The Siren

By

Eric Chen

The siren blares as a firetruck turns and rushes down the street, growing more distant with each passing second. “And there it goes, yet another bout of insufferable shrieking from the firetruck,” Red Rose complains. “Just like every other day. It’s unbearable!” Her leaves flail as a gust of wind strikes her. “I wish there weren’t a fire every five minutes so those firetrucks would cease their incessant wailing!” A small bird perches onto one of Red Rose’s thorn-covered stems. “Maybe then I’ll finally be able to live in peace!” Having been poked by a thorn during Red Rose’s fit of fury, the bird takes off.
Considering Red Rose’s fantasy, I address her exaggeration. “Are you sure the firetrucks are that active? I only hear them once or twice a day; less than a minute each time, too!”
“Even if they don’t come out that often, it’s extremely painful when they do!”
“Red Rose, I think you should focus on all the wonderful things in your life instead of the things that annoy you.”
“How could I even manage to do that? It’s impossible to peacefully rest in my bed without a deafening motorcycle passing by and shattering the silence!”
“There are a lot of pleasant things that can make you feel better after the vehicles go by. Let’s take a moment to appreciate the environment around us. The cool breeze and the warm sunlight make for a lovely day, don’t you think?”
“The weather here is terrible. One moment there’s a drought, the next there’s a flood, and a day later I’m being blown by absurdly powerful gusts of wind that came out of nowhere!”
“That may be true, but let’s truly experience our surroundings in the here and the now. Isn’t the soil nice and nutrient-rich? Aren’t the birds’ chirps pleasant to listen to? Don’t you just love the view of the beautiful setting sun?
“All I know is that being planted here was a mistake! I should’ve been planted in one of those extravagant gardens owned by royals where the plants live with the best treatment and environment known to plant-kind!”
“I understand that you want to live in a fancy home, but it’s not as amazing as you think it is. I once heard about Pink Rose’s experience living in a palace garden. The weather never changed and the flowers were constantly trimmed. There were never any birds, either. You’d find a whole different set of problems there.”
“But there aren’t any loud cars near those gardens!”
“You’ll always be able to complain about things no matter what lifestyle you lead. However, you can decide how you react to them. If you shift your focus from the noisy firetrucks and seemingly heavenly gardens to what we have in the present moment, you’ll find that your suffering will disappear.”
“You’re right. I can’t do anything to stop the noise, but I can accept that it’s there and choose to be at peace with it. I understand now. Thank you, White Rose.”
“Of course. Wanna watch the sunset with me?”
“That would be lovely.”
The siren wails as a firetruck turns and heads down the street, growing more distant with each passing second. Its pitch decreases as it drives further away from the fire station until it is no longer audible. Peace returns to the evening. The plants’ leaves rustle as a gentle breeze passes by. As the sun gradually sets below the horizon, the heavens are painted with several fiery shades of red and orange. A small bird perches onto one of Red Rose’s buds. There is nothing but the sound of leaves rustling in the cool winds. Having been content with the serenity of the environment, the bird sings a song.