A Rose By Any Other Name

Sheila Preisler and Seth Chambers

© Copyright 2003 by Sheila Preisler and Seth Chambers


Photo of an old house overgrown with vines.
There she stood, wide-eyed holding the only bag she owned and a stuffed toy monkey. As she began to make her way up the long walk way, her eyes were captured by the roses that laid on both sides of the path. They were nothing like she had seen before. As she looked up, she realized how close she was to the front door of the stone house.

Vines clutched the house like the claws of a wild cat. Her body began to shake with fear as she approached the door. There stood a tall man in his late forties wearing a button up sweater and tan dress pants. He held a in one hand. In a deep tone, the man said, "So little girl, what's your name?"

After a long pause, he went on, "My name is Mr. Woodfield, and your name is..?"

When still nothing came out of her, he said, "That's ok. Lets get you inside and clean you up. And get some warm soup in you. Then we will find out your name."

She made it into the big house and her eyes began to wander around the room. The floor was made of stone, just like the outside, she thought to herself, as her feet touch the cold floor. "Come along now, we don't have all day," said Mr. Woodfield, dragging her across the room. Out of the blue, stood a little old lady.

"What in the world are you doing, Woody, to that little girl?" demanded the old woman.

After a long pause, Mr. Woodfield replied in a childlike voice, "I was just trying to get a word out of her."

The little old lady said to the little girl, "Don't pay him any mind. He is a big bully, I am Mrs. Woodfield and I run things around here. Now, no need for your name. When you are ready, you will tell us. No means of making a big fuss over nothing. Just call me Aunty Wood and we will get along just fine."

At that very second the little girl gave a smile and said, "Hi Aunty Wood."

"It's about time," said Woody Woodfield.

"Go about your way old man. Us girls have some things to do without you hanging around like an old shoe."

Off went Mr. Woody Woodfield.

"Now lets get you some warm food and a hot bath, for starters," said Aunty Wood.

Fear still shone in the little girl's eyes and her body was cold as ice.

"Change of plans, lets get you in the hot bath to warm you up, child, before you catch a cold on Aunty Wood."

The girl's sea blue eyes were captured by the long dark hallway. There was just enough light to see by as she began to make it to the end of the hallway. There stood a monkey. Startled, the girl jumped back and started running back the other way. Aunty Wood grabbed her hand and softly said, "If it isn't one thing or another, we are never going to get you fed and cleaned."

The little girl turned back around, feeling safe enough with Aunty Wood holding her hand. "That's just Isabel," the woman said, as the monkey ran down the hallway and up the stairs. "We have had her for about three years. She just was a baby when we found her at our door step," said Aunty Wood.

They went off to the bath. The room was huge for a bathroom, thought the little girl. There in the middle of the room was an old fashioned bathtub. There were two windows. She couldn't help but notice the bars on the windows as she got closer to the tub.

As she got undressed and sunk herself into the tub, the hot water felt so good after being so cold. Aunty Wood added a little special homemade soap that filled the tub with bubbles. The little girl thought that was neat. She found herself so relaxed that she drifted off into one of her day dreams, which se often did when things go rough.

"It's time to get out now," Aunty Wood said in a soft tone, hoping not to upset the little girl. After all she had been through a lot in one day and she looked so relaxed. "It's ok."

"I am ready to get out now," said the little girl.

Then while getting dressed, she said, "Rose is my name."

"That's a very nice name," said Aunty Wood, not knowing the little girl had made it up. When she was day dreaming in the tub she remembered how wonderful she felt when she saw the roses up the walk way to the stone house. Besides, she was beginning to like Aunty Wood and she didn't want her to know that she didn't know much about who she was. Aunty Wood put her in the only dress she could find in her bag.

"You don't have many things, Rose, my dear."

Rose held her head down in shame, trying to hide back the pain in her eyes.

"How about I show you to your room now, while your meal is being prepared."

Aunty Wood gently took a hold of Rose's face and said, "I have boxes of clothes that I kept in case they were needed. I bet they will fit you to a tee."

Rose gave Aunty Wood another of her smiles and said, "Oh thank you, Aunty Wood."

"It's no big deal, child. I told you we are going to get along just fine."

They went off to her room.

They made it up to the long stairway that led to her room. Her eyes were taken aback by the wood stairs, but it was the rug that tantalized her. As she began to walk up the stairs she could see the rug, it was made of roses. They looked so real to her that she reached down to touch the rug just to make sure that they were not real.

"Like the rug?" said Aunty Wood. "My great grandmother hand made the prints of rose's you see on the rug by her bare hands. She didn't want anyone to have to walk up the long stairway when it became cold. "So you see, Rose, this is a very old house, they don't quite make them like this anymore. Time is changing so much child."

"She is only a little girl, what does she know about change?" said a voice coming from the top of the stairs. Rose looked up and beheld a tall, thin lady in a plain blue dress and hair pulled back very neat. She was holding a try of food.

"You have just met Marge, she is our cook around here," said Aunty Wood. "She is not used to children, so pay no mind to her. She will come around in time. She is set in her old ways."

By now Rose was felling at ease with Aunty Wood by her side.

"Come in, child," said Marge. "And eat your food before it gets cold." Then Marge took off down the hallway. After Rose got settled in her bed, Aunty Wood said, "Why don't I let you eat your food; in the meantime I will go get the boxes of clothes. I will leave the door open for now. I won't be long."

Rose could only think about the food on the tray. Home made soup of some sort. It smelled so good, and fruit of every kind covered the tray. She ate everything on the tray. Aunty Wood wasn't back yet, so she lay on the bed curled up. She began to day dream and soon after she was off into a deep sleep.

She was awakened by a bright light. She pulled herself up enough to see that the light was coming from the long hallway that lead to another stairway. It was as if she had already been there. She found herself touched by the light. Then there was the monkey she had seen earlier. By shutting her eyes the monkey would go away. She thought, after all it could be one of her daydreams, which she was good at, drifting off into another world.

"Rose, Rose, it's Aunty Wood. Are you ok child?"

Rose jumped up and softly said, "Oh Aunty Wood. I saw Isabella the monkey. She was staring at me and at first I thought I was just dreaming. I do a lot of that you know."

"No, I didn't," said Aunty Wood. "But it is ok to dream, my child. It was probably Isabella. She does that when she takes a liking to someone. She didn't mean any harm of it."

"Where were you?" said Rose.

"Oh child, you were sound to sleep so I covered you up and let you get some rest. Now it is morning so I brought you some of Marge's homemade oatmeal and some orange juice."

"Thanks," said Rose as she sat up to eat.

"While you are eating, I thought I would go through the boxes of clothes I brought up last night. After you're done with your food, we can try some things on if you would like."

"Sure I would like that," said Rose.

"Then after you pick out what you like we will send them down to get washed. Then I thought maybe you would like a tour of the rest of the house."

"I would really like that."

"I thought you would like that," said Aunty Wood. "So lets get started."

Rose tried on everything in the boxes.

"So what do you like, Rose? They all seem to fit you and I have to say you look so cute in all of the clothes."

"I like them all. Can I keep them all Aunty Wood. Please." said Rose with that look in her eyes.

With a big smile on Aunty Wood's face you could see how taken in by the little girl she was. After a few minutes she said, "Okay, Okay, you can keep them all, my dear child."

Rose came over to Aunty Wood and gave her the biggest hug you could get from a little girl like Rose.

"Let's get these things sent down to be cleaned."

"Are we ready for our tour around the house?" said Mr. Woodfield.

"If Rose is ready," said Aunty Wood.

Rose didn't mind if Mr. Woody Woodfield came along. She grabbed Aunty Wood's hand.

"Let's get going!" said Rose, which gave Mr. Woodfield a laugh.

They started on their tour of the house. You could feel Rose's body heat along with the light in her eyes. "This is our kitchen," said Aunty Wood. "No one is allowed in here without Marge's ok."

"That is right," said Marge. "But Rose can come in here anytime she would like."

Rose's eyes got real big.

"I told you, Rose, Marge would come around. And you have only been here a few days now. She must like you."

Marge gave a slight smile to Aunty Wood and said, "It is nice to have a little girl to teach to cook so I don't have to do all the work around here."

They all just looked at Marge, laughed, and walked into the next room.

They got to the last room. And it was the window That Rose saw the light coming from. Rose got all clammed up and said, "What's that?"

"That, my dear, is a rare place. There are stairs that lead you to a far away vision, of your path."

She looked up at Aunty Wood, not understanding a word that was said.


Several more days passed. Isabella became less shy of Rose and Rose started to get used to the monkey as well. Sometimes she would even wake during the night to find the monkey curled by her side. Other nights Rose would wake up and step out to the hallway where she would stare up at the stairway that Aunty Wood had spoken so mysteriously about.

One night Rose took two steps up, only to be startled a moment later when Isabella jumped out at her from the dark. Rose ran back to her room while Isabella dashed about the hallway chattering loud enough to rouse Aunty Wood from her room to see what the fuss was about.

It was three days later when Rose steeled herself to approach the stairs again. The eerie light at the top both drew her up and scared her away at the same time. Isabella came up behind her but this time didn't startle her. Rose reached down and scratched the monkey's head, then headed up the stairs.

Isabella stayed at the bottom of the stairs while Rose went up. The light was coming from around a door at the top. Rose put one hand on the doorknob and stayed that way for along time before finally opening the door.

A soft glow flooded from the room. Rose took a step back and almost fell backwards down the stairs. She heard Isabella let out a cry and dash away. She stared into the light. It was the moon that shone so brightly through a single window. There were bars over the window, as there were over the windows in the bathroom. Rose stepped inside the attic for a closer look.

Old furniture, covered with sheets, had been stored up there, along with old steamer trunks and boxes. But what Rose found herself drawn to was an antique mirror that stood near the center of the room. She approached it and felt her hair start to stand on end.

She looked in the mirror but no reflection looked back at her. Instead, the mirror seemed to be filled with mist and she thought something was moving about in the mist. Shaking, she moved closer to the mirror and could hear soft voices coming from inside the mist, as if from far away.

"Hello?" she whispered.

A cloud drifted in front of the moon and the room darkened. A moment later a breeze blew in and the door slammed shut. Rose let out a scream and ran to the door. For one terrible second she was sure that it would be locked and she'd be trapped up here, but the door opened easily and she ran on downstairs and back to bed, where she hid under the covers the rest of the night.

She awoke in the morning with Isabella curled up on her feet.

It was another week before Rose ventured back up the stairs to the attic and the strange mirror. During that week, she had some long talks with Aunty Wood and even a couple talks with Woody. They had both asked about her past and Rose responded by making up stories. She thought about asking Aunty Wood about the mirror in the attic but could not bring herself to. When she went back to the mirror the next time, the moon was full and the attic full of light. The mist in the mirror swirled and figures danced about within it. The voices in the mirror seemed positively excited. Rose felt less afraid and stood close to the mirror this time.

She looked into the mist.

Somebody in the mist waved back at her!


From the bottom of the stairs, Isabella looked up at the attic door. Her forehead wrinkled and she bared her teeth. Tentatively, she crept up the first two stairs, paused there and cocked one ear toward the door. She chattered for a moment, as if talking to herself, then bounded up the next few stairs. She paused on the stair, then grabbed the railing and gave it a yank.

She dashed down two stairs, paused, then shot up to the top of the stairs. With a sudden shriek, she rattled the doorknob to the attic then dashed back to the middle of the stairs. She gave another shriek, louder this time. After the echo of her shriek died away, the house seemed unnaturally silent. As if to fill the silence, Isabella abounded down the hallway chattering and shrieking. She could hear the voice of The Woman come from one of the rooms.

Isabella paced about in circles for a moment, then made a mad dash back along the hallway and up to the top of the stairs, her tail flashing about like a whip. Again, she grabbed the handrail and this time nearly wrenched it from the wall. A horrid, howling wail erupted from her then as she continued to yank on the railing.

A door opened in the hallway and The Woman came rushing out. Isabella bounded down to her, still howling, and almost knocked The Woman down. The Man came out and the two of them spoke to each other and to her.

"What the hell..."


"I think she's trying to tell us...."

"Out of my way, old man! Rose! Rose!"

The Woman opened The Girl's room and called out: "Rose!" Then, to The Man: "She's not in her room."

Isabella stopped her howling and dashed to the middle of the stairs, where she turned to make sure The Woman and The Man were following. They were.

Isabella bounded to the top of the stairs. It seemed to take The Man and The Woman a long time to catch up to her, but they finally did. The Woman turned the doorknob and pushed the door open.

The moon shone in the attic like a spotlight.

"Look! Look at the mirror!" said the woman. "It's covered with roses!"

Isabella, though she didn't understand The Woman's words, looked at the mirror and dashed out of the attic and didn't stop until she was in the basement.

Meanwhile, the woman stood there staring at the roses on the mirror. The more she stood there the more the roses became real as they danced about on the mirror.

"Come on, old woman," said the man. "We have to find Rose before it gets dark. And you know what happens when it gets dark. Isabella will never let us get any peace or any sleep."

"You're right," said the woman, still watching the roses dance about.

They turned to leave the attic bout found the door to be locked.

"Oh, that's just great," said the old man. "We will never get out of here in time."

The old man went on complaining until the woman interrupted harshly, "Get over it, old man, we have another way out of here, or are you getting so old you forgot? Do I have to think for you?"

"You're right," said the old man. "What was I thinking?"

"Okay, let's get going," the woman said, still captured by the mirror covered with the roses that danced about.

As they approached the next doorway, which was slightly ajar, with just enough light to see by, a voice came over the room: "Help, Help."

"Is that you?" asked the woman.

A long silence came over the room.

"It's me, Aunty Wood," said the voice. "Get me out of here."

Trying not to act scared, the woman called out, "Where are you, Rose?" Isabella is worried about you. We are hear to find you. We got worried when you weren't in your room.

"I'm right here. Can't you see me?"

"Where, my child? I can't see you, but keep talking and maybe I can feel where you are."

"What do you want me to say?"

"Tell me what it looks like where you are. What are you feeling?"

"Okay, I'll try."

The woman turned to talk to the old man but he was gone. The woman could hear Rose talking but her mind was suddenly too frozen with fear for her to comprehend. The roses kept dancing, then they came off the mirror and swirled around the woman. Then she saw Rose in the mirror.

"Okay, I see you, Rose," She said, her voice shaking. "Keep talking."

"I am stuck in this black mist," the girl said. "And there are roses dancing all over, it's like something you'd see in a fairy tale. And I can see myself as an older girl! She, I mean this older girls who's really me, is running and running, but I don't know where to."

As the woman approached the mirror, one of the roses jumped out at her and then a deep, rumbling voice said, "HERE, ALL ROSE HAS TO DO IS TAKE ONE OF THE ROSES! TAKE ONE AND GIVE IT TO HER! IT WILL TAKE HER CLOSER TO WHERE SHE HAS TO GO. BUT BEWARE! SHE MUST TAKE THE ROSE YOU HAND HER! SHE MUST!"

"She must, or what?" the woman asked, but the Voice said no more.

Then this dark mist came over the room and there Rose stood before the woman.

"What's going on, Aunty Wood?"

"Listen to me, Rose, my dear. Hold your hands straight out and look right at me. I'm going to hand you a rose and you must take it."

"But why?"

"In order for you to get where you have to go, you must take the rose I hand you."

"Where do I need to go?" cried the girl.

"That I don't know, Rose. But take the rose!"

She felt her hand drawn to a rose and she picked it up. She handed the rose to the girl. The girl's hand reached out through the mist and took the rose. Their fingers touched, then the girl's hand disappeared back into the mist.

"Oh, look!" cried the girl. "It's...It's... Oh no!"

"Rose! Where'd you go?"

The girl's voice went far away. The woman walked toward where she had been but only ran into the mirror. A moment later the attic door opened behind her. The woman turned and snapped, "Where have you been, old fool?"

But it was Isabella, not the old man, who came through the door.

The monkey chattered at her frantically. Rose's voice was still coming from far away. "Where are you?" the woman called out.

There were other voices in the mist as well. Isabella jumped up into the woman's arms and chattered at her. "I know, I know, Isabella." she cooed at the monkey. "I'm worried about her too, but she'll be okay. I hope..."

The mist swirled about the old woman and the roses danced all about her and Isabella chattered. From far away came many voices, one of them Rose's.

"What's going on?" the woman cried out.

A door opened then and the old man came stumbling into the attic asking the same thing. The woman snapped at him that she didn't know what was going on and for him to be quiet.

After a long time, how much time the woman could not say, the mist began to dissipate and the roses stopped their mad dancing about. Isabella began to calm down and light once again began to fill the attic.

The moon shone in through the window and Rose stepped out of the mirror. Isabella jumped out of the woman's arms and chattered at Rose. The girl cried, "Oh, that was... That was..."

And then she fell into the old woman's arms.


The woman sat by Rose's bed for many hours before the girl finally awoke. When she finally did, the woman whispered, "Rose? Are you ok? Tell me what happened?"

The girl's eyes fluttered and she moved a pillow against the headboard so she could sit up. "Aunty Wood, it was the most beautiful place." she whispered.

"I know, child."

"I saw so much! I saw myself years and years from now! And I saw my mother!"

"But I thought you were an orphan!"

"I am, but I saw her! From before I was an orphan. And my name, it's not really Rose, it's..."

"Hush, child. You don't need to tell me."

"I saw my future, Aunty Wood! I saw the way it could be, and all the ways it would be! And I.... I chose the way I wanted for it to be!"

Marge came in then, all smiles, with a big, steaming hot plate of pot roast with potatoes and chocolate ice cream.

"Oh, thank you, Marge!" the girl cried out.

Marge told her she was welcome and slipped from the room.

Isabella came in through the door as Marge was leaving. She jumped up on the bed and curled up on Rose's feet. Rose dipped a spoon into the ice cream and offered it to the monkey. The monkey took a taste then ran off, chattering away. Rose and Aunty Wood laughed.

"She was there, in my future. Isabella, I mean. And she didn't like ice cream then, either."

Rose finished eating and closed her eyes.

Aunty Wood kissed her forehead as the girl drifted off into a deep dreamless sleep. "Sweet dreams, my dear," she whispered.

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