Reading & Writing

Writing Exercise: A Rose by Any Other Name


Do you know anyone named Rose? First name or last name. A dog, a cat–anyone? What about famous people–Charlie Rose, for example. Or Rosemary Clooney. Or someone who just reminds you of roses.

Well, I had a first grade teacher named Mrs. Rose. Come to think of it, I have no idea what her first name was. That makes me sad. But I do remember her quite vividly, and I’ve decided that she’s the inspiration for this week’s writing exercise. I’m going to write about her; you write about your Rose (real or imaginary).

As usual: five minutes. Go. (And remember to share yours in the comments!)


I imagine Mrs. Rose walking home, down the icy hills of our tiny town on a snowy day–perhaps someone holds her arm for her.

She was old, or did I think so simply because I was young?

I imagine her entering her home, lots of greens and browns, the air warm and slightly musky, edged with sachets of potpourri.

Homemade sachets. The kind you make with old stockings and a handful of dried flowers. Tucked into sock drawers, baskets, behind dusty books.

I imagine her making tea and sitting, creaky, in the dark.

I imagine her receiving a phone call on a pea-green telephone.

“Hello,” she says. She smiles. “Oh, fine. I’m just fine. It’s nice to talk to you.”

Who is calling? Does she have a son? A grown son, somewhere else. Her husband passed on years ago. Her son calls Tuesdays at four.

She sits with her tea and her telephone and looks out the window, where snow is now falling. Her son’s voice reminds her to turn on the light without his saying so, just that familiar sense that someone else is in the room. It isn’t yet dusk but the sky’s been cloudy all day, threatening the snow that has finally come.

“It’s a good thing I got home when I did,” she tells her son. “I might need help digging out in the morning.”

Because the school does not call snow days; that much I remember. The plow will come through and she might hitch a ride. Did she have a car? Where would she have parked it? She lived not more than a half a mile away.

She’ll walk in the morning, up the hill, perhaps with ice spikes on her feet, and she’ll enter the first grade classroom and turn on the lights, and breathe the smell of small children and paper. She’ll prepare the lesson and unlock the door, welcome in the small faces pink from the cold, most of them having walked here in the snow, because that’s the kind of town this is; half will have walked here alone.

She will smile to know kids still do this. She will smile because she loves her students, and her job, and her town. She will not live to see the houses torn down and replaced by condos, or the antique fire truck caged away from the children, or golf carts buzzing up and down the hills in the summertime. She gets to keep it this way: the old classroom in the snow, the children in their hats and scarves, the books piled up for story time.


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