Thursday 25 January 2024

How to Steal a Rose By Peter Lingard, sugared rosewater

Teevee news said it was thirty-nine degrees with eighty-three per-cent humidity. Janet and I complained to the landlord about the heat, but he said there was nothing he could do, which we had to admit was true. But we were still uncomfortable. He was around the same age as us, using renters to finance the purchase of the house. There was no air conditioning, but he did go to a store and buy a fan. The fridge didn’t have much life left, refusing to make ice cubes to add to the warm water that came from the taps. We could get two glasses each out of the water jug we kept in the fridge and then it was neat faucet until a new lot cooled. We worsened the situation by continually opening the fridge to see if the jug of water had cooled enough. We watered the single rose I’d given Janet with the stuff from the faucet, but it still drooped.


I had picked the rose in the park, where I’d waited until no-one was in the vicinity before snapping its stem in half. The flower wanted to remain attached so snapping may be the wrong word.

A young boy I had missed in my scan of the area said, ‘You’re not supposed to do that.’

‘You’re right.’ He stared at me, as if awaiting a reason for my vandalism. ‘Tomorrow’s my girlfriend’s birthday,’ I lied, ‘and I don’t have money to buy her a bunch.’

His eyes widened. ‘It’s my mum’s birthday next week. Will it be all right if I get her a bunch of roses from here?’

His innocence guilted me. Would I have gathered a bunch, had he not appeared? Nah. It was my intention to steal the one bloom to slightly brighten the gloom of our living space. ‘You’ll need to bring sharp scissors, or secateurs … do you know what secateurs are?’ The boy nodded. ‘Pick a rainy day, if possible, less people around, and don’t take too many. Six is a nice number. Your mum will appreciate six roses from you.’ He looked happy at the thought of giving his mother the flowers. ‘Don’t tell anybody or you might find all the roses gone by the time you come to gather your bunch. Understand?’

He nodded again but he looked so full of happiness, I wondered if he’d heard what I told him.


Shane, another tenant, brought pizzas for dinner. We checked our phones and played music until cricket came on the box. The fridge died with a shudder and Janet’s Manchester United magnet fell to the bare wooden floor with a clunk. The beer we rescued from the fridge was warm, but we still drank it. Cheater Smith suffered a golden duck and we jeered as he walked back to the pavilion.

Janet went to the mall where she said she’d be cooler.

‘If you see a teevee in the mall showing the cricket which we can watch without needing to buy anything, give us a call,’ I said.


About the author 


Peter Lingard, born a Brit, laboured in a large dairy, served in the Royal Marines, was an accountant, a barman and a farm worker. He once lived in the US where he owned a freight forwarding business. An Aussie because the sun frequently shines and the natives communicate in English. 

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