A Rose by Any Other Voice


“You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows that they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.” ― Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus

There are different types of stories. Some you share, some that transform themselves into other creative endeavors, some that are stillborn with no hope of resuscitation, and some that you hide from everyone, sometimes even yourself.

When I wore a younger man’s clothes, I wrote a story. One that I’ve never shared, one that will never transform itself into another work of art, one I have not read since its inception. But every so often when my mind settles into a rare resting mode and all my thoughts become inconsequential white noise, the story whispers to me so that I don’t forget it. It does what it needs to do in order to survive.

No, it’s not a true confession, nor is it based on or inspired by true events. There’s no deep-seated ideological conviction behind it. It’s also not the most powerful or hard-hitting thing I’ve ever written. Hell, the thing isn’t even written in my voice. Chiefly because it’s not my story.

The story belongs to someone else, told to me in part before she died.

Rose loved to tell stories to take her mind off her illness, so we’d meet occasionally when her health allowed or sometimes talk over the phone and she would spin her vignettes. She wasn’t a professional writer so the stories were uneven and structurally unsound, but they were enjoyable nonetheless. She was witty and articulate and sometimes, but not too often, a good telling trumps structure.

And she continued telling stories until the pain became too much to bear, but before Rose died she said to me, “Complete it,” and slow on the uptake as I can often be, I didn’t catch her meaning until months later.

It wasn’t an easy process. When I finally wrote the story down as close to verbatim as my past-its-sell-by-date memory could manage, I looked at the work and was confounded by what I could actually do with it. At first, I wanted to restructure and outline everything so that I could plot a logical ending, but that wouldn’t have been true to Rose’s storytelling style. A style I had become very protective of.

In the end, I decided this wasn’t a story that could be written, only transcribed, so I sat in front of a mirror with a digital recorder and recited the fragments Rose left me as a parting gift and traveled down a nonstructural road to see where it led me.

And I didn’t go it alone. I could feel Rose’s hand in mine, leading me down the path to the story’s final destination.

©2021 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

8 responses to “A Rose by Any Other Voice

  1. How long have you been the keeper of this story and do you think you’ll ever change your mind and complete it like your friend asked? Even if you don’t rewrite it have you considered sharing it here so that we could read it? I think you should and I hope you will. Great share!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s been over 20 years now. I’m not the same person as I was then. Hell, I’m not the same writer I was then. And what I mean by this is that I was more in tune with Rose’s voice, her cadence then than I am now, so if I attempted a rewrite today, it would be a much different story, without me even meaning to alter it.

      As for sharing it? I don’t know.

      I’ll have to let that thought simmer a while, but I thank you for your interest and input!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. IMO your friend wouldn’t have given you the story to finish if she didn’t want you to share it and hey, maybe you weren’t ready to write it back then and maybe you still aren’t ready now but you should never say never because you may be ready someday. Don’t force it. When the time is right, you will know.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I happen to be a firm believer that every story has a time to be told, to be written, and to be read. And I know full well Rose wanted me to write and share it, but at the time I wasn’t in the shape mentally and emotionally to do it.

      Although time has lessened the intensity of her passing, whenever I read the story I am transported back to that time and it still hurts being in that moment.

      I may need to mature a bit more before embarking on this endeavor, and my maturity rate is so slow that I only hope I live long enough to get to that point.

      Thanks for sharing your opinion!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Now this is quite a revelation. Rose had something more in mind than just the completion of her story. I feel this may be an enlightening moment for you. It’s never easy to complete another’s story. The intention and reason are better known to the conceiver. Though I do know that many times I have no idea why I’m writing something till it’s done and over. Now that could be because I write as I am and feel at the moment.
    You will too. And Rose should get an ending that proves worthy of her trust in you. No one hands over anything incomplete till they’re sure that its conclusion is in good hands. Good luck to you. You’re the chosen one. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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