opened the mahogany door slowly, letting the creaky hinges squeak open. Miriam sat, curled in a blanket, on the couch, reading a book. She glared at him and raised an eyebrow. Bradley looked at her, taking in the glassy eyes, filled with unshed tears, the dark lashes, brimming heavy with a coming flood, the bottom lip that quivered with unspoken emotions, the lump in her throat, holding down the screams and sobs that wracked her chest. Bradley relished in the soft smile that Miriam gave him as he asked,”Wanna get ice cream?”
My allegory, Stop and Smell the Roses, tells a story of a young brother and sister pair who are forced together after a tragic accident. Bradley is a 23 year old man who is succeeding in his dreams and overworking himself for money. His younger sister, Miriam, 12, is forced into his life and pushed into exile as Bradley focuses on gaining an “important” business deal. After he gains the fame and fortune, he has a stress induced panic attack, leading to a rush outside and an observation of a rich, isolate “King” and a happy, carefree Little Prince. Realization strikes him and he rushes home, hoping it isn’t too late.
Stop and Smell the Roses is an allegory on not taking the actually important things for granted. In this story, Bradley symbolizes a man who only thinks about money and doesn’t realize that a bond with his sister is something priceless. The pair that walk by, ‘Mione and her brother, symbolize what Bradley wants with his sister or what he never had with Miriam. The rich man is what Bradley will become if he doesn’t change his ways, lonely and rich, but with no one to share it with because he separates himself from others to work. The Little Prince is what Bradley wants, to be happy and carefree, but still have his dreams; to have fun with friends and family while maintaining his career. The pebble falling into the lake, causing ripples, symbolizes Bradley’s change of mind because, even though the ripples distort the water, it is still beautiful, as a change of mind makes your mind all the more amazing.
Stop and Smell the Roses is an allegory because it has two levels of meaning. First, it has an overlying story, the characters, the plot, and the surface of the story. The second meaning is the deeper message, the symbolism with the metaphors, foreshadowing, similes, etc. It describes an abstract idea of not taking people and truly important figures for granted, because they may not be around forever. The idea can be interpreted in many ways, as people who have gone through different experiences have different mindsets. The story is multidimensional, causing the characters to stand for something much larger than their actual storyline