rose bushes

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The tree outside my window makes creepy shadows on my bedroom walls, but I'm too old to be scared of them. I'm not alone, so I have no fear.

His arm wraps around my waist, and I move closer. He smells of my mother's dead rose bushes, where he'd fallen earlier trying to get up to my window. I'd picked all the leaves out of his constantly bedraggled brown hair, gazed into the gleaming hazel eyes containing a sheepish smile… and kissed those smiling lips.

The carefree, amusing moment was over now. The only thing left in the room is us, the dread, and the creepy shadows. Soon, it will just be me and the shadows… the dread will follow both of us.

"I wish you didn't have to go," I murmur into his arm.

He hugs me tighter. "I do too."

"It's you're stupid dad…. This is his fault." My anger is muffled by his sweater.

"No… don't blame him."

I scoff. "Then who should I blame?"

He shrugs. "The world? Fate? There's a greater power out there… and it's toying with us… with me."

I look up at him. "What do you mean?"

He sighs before he turns onto his back, looking at the shadows and my ceiling. "I never asked for this… but it's like life won't give me a fricking break. If I could undo everything, I would…." He turns to me. "For you… I'd do anything."

I rest my head on his chest. "The feeling's mutual."

He smirks. "Still… how else can I stop it if I'm not there? I've got a better shot of ending this, once and for all, over there than stuck here."

My eyebrows furrow. "You're saying you're stuck here?"

"No. You've got it wrong. What I mean is… if it weren't for you, I'd be over there right now. And I'm glad it's you. I don't want to be there… but you'd let me do the right thing, right?"

"Of course I would. The right thing… well, it's right. You're good like that. It's… why I love you. Duh."

He smirks again. "I love you too. More than anyone." He sighs. "If only I could take you with me."

I stiffen, and he notices.

"Don't get any funny ideas. It's too dangerous."

I smile. "Love is a battlefield, isn't it?"

"No."

"The funny thing is," I go on, "love makes us do crazy things. Yeah, you could 'ground' me here… but I'd go crazy. Crazy enough to follow you on my own. So… which would be worse? Going with you into the danger… or following you and getting in danger all by myself?"

He sighs. "You're evil, you know that?"

I smile and wait.


"No way." I scoff, but he beats me. "Like I would drag you into H*ll with me? As if. You're probably already crazy. But I'm crazy too."

"Crazy how?"

I can tell he's smiling. "Crazy enough to tell your dad about this, missy."

I sit up and whirl on him. "You wouldn't dare," I say threateningly.

He just smiles. "I bet I would. Wanna go find out?"

The window shatters.

Faster than anything I could ever see, he pulls me off the bed and we fall together onto the floor. More gunshots are ringing throughout my room, as if someone was aiming up. My ceiling is getting rained on.

He cusses. "They must've followed me here."

"What're you gonna do?"

Without answering, he pulls out some sort of gun from his pocket. He glances at me. "I thought I should be prepared for the worst." He flashes a smile, then turns to the window. "Head downstairs, get your dad, and head out the back way."

"What about you?"

"Don't worry about me. Go!" He shoves me across the floor and crawls to my window. I want to stay, despite the hailing bullets, but I think about my dad and what he could possibly be thinking. I head out the door, praying the worst hasn't happened when I bump into him.


He's livid in his striped pajamas. "What's--?!"

"No time! Head out the back!"

As I follow him down the stairs, he calls back, "It's because of him, isn't it?!"

I don't answer. He already knows.

The shooting never stops until we reach the back door. Dad's already out but I freeze. The dark house is suddenly silent. Car doors slam open and shut. Tires squeal into the night. Upstairs… there's no noise.

As I race back up, Dad calls my name from below but I don't listen.

My room is destroyed. Everything I could possibly own has a bullet wound. I walk in slowly, the floor creaking beneath me and freaking me out. The dread remains intact… as do the shadows on my bedroom walls. My bed looks like a chainsaw was racked across it. I don't see him anywhere.

My heart speeds up as I approach the broken window. I stare out into the night first… which also stays the same. It's silent out. The stars still shine. The tree still stands. My eyes move down of their own accord….

Among my mother's rose bushes he lies….

They're alive again with red.





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