January 16, 2008
By Laura Cerrone, New Hyde Park, NY

Staring into his livid face she knew something had occurred. Even worse, she knew it occurred wrongly, and out of passion. He was killed for her.

Before the sun set on her and before she had even realized his blood pooled evenly on the tiles, there was a beautiful morning. Fresh coffee percolated in its pot and delicate pastries stacked in a pyramid on a plate in the center of a table. Sunlight beamed and danced on the cold tiles, beginning to warm them to a day of bare foot touches. Mornings in the household weren’t usually this perfect movie setting, but it was a special occasion. It was her birthday. She was Gerard’s only reason for breathing, his own beautiful and darling, Azalea. How the very name of hers brought sweet thoughts to his mind and sinful lust that danced on his lips. A flower for which she was named for she surpassed any of its possessions, she was unique and gracious. The flower was soft and abundant. But the most of what he loved about her was her love for him. With every kiss she wanted more, and with every touch came with the same feeling.

The breakfast was befitting for her as she deserved only the best, especially on this day, where she came into the world just for him. They lounged for most of the morning and then she left for a spa treatment and lunch with her best of friends. It gave Gerard all the time he needed to set up the perfect evening, as if what he’d already done for her wasn’t enough. Last year he surprised her with a beautiful remote vacation on a small island in the tropics. The year before he bought her a house and furnished it with all his hard work. But he did his work so graciously knowing it was to put a smile on her face and the most gratifying feeling for him. This year, he planned something bigger then any of which he had previously done. It was small, so small he kept it close to his heart, because she belonged there. A little velvet box with a beautiful white gold engagement ring neatly placed on a luxurious satin cushion. They would be bonded forever, more sacred then the love they shared.

But a phone call to Azalea’s cell phone ruined the splendid plans. It was a threatening message, said by someone with a deep cruel voice. It iced her ears, and stopped her blood from flowing. The very context was enough to do it, but the sound of the twisted syllables and seething spiteful words echoed in her innocent heavenly head. “If you want to live, come to the harbor at twilight. If you don’t there will be much more lost then your life.” And then the call wrung silence. Tears spiked at the back of her eyes, but she would not cry on her birthday. She would not ruin the delicately placed make-up she was treated to at the spa. She would not worry her friends with her troubles. She would not risk being the cause of others being hurt. She was too noble.

She left the lunch before twilight hit and stood at the base of the dock. The harbor was misty from the pink sunset and a figure, silhouetted by night’s advancing shadows stood at the very end. Azalea swallowed very hard, the first step she took on the old dock came with a creak that could be heard over the calmly sloshing waters at the beach where the tide was coming in. The sky was a spectrum of colors, pinks, violets, reds, oranges, a simple pleasure Azalea would enjoy on a better noted circumstance. The moon crept out from its solar slumber, and its faint yellow was round and plump, the kind wolves howl to in the scariest of stories.

And slowly Azalea stepped again, small ballerina steps towards an unpredictable fate. How if only she had not went out today and spent it in the arms she has only know of warmth and love. She felt each step she took to get closer was a step further from Gerard, and a step closer would be a crush to his poor heart. And although the tears picked at her eyes she would not cry, she would not cry even though the beach breeze stung at her face. She would not break countenance and show fear. Azaleas were such a sweet flower, and if she were to go down tonight, she’d live up to the name she was given. Finally her steps became equivalent to a mouse and she was standing in the shadow of the figure she had secreted her fear from. All black was the clothes that this monster wore, and a face obscured by a mask that could only be matched the terrifying sound of that voice.

But Azalea could not back down right now. She held back her tears and felt the quick harsh grab of her wrists that marked her prisoner. She could not fight to loose her grace.

Disgraced was the only word she could come up with after she lay breathless in a dark van. Her naked body shuddered in the cold, it had been so disgustingly violated, but she did not cry even with the heaviness pulling at her eyes. The hum of the motor stopped and that despicable voice commanded her to dress herself. As she forcibly slid on her clothes the back doors to the van swung open, and she was dragged out under the hazy glow of the streetlight lamps. The van sped away a moment after and she was left standing partially clothed in front of the house that was bought for her. With large tiger leaps she fled to up the pathway and to the wide open door. All lights were off inside and a spattered mess of red speckled the walls. She raced down the hallway crushing azalea petals of all colors as she went and past the bedroom she shared with the man she loved and into the kitchen.

The white tiles on the floor, which had gleamed in the morning sunrise, were cold again. A dark rich color swished and splattered on the floor, and a limp body laid stoic in the bulk of it. So much blood poor Azalea thought. With her barely on heels she made her way to the center of the once beautiful room. The soles of her heels left footprints as she crossed through the thick liquid. To the body she went to and she knew what it was. The face of the person that gave her everything she could ever need. The lips that kissed with fiery yet subtle passion, the eyes that watched over her in their misty guard and the hands that held her to keep her safe, and the body that warmed her to no end. Bruises on his pale arms and cuts on his hands and face showed that he had fought for her, but a bullet hole was too much for even his strongest love to survive. This was the man she loved, with a little velvet box, opened at its crease on his chest. A large diamond sparkled through the darkness of the night.

And now she couldn’t hold back the spiking, picking, holding, and pulling at her eyes. The saddest tears rolled down her cherubic face. This was the end for the Azalea, the reason she ever bothered to perk her bright face in the spring, just so along with her heart and her flower, she could die in the winter.

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