Chapter 1: A Rose in Bloom
Winter was coming to an end and I couldn't wait. The city seemed to much danker and colder in winter. It made that scarce plant life almost unbearable by my standards but what could be done. My mother had made the decision to move the city of Dakota after father died from some strange disease that neither of us had understood when the doctor told us of it. All I knew was that I now felt far more alone in the world then I usually did.
We had been here for two years and I was still an outcast in this place. I had few friends and the ones I did have well, let's just say they weren't much for talking, or even moving that much. You could even say they were rooted to the spot.
Ok so I'm not much for jokes or witty banter sue me!
In all truth my best friends since I was a child had always been plants and flowers. It was discovered when I was only 10 that I had a gift for the green as my dad once called it. He had said that is mother had been the same way though after that he never spoke another word about her. When I got into high school here in Dakota I became the top in my biology class particularly in the subject of botany. I aced every test in almost every subject from English, to history. However I excelled at math, biology, and science. Truthfully the only class I had a low grade in was PE.
I fucking hate PE. It had no real purpose unless you were fat and even then it was a load of bullshit.
Needless to say my high academic standings didn't make too popular with most of my class mates nor did my features. I was very pale and covered from head to toe in freckles. My hair was a pale dark red same color as a withering rose. My eyes had the same lifeless dull color as pea soup, a dim pale grayish green. Everything about me was dull and my gawky appearance and large glasses didn't help the matter at all.
So I was picked on from first to final bell, from home room to 8th period never ending. I had been thrown and locked in so many lockers that I could tell just how the break out of one using only a pen and some chewing gum.
Now when I said I only had a few friends I laid. Because of my love for plants mother h ad a huge greenhouse reconstructed in the back of our rather large house well technically it was an estate that had been left to father and was now ours. It was called the Isley manor and when mother saw the crumbling greenhouse that took most of the back of the house she knew instantly what to get me for my 17th birthday.
To make me as happy as she could she bought every type of plant and flower she could, even going as far as to send for seeds and small saplings from tropic islands and countries and let me tell you under my care they flourished like wild.
Walking into my greenhouse was like walking into a forgotten jungle or rainforest. Thanks to my talents for science I was more then able to manipulate my plants genes so they would grow large, fuller and in far more vibrant and varying colors. Now I wasn't adding growth hormones or anything I simply did whatever I could to restore plants to the days when they ruled untouched and unhampered by human hands. All the time I spent in the green house was the reason I was pale and dull.
I loved my plants like a mother loves her child and all I knew of life I learned watching them. They were my true friends and only companions. Yes I was a bit obsessed but hey I was an only child whose father had died. I had no social life and no human friends. There were worst things I could be.
The final bell of the day rang and I rushed out of the class. As I was walking, I couldn't stop thinking of the new plant mom had said she purchased for me. She said that man who sold it to her said it was called the Viper rose, the rarest rose in the world that only bloomed once every four hundred years. I couldn't wait to get home and start to help the little thing get stronger and bigger and figure out just why it only bloomed every four hundred years. As I was walking down the hall caught up completely in my thoughts of the rose I bumped into someone. I fell backwards and hit the ground hard.
"Wtf, watch were the fuck your going fool." Said a deep voice.
I looked up to find wade looking down at me. Oh shit, Wade was one of the most notorious thugs in the school and you didn't want to get on his bad side, which is just where I had stumbled into.
He grabbed me by the front of my shirt and lifted me off the ground till I was dangling in the air.
"I should kick yo ass you little ginger punk." He threatened and I prepared for the fist to start flying.
"Yo Wade put him down man. It was just a mistake." I heard someone say.
"He's new, he don't know any better dude." Said another voice.
I opened my eyes a fraction and saw Wade looking at the boy who had put his hand on his shoulder. He was tall and rather lanky in his baggy orange sweat shirt and jean, his heavy dreads hanging over his dark eyes as they stuck like the legs of a large spider all over his head. He was rather handsome. Next to him stood a cute white boy with short blond hair and glasses. He wore a green hoodie with an organ stripe across the middle and tan kakis. Wade looked at me then let me drop as some girl ran over and started helping me pick up my papers and books.
"You better keep an eye on your friend here Virg. Me might get hurt, you know ain't everyone as forgiving as me."
The boy with the dreads nodded then he and his friend got on the floor and started handing my books.
"Are you ok Ivan?" Asked Virgil as he zipped up my backpack and handed it to me. I nodded nervously as he and his two friends fussed over me. I was used to all this human contact with anyone other than my mother.
"So you're Ivan Isley," said the pretty Spanish girl who had been with Virgil and Richie
"I did a report on your bioluminescent snapdragons about a month ago." She said
"My name is Frieda."
I nodded unable to forget the pushy reporter who had wanted as many details as possible.
"I'm sure you already know Virgil and Richie seeing as how you have almost half your classes with them."
Virgil and Richie smiled as we walked along the hall towards the school entrance.
"Yo man we should really hang." Said Virgil.
"Yeah dude, we could use the extra help in classes." Said Richie.
Frieda elbowed him in the ribs.
"What! It's not like I'm saying that is the only reason we want to hangout with him. He's cool."
I snickered to myself as Virgil wrapped his arm around my shoulder and hugged me.
"Ignore Richard over there; his brain doesn't work as fast as he thinks." He said with a smile.
"That is Richie to you and my brain works just find thank you." Said Richie.
Frieda slapped herself on the forehead and rolled her eyes.
"So how about it Ivan. Want to chill out with us today." She asked.
I couldn't have said no for the life of me. I had such a huge crush on Virgil and Richie since the day they came walking into class an hour late as I was giving a report.
So here I was dashing to and fro about my house, trying to make everything perfect as my mother got ready to leave for work.
"I'm so excited you're having company over. I wish I could stay, oh! but that wouldn't be very cool would it." She said with a smile as she grabbed her trench coat and headed for the door. My mother was a professional ballet dancer and model and was constantly dashing off for one show or another. This evening she had a charity event to attend to for breast cancer awareness.
"I made a little something for dinner and there are snacks and thing in case your friends and you are still hungry." She said kissing my cheek then heading for the door.
"I should be back in the morning and if not I will defiantly be here when you get home from school. Goodnight dear." She said and then she was gone.
Have I mentioned how much I loved my mother? She's beautiful, smart, caring and all around perfect without even trying. She was gone quite often but I never felt alone or left behind. She would cook meals in advance for however long her trips took so I always had a semi-home cooked meal. She would video chat with me on my laptop before and after every show and she would always drop any and everything for me should I ask. which I rarely did.
I heard the doorbell ring and put down the pillow I had been fluffing out of nervousness. "Coming" I called as I walked into the foyer to open the door.
Frieda walked in followed closely by Virgil and Richie who both looked rather taken aback. I heard Richie give a whistle as he looked around.
"God man what do your parents do?"
I smiled leading them to the living room.
"Well my dad was a scientist and my mom is a dancer and model."
"Jazzmen Reynard Isley. She is one of the most beautiful models I have ever seen. I have her posters all over my room." fawned Friedia
I blushed as we all took a set. Myself and Frieda on the loveseat, Virgil on the couch and Richie on the floor by my leg.
"What did you mean by 'was' when you talked about your dad?" Asked Virgil.
I hung my head and fell silent.
"He died when I was in Jr. High back in Gotham. Mother was away and I was at school when my nanny came in and told me the news." I blinked rapidly trying to fight back tears.
"He had been very sick for months and well…" I stood up and walked over to the picture of my father over the mantelpiece. That only visual memory of him, eternally smiling, eternally happy and yet forever gone.
"Know how you feel. My mom died when I was young" said Virgil. I felt him behind me and without thinking I turned into his arms and began to cry.
How long did I cling to him weeping like a child lost in the dark? But that was just what we were. Both of us lost in the darkness of loss. I had found a friend other then my plants and I was crying all over him.
I pulled back sniffling and turned away in shame.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to do that."
Virgil just smiled and shook his head. He hugged me with one arm and led me back to the couch.
"Not to break this wonderful awkward situation but I smelt food the moment I walked in and it's driving me insane." Said Richie to which Frieda smacked in the head.
"Oh sure. Let's go." I said leading them all into the kitchen.
"Wow!" cried Richie.
I could understand his surprise. My mother must have gotten a bit carried away in her excitement of me having friends over. There were over a dozen cookies on a towering platter rack, a huge jug of fruit juice surrounded by four cups of varying color. On the stove was a platter of nachos and salsa, as well many other munchies and goodies. My mother could have given the witch from Hansel and Gretel a run for her money.
"Yeah, my mom got excited when I said I was going to be having friends over," I said gesturing to all the food.
There was a green blur to my right and Richie was already loading up his green plate with as much as possible. Virgil was next to him in seconds eating just as much as Frieda and I stood and watched.
"They're such pigs I swear." She said with a smile.
"Then perhaps we should get up there before it's all gone." I chuckled.
We looked at each other then ran up to claim our meal.
This was actually fun. We talked and laughed and joked. I helped Richie with his homework and told him I would tutor him anytime he wanted. Virgil and Frieda made us watch sex in the city- well Frieda made us watch it, Virgil just thought it best to play along.
When it was time for them to go home we agreed to meet up again and soon and as I closed to door after hugging each of my friends I close the door with a smile on my face. The first one I had worn in a long while.
I watched from the window in my room upstairs as the trio made their way down the sloping lawn and out the gate. I ran down the stairs, out the back door, and into my greenhouse wearing the biggest smile in my life. I looked around at all my beautiful flowers and plants. The most beautiful and exotic flora in the entire world and under my care they grew even more lavish and magnificent. I had a gift for all plants and they seemed to love me just as much as I loved them. It was strange, ever since I was a child I could have sworn I could hear my plants whispering things to me. I would cry myself into exhaustion when I saw wilted flowers. The green as Papa had always called it loved me and I loved it. I turned on the sprinkler system along the long troughs of earth and soil where my plants bloomed and walked among the green and rainbow foliage till I reached a large bell jar housing my baby.
I had always loved roses and once while trying to cross breed a new type of rose I ended up added two different plants into the seeding. The first was purple tiger lily my mom had found while in the Caribbean growing on a small rocky shore known as Kovu's garden. The other was a toxic combination of deadly nightshade and poison ivy. At first, I feared that combine all this would produce nothing but then after months of careful monitoring it I got my wish. My dear Belle as I called her was the most extraordinary thing I had ever created. Her basic delight was like that of a rose save that she was larger in size and sprouted from a low bush ripe with dark red and pink barriers. Its thorns were larger than most, the leaves were large and like those of a poison ivy bush turned a beautiful scarlet/ pink at the tips. The flower its self was huge with the petals of a lily arranged in the overlapping and curling pattern of a rose.
"Belle, you'll never guess what happened. I had friends over." I said pulling up a chair and looking up at her. I looked around her table till I found the switch I was looking for and turned on the misting tube I had running through the bell jar. I had made my mother the promise that I would personally water Belle for the simple fact that her genetic combination made her quite deadly. I wonder what she would say if she truly knew just how many toxins and poisons I worked with when in my greenhouse. But, I respected her wish and didn't touch my poison plants when she was away which thankfully that wasn't often.
I spent the entire night in the greenhouse and just as the sun was rising made my way to bed.
For the next several weeks I grew closer with Richie, Virgil, and Frieda as well as another girl named Daisy. I was so happy to have friends and be a part of something.