I tried to reach you, but you smiled and shook your head. Flames clawed at your white dress and painted it black. I screamed, but even the pain from my roar couldn’t penetrate the wall of fire. As it flickered and waved, I swear I could see your lips touch the fragile petals of the last rose you clutched to your heart. Then, the flames died in a collapse of ember, ash, and a trail of smoke, reaching for the stars you now inhabited.
I ignored all sense of logic and reason as I ripped through the remains of life we’d built. Our home, our livelihood, our life, all drowned in waves of blood orange. At the bottom of the ashen abyss, somehow, the rose lay untouched by the hands of hell. I cradled it in my death caked hands, lifting it closer to my lips hoping I could somehow touch yours.
What I lost in one accident all the money in the world couldn’t pay back. The insurance gave me a roof I couldn’t call mine, but I forced myself to live there. Rebuilt on your grave, it seemed almost a crime to go anywhere else and abandon you yet again. I placed your rose in a vase and watched it each day. Visitors came and went, purchasing flowers with no real life and leaving their condolences with their stale paper exchange.
All the while, the crimson in your rose never faded. It sprouted leaves to match your eyes, and the petals never wilted. The water sparkled in the morning rays and the sweet smell echoed the touch of your lips. I rested each night with hopes of dreams of you while the rose lasted in your spirit.
Then, on the anniversary of the fiery demise, the petals paled. The crimson faltered, and the leaves drooped. Day after day, the rose aged in the harsh light of accident remembered, and I prayed, begged, yelled, screamed, and tended with all my might to no avail. You always had the greener thumb.
In its wilting wake, I cried to the echo of heartbeat your each night. At midnight when I lied awake, I mistook wisps of wind for your parting kiss. The light played tricks on my eyes as it formed visages of you in the mirror. The rose shriveled, and the water grew murky. All sparkle, all life lost. One perfect petal fell from the skeleton of the rest, and I cupped it to my heart on the evening of the full moon. The breeze whispered tales of magic and rebirth, and I drifted with dreams of you.
When I woke, I found no petal in my hand. My heart weighed heavy and my eyes clouded with the futility of trying to recover things lost. I clenched my hands into fists and rushed downstairs to the lies of life waiting in the storeroom. A wisp of white cloth caught my eye and disappeared around the corner. I followed it and a trial of wilted petals crunching under my feet as I crumbled their last breaths. I paused in the doorway entering the back garden, your garden. I forced my hand to open the gateway and my heart gurgled blood into my ears as my name wove its way in the wind.
The white dress twirled as you turned, cupping the loan petal to your heart. Your eyes sparkled in the streams of morning light as you closed the gap between us. It wasn’t until your lips met mine I could dare believe you were anything but a foul ghost of your former self.
My Hollie, you’d returned to me.
“I’m sorry I had to leave you, Lawrence. Never again, my love.”
With that, you turned and buried the petal in the center of your barren garden, waiting for your rose to grow.