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brigits_flame Entry
Prompt:
Flourish
Word Count: 2,590

Flourish


I planted a rose the day we met. I didn’t realise then that I would be planting my rose on the day we met. It was simply another day. A day that began with a low, cool mist which soon burned off as the sun rose higher. A day with clear blue skies dappled with soft wisps of cloud. A day that ended with a fiery sunset, the sky aflame with red and orange as the heat finally began to dissipate. A perfect early summer day. That was the day I planted my rose, a yellow rose, the colour of warm custard.

My rose looked good the day I planted it. It was early morning. Typically I couldn’t sleep. I never could back then. Rather than laying awake, tossing and turning in sweat dampened sheets trying to catch onto some wisp of slumber, I got up. I padded around the house quietly even though there was no one there to disturb. I did most things quietly; I spoke quietly and never argued. I saw my rose sitting in the kitchen sink, waiting for me to plant it. It looked incongruous there, amongst the one plate, one cup and one bowl which was all I needed to use on a daily basis. I stroked its soft green leaves and caressed the new buds. I pulled on some shoes and silently went out into the garden. In the morning mist I planted my rose. It glowed amongst the dull, dark greenery of my garden. I had few flowers. I’d never seen the point of wasting my time with bold flashes of colour. Far better to stick with uniform green. It felt safer and more stable. I wasn’t sure what had possessed me to buy the rose in the first place but now it was here, in my garden, I felt a rush of excitement. Just looking at its golden colour in the morning sun sent a thrill through my body. I watched it for what felt like hours, watched it settle in to its new home. Its new home with me.

I met you later that day through a friend of a friend. I hadn’t expected to like you, I thought you’d be just another ‘almost right’. Like the woman with the unfortunate body odour or the one who hated all forms of animal life and was fairly iffy about plants as well. People with whom I would nod and smile, but never actually want to see again. You were different. You were dark and mysterious, an enigma and I was intrigued, despite myself. We left together that night, something out of character for my usually cautious temperament. Usually cautious to the extreme. In my living room we talked and drank and talked some more. We talked of nothing in particular, of folktales and dreams and of poets and legends. Later, we explored each other’s bodies in the dark, silently. When I woke, again far too early, I quietly crept out of the bed and moved like a ghost through the house, afraid to disturb you. I made fresh coffee and went out into the garden. My rose had wilted overnight, its golden head bowed and its leaves drooping in a half-hearted shrug. I stroked the dull leaves, already losing their shine and lustre. I tried to coax the buds towards the sun and away from the ground. My rose looked awkward and unsure of itself with its buds and flowers curled up and looking down at its roots. I fetched some water in the hope that some moisture would revive my ailing plant. It had little effect. I watched it sadly for a while before heading back inside. Back to you.

We became inseparable, you and I. For weeks my life revolved around making you happy. I devoted myself to you. My friends and commitments began to ebb from my mind to be replaced by the flow of you, your thoughts and desires, your needs. You were tender to start with, gentle and understanding. I rarely let other people into my life, into my heart and you seemed sympathetic to my struggle. You coaxed my heart out of the dark place it had hidden for so long, tempting it with crumbs of promises. Promises of devotion and passion, love and security. My naïve fragile heart believed you, believed in you. The only part of my former life that mattered to me now was my rose. If I could keep my rose alive, help it to grow and flourish then maybe I could do the same with you. Maybe I could be everything you wanted me to be. Even when I began to spend my days and nights at your place I still returned home daily to check on my rose. My rose looked sad and dejected despite my attention. It exuded an air of apathy, refusing to keep its flowers turned upwards towards the sun. Dust began to settle on its now dull and dog-eared leaves. The local insects were making a meal of my poor rose, stripping the life from its leaves. The night I told you I loved you I returned home to visit my rose. It was the early hours of the morning and I had crept out whilst you were asleep. In the moonlight I checked my rose’s leaves. Not only were they holed and uneven from the local caterpillars but now ugly black spots adorned the rest like a pox. I raced inside to try and find some cure in my many books only to discover that my rose had a fungal infection that would weaken my rose until it succumbed completely. I grabbed a pair of scissors and started to remove the affected leaves wincing each time the blades sliced through another stem. Once my grim task was done I sat with my rose like a concerned relative would sit at a hospital bed. My rose was looking bare, shorn of the vast proportion of its leaves. It could barely muster up the strength to look accusingly at me for being so barbaric. Instead it drooped its remaining leaves and bowed its flowers and looked sad.

Each time I visited my rose I felt a stab of pain in my heart. I never told you about my rose, wisely predicting that you wouldn’t understand. You didn’t do sentiment, not even with me. The more I devoted myself to you, the more abrasive you became. You were possessive and disliked my former friends. When they called me I could only bear to talk with them for a few minutes for fear of upsetting you. You listened to my brief, stilted conversations bristling with displeasure and refused to talk to me for hours after I hung up the phone. I never returned my friends calls and eventually their contact with me dwindled away to nothing. I rarely went out alone. You preferred to accompany me, to know where I was and what I was doing at all times. Even when you went out alone, to wherever it was you went, I remained at home. Surely you would know if I snuck out by myself. I couldn’t bear to lie to you and my truthfulness would give me away. I did go out alone occasionally, when you were too busy and needed an errand to be run. I would do whatever you wanted me to.

The night you hit me I had run one of those errands for you. I was usually out for only the minimum amount of time possible, knowing how you liked me to be prompt to return home to you. This time however, I ran into an old friend, formerly a close friend. Against all better judgement I agreed to a coffee. After all, what harm could an innocent cup of coffee do? I enjoyed the reunion and began to relax for the first time in months. I could even ignore the concerned look that passed across my friend’s face whenever she looked at me. She didn’t understand. She couldn’t understand how much our relationship meant to me. When we parted the panic began to set it. I’d been away for what felt lie hours. You would notice it. You couldn’t help but notice. You didn’t like my friends; you didn’t trust them and told me time and again that they were bad for me. People who would bring me down and prevent me from flourishing. You were waiting when I guiltily pushed open the door. You seemed calm for a moment, asked me where I’d been. I told you and the calm surface broke. Your face became ugly and contorted and you screamed at me. Didn’t I realise that these people were bad for me? Didn’t I know that you were the only one who cared for me? Didn’t I appreciate you protecting me from people who would ultimately hurt me? Didn’t I love you at all? You slapped me hard across the face with each new accusation until your anger was spent and you sank to floor in tears. I comforted you then, rocking you gently as you sobbed.

Later, while you slept, I snuck out to visit my rose. Tiny green aphids coated its stems and buds like a fungus. A moving, rippling fungus. I feverishly tried to knock them off, tears silently rolling down my cheek, but there were too many. I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the dark glass of my neglected windows. My hair hung limply around my shoulders, my skin was pale and dry aside from my bruised cheek and my eyes seemed large and haunted. I looked in just as bad a condition as my poor rose. I half expected to see insects crawling over my skin like they swarmed around the stems of my rose. I sat with my rose until just before dawn when I crept back home to you.

The autumn dragged on, an Indian summer that year, with temperatures remaining warm and the days staying sunny. The sunlight set the turning leaves on fire, a mass of glowing reds, oranges and yellows. You became more erratic than usual, chastising me for every little mistake and error, finding any excuse to punish me verbally or physically. I grew more tired and transparent, a shadow of my former self whilst you burned with energy. I developed nervous tics, a habit of jumping at loud noises and digging my fingernails into my palm whenever I felt unnerved. I pined for my rose which grew weaker every day until I could barely stand to visit it. I still went every day though it hurt to see it failing and fading. I sat in the warm night air talking to it, telling it my troubles. I confided in my rose the way I used to confide in my friends, when I still had any beyond you. I told my rose about every argument we had. I say we, I tended to agree with everything you shouted at me. If I hadn’t been so unkind or thoughtless you wouldn’t have any cause to shout and scream and hit. If I hadn’t defied you, you wouldn’t need to punish me. Each time I spoke to my rose about you it seemed to wilt some more. It grew too painful to sit outside watching my rose die and so I ventured into my neglected house. I wasn’t ready to come home to you yet, I didn’t want to go too far from my rose. The house was cold and dark. Dust settled on every surface and a mountain of post lay unstably behind the front door. I sifted through the bill reminders and junk mail not expecting to find anything more reading. A handwritten envelope caught my eye. I vaguely recognised the handwriting and, with my curiosity piqued, I settled down in a musty chair to read the letter inside.

It was from a former friend, the same friend that set up our meeting, that first meeting a lifetime ago. It was written in a shaky hand and began by apologising to me for everything she had done to me. I was intrigued. What could she have possibly have done to me? I was fine. I absentmindedly dug my fingernails into my palm, scratching at my dry skin whilst I read on. The letter detailed everything my friend had uncovered about you. The former lover you had hospitalised when she burned your dinner, though she had never pressed charges. The friends you alienated with you tempers and tantrums. The lovers which friends had collected from your house, sobbing and broken and convinced you still loved them. As I read my blood ran cold. This couldn’t be you. You had never treated me any way that I hadn’t deserved, had you? I gently touched the finger mark bruises on my upper arm where you had dragged me off the sofa. I fingered the swelling on my cheek from where I’d bought the wrong kind of milk. Wasn’t that my fault though? Hadn’t I known you always had full-fat? I glanced around my flat at the mess and neglect. This wasn’t how I usually lived. I’d never been able to write my name in the dust on the windowsill. I’d never before cultivated mould in stale teacups. I stood up and stretched and surveyed the mess. I went to the kitchen, threw open the back door and the windows and began to clean. I cleaned the whole flat that night. I polished until every surface sparkled, I took rugs and cushions outside and beat the dust out of their fibres, and I scrubbed the layers of scum and dirt that had built up on my dishes and sinks. I finished moments before the sky began to lighten. I went out into the garden, sweaty from my efforts but more relaxed than I had felt in a long time. I had a half smile on my face as I sat before my rose. The wilting buds and leaves seemed to have lifted slightly and an air of hope surrounded it. I returned to you just before the sun rose with a spring in my step.

I think you noticed a change in me after that. I caught you several times glancing nervously in my direction. I grew stronger every day as I made my plans. When you left on one of your mysterious outings I packed my bags and left you a note. I told you how much I loved you but that I had to leave. I told you that I hoped one day someone would teach you how to love without destroying someone in the process, but that I couldn’t be the person to do that, not now. I left your house without a backwards glance and returned to my flat, my garden and my rose.

I went straight out into the garden to check on my rose. It glowed in the sun like it did the morning I planted it. The buds, so long closed up had opened and the bright yellow flowers basked in the sun. I smiled for the first time in what felt like years as I caressed the soft fragrant petals of my rose. I was home and my rose was blooming for the first time since we met.

The day I left you my rose began to flourish.

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
gethrees
Apr. 19th, 2009 12:05 pm (UTC)
Haven't got round to reading this yet, but "Damn You" for "implanting" (see what I did there) a Hanson song in my head, and damn me for recognising the lyric as from Hanson!!!
lenina101
Apr. 19th, 2009 12:11 pm (UTC)
*chuckles*

Shame on you for recognising the lyric. Shame on me for googling for it *rolls eyes*. I could remember the line about 'is it going to be a daisy or a rose' but it didn't quite fit so I googled for the full lyrics.

I apologise.

In my defence I've been writing all morning to try and meet the deadline for this entry today so I blame that for my use of Hanson lyrics.
lenina101
Apr. 19th, 2009 12:13 pm (UTC)
Damn it. I've used another Hanson lyric for the latest post in my writing blog.

There is no hope. Time to get dressed and deal with the rest of today's jobs methinks
fragglechick
Apr. 19th, 2009 06:16 pm (UTC)
I don't always comment on your writing entries, although I always read them, but this one really struck a chord with me. I really enjoyed this one, the way the story flowed.
tierfal
Apr. 19th, 2009 11:20 pm (UTC)
Very powerful; nicely done! :) I liked the cadence of many of the sentences in particular. :)
cedarwolfsinger
Apr. 20th, 2009 08:32 pm (UTC)
This is very well written. The subject matter might be a trigger for some folks. I suggest that you might want to put a warning on it at the top. I am so very glad she left him, and was healthy enough to do so. Good luck with this piece.
terravayne
May. 3rd, 2009 09:50 pm (UTC)
The symbolism of the rose was beautiful. The progression from battered woman to a woman reborn was excruciating but so, so lovely. Like a rose that needs pruning before it can flourish. Wonderful use of the prompt. I loved this character study.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )