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Glorious rainbow prisms of light stream into the multi-windowed solarium. The crisp morning air could not faze the sunny, golden yellow room. Inside stands Gracie, a young innocent lady with fiery red curls and wide gray puppy eyes, which admired a peculiar vase which had just arrived. Its glass surface sparkles as millions of little diamonds shine brightly, blinding the eyes of anyone who stared at its beauty. Carved on the surface of the translucent glass are triangles, swirls, dots, and lines forming one beautiful design. She traces her fingers down the side of the vase into the deep crevices and rising over bumps and ridges, delighting her fingers. Her hands cup the sides of the vase as she twirls the heavy vase in circles, creating magnificent rainbow rays of light dancing around the room, enlightening each object.
Sprouting from the vase, stand twelve magnificent roses with such enthusiasm and purpose. Their pompous red heads float up to the sky, aware of their beauty. Replenishing water shoots up through their diagonally cut ends like a back brace never allowing their spines to bend or break under the pressure of their massive crowns. One stands high above the others, clearly more important. Tied above one of its thorns hung an intricately laced note. She carefully wriggles the single rose free and unties the laced paper. Gracie’s head becomes light and faint as she read the cursive scripture inside. Her eyes absorb the words before her reading aloud, “I love you.”
It is the first time her beloved Theodore had made a gesture of love towards her. He tends to be shy and nervous about his feelings. Gracie was so overjoyed that she spun around the room with the rose in her hand; both feeling loved. She dances on musical sheets while imagining Theo’s deep sensual voice singing a chorus, verse and bridge of “I love you.” The peanut gallery of clocks, blue velvet couches, wooden tables and stands hum softly with the peculiar girl swaying to her illusory melody. Gracie only desires that Theo be there to dance with her in their own personal bubble of love as they spend the rest of their lives together. Her heart flutters as she makes plans to surprise him that night.
Dizzy in love, Gracie slows to a stop, overwhelmed by the aroma clinging in the air. As she caught her breath, the sweet scent of love crowded her wide nostrils, hungry for more of the roses’ distinguished perfume. Her heart was beating fast and vibrantly, never ceasing to slow as the thick-with-love blood travels through her toasty, joyous body down to her particularly warm hand, holding the tip of the rose’s stem. Sliding her hand up the stalk she zigzags harsh points threatening to puncture her skin. At the base of the crimson crown, her fingertips feel a gist of something silky. Gracie leans down, her rosy cheeks creasing into a smile upon the velvety pedals. She pulls away, though her intoxicated nose begged to differ. Her eyes become wide and red in reflection of the rose’s mesmerizing glow of love, warmth, and joy. The two red heads were confident and unstoppable, filled with love.
That night, Gracie walks up the front steps of Theodore’s haunted mansion, (the kid’s worst nightmare come Halloween). Swooshing winds twist and knot her hair, stirring up a fight with its consistent whistles and howls. The eerie feeling is unnoticed; Gracie’s attention on the candle lit room upstairs, his room. Her heart swarms in anticipation for what lie ahead that evening as ding dong echoes through each vacant, dusty crevice inside the weathered siding. Gracie hears a thump thump, thump, thump as Theo jogs down the carpeted stairs. Her lips curve into a bright smile, glowing against the black night. The heavy, crooked, paint-chipped door creaks open, exposing Theo’s bare chest and confused expression.
“Gracie, what are you doing here? You never told me that you were coming over. It’s ten o’clock!” he exclaims nervously.
“I received the vase of roses this morning,” she replies while holding up the one in her hand. Hurt at his accusing tone, she continues, “It was just so beautiful and sweet that I wanted to come by to say thank you. I thought that maybe we could—. ”
A female voice from upstairs interrupts her, “Theo, who’s at the door? I’m waiting!” The gears in Gracie’s head turn faster and stronger, letting off steam as she fit the pieces together. The flowers had not been for her. Gracie’s face turns as scarlet as the rose hanging down from her right hand, feeling humiliated and defeated. Filled with mortification and rage for thinking that he could possibly have loved her, she backs away from the spooky, cruel mansion as a ghost floats down the stairs. It is some tramp wrapped in Theo’s white bed sheets. A thick layer of tears blurs her vision, but not the sound of his slut asking, “Who was that?” as Theo shuts the door. In the pitch black, Gracie is unaware of the silent steps behind her, waiting for her to fall and crash down onto the ragged pavement, putting on a show for the wind, now cackling and howling. Hot tears streamed down her face and eventually slide into the depths of her open sobbing mouth. The salty lines transform into strips of ice in the bitter air.
Her hand which had grasped the razor-sharp spikes ejecting from the stem in the midst of anger and fright while falling, now looks as if it has the Chickenpox. Liquid, carmine domes are dispersed over her creamy white palm. Gracie shivers as she tries and fails to get up off the cold ground, draining away her body heat. Feeling dizzy from the head wound, she picks up the limp rose to gather it against her chest. A few maroon pedals fall and blend into the black abyss surrounding them. Its poor, frail, unloved body needs to be taken care of, alike Gracie. Without love they have no chance of survival.
Blood drip drops down from the wound on her head. Gracie puts the head of rose up to her nostrils, inhaling the sweet scent, now faint in the wind. Against her nose and lips, the pedals feel leathery as ridges form in result of water being sucked down into the rubbery stem as the rose desperately tries to protect itself from the outside world, threatening to hurt its heart once again. Gracie’s tears mixed with thick, opaque blood form a translucent pink that fall onto the mahogany pedals and run down the browning stem, dodging each sharp obstacle. Then, off they go. Free falling to the ground they shatter into helpless shards being scattered across the sidewalk and seeping into the cracks.
Glancing up at the silhouettes of Theo and his date, Gracie becomes dizzy with bittersweet memories of the man who had damaged her fragile heart and mind. In desperation to be rid of the terrible thoughts, she angles the dangerous flower toward her goose bumped calf. Slowly, she sinks the needlelike thorns inward, allowing warm blood to spew upward from the puncture wound. It then trails along the deep crevice running up her smooth, shivering leg. Adrenaline rushes through her shocked yet thriving veins, releasing tension through multiple burgundy lines in various directions. Her skin the canvas and each thorn a chiseled pencil. Her skin, once glowing and full of life has now vanished beneath the bloody masterpiece.
Crunchy, dark maroon pedals break off one by one in the slightest breeze. Malnourished and frail, they are tormented by the wind scraping them against the sidewalk. Gracie no longer cares for the lifeless rose let alone anything else. Her heart strives on in opposition, slowly and steadily pumping blood out of the body like a pipe with millions of holes and broken valves happy to drain the fluids. It is no longer needed for loving or caring, just pumping and living inside a dead body. Gracie gasps for oxygen, her breaths white puffs against the frigid air. She grips the old, weak rose dying in her embrace. The pedals crumble, becoming dust in the wind. The stem remains a scarred body with no longer a head to think or a heart to feel. Huddled in a ball, drenched in cold, dark red blood, three last words escape her shivering, blue lips. “I love you.”
The next morning, eleven remaining roses stand proud and tall in the early, nourishing sun. They are to fend for themselves in a new world with many chances of love. On the other hand, a little bit of Gracie, lives in each of their proud, confident bodies. She will live on in each of them, having eleven more chances at love. Maybe she will finally get it right. With love, there are always second, third, and sometimes eleven more chances.