Jimmy Main had a sister Ayls Main who was a year younger than her brother but equally curious.
Ayls had been home sick the day Jimmy had met with Mr Marsden, and a week later she was back walking to school with her brother.
The two of them would stop and admire Mr Marden’s garden, Ayls like to smell the flowers through the fence as she had been warned by her mother to never go into Mr Marsden’s yard.
On days when Mr Marsden was in his garden they would stop and say hello, and most days Mr Marsden would nod in recognition of them.
Ayls was much more talkative than Jimmy and one day mentioned to Mr Marsden that her teacher was returning to school after being ill and could she take her a flower from Mr Marsden’s garden?
Mr Marsden invited her in and asked her if she knew what sort of flower her teacher might like.
Ayls said roses, partly because she liked them and the roses in Mr Marsden’s garden were always spectacular.
Like the last time when Jimmy was there, Mr Marsden took them to the rear of his house where the container was stored.
Jimmy followed his sister and had a feeling he had been here before but couldn’t place where or when that might have been.
The entrance to the container was by now covered by a climbing rose which Mr Marsden had pruned and trained to grow around the doorway.
He disappeared into the container and re-emerged a moment or two later with a bunch of beautiful roses, just emerging from their budded state.
Ayls took in a deep breath as she surveyed the magnificent roses he was holding. Jimmy was also taken by the colours, so rich and deep and he too was fascinated.
It was then they both noticed something odd about the roses Mr Marsden was holding. They changed colour. Reds turned to purple, blues to green, pinks to orange and some were a combination of other blooms. Ayls immediately thought of the Christmas lights her Gran had hanging around her hallway arch which changed colour and were always a fascination to her.
The change was so subtle if you weren’t all that observant you might not notice. Ayls was speechless, her eyes focused on the colourful array in front of her.
“Mr Marsden,” she eventually uttered, “How?”
“Magic roses,” replied Mr Marsden, “impressive, aren’t they?”
“They are so beautiful; can I hold one?” asked Ayls.
“Pick one,” suggested Mr Marsden as Ayls leant forward and selected a brilliant dark red. “The blood red,” announced Mr Marsden, “one of my favourites, you’ve chosen well.”
Ayls stood with Jimmy admiring the rose, the colour of which was mesmerizing.
“Your teacher will like that one,” said Mr Marsden, “but I suspect you had both best be on your way as being late does mean an explanation.”
Jimmy remembered his day the week before when his lateness caused him some embarrassment trying to recall why he was late.
Mr Marsden wrapped the rose in some paper so Ayls could carry it and not have to worry about the thorns. Ayls noticed that the rose she chose remained the brilliant red she had chosen.
The two then proceeded to school, Ayls fascinated by her rose and sure her teacher would feel so much better knowing one of her students cared about her.
Arriving at school Jimmy went to find his mates and Ayls headed for her classroom to give her teacher the beautiful rose.
Her teacher was very appreciative, but when asked where she had gotten it Ayls couldn’t remember. To save herself she said her Gran grew roses and she’d taken it from there.
Like her brother’s earlier experience, she too thought there was more to the rose but couldn’t put her finger on it.
Part one of this story can be found here: https://summerstommy.com/2018/09/19/mr-marsden/