Two Shades of Red

September 10, 2008
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It is truly astonishing, what thoughts a simple rose on my doorstep can bring.

My eyes widen at the small, crimson flower on the faded beige welcome mat. The blossom almost comes across as spilt blood, the stem taking on the appearance of cupid’s arrow. I quickly blink the image away, and the object materializes back into a delicate mark of affection.

Affection. The word pierces a nail into my heart. My blood freezes to solid ice, and I am almost shivering as I bend to pick up the thorny stalk.

That’s when I gasp. “Ouch!”

He turns back to look at me, his brow furrowed. “What is it?” he asks in concern.

I smile at him, shrugging off the small burst of pain in my arm. “Oh, it’s nothing,” I assure him nonchalantly. “Just bumped my elbow off the table.” I gesture to the offending, oak desk in the corner of the class room. He frowns at me, and then wordlessly snatches my arm in a quick flash. I yelp as his rough fingers graze the bruise, but he doesn’t apologize. He just narrows his eyes and pushes up the sleeve of my blazer.

Protruding under the thin argyle is an angry, purple bruise. I can’t mask the flinch I give it when I soak up the sight…the edges of it are a mild shade of lavender, while the center is such a concentrated shade of lilac, it looks as if it were an ugly black.

He pauses a moment, before hesitantly speaking. “Well, don’t just stand there. Hurry up, go to the nurses’ office and get an ice pack before class starts.”

I open my mouth, try to speak words of gratitude, but my voice cracks and dies. Light pink burns on my cheeks as I attempt to force out a “thank you,” and yet my throat refuses.

“Go!” he whispers harshly as the bell tears cleanly through the awkward silence. He gives me a small shove out the door. My skin heats at the touch as I rush out the door, more than willingly obeying his command.

I spring from the small flashback as a tiny, perfectly sphere droplet of blood leaks from the small tear on my finger, created by the rose’s thorn. I quickly wipe the blood off on the pockets of my jeans, choosing to admire the complex beauty of the blossom in front of me. Eyeing the intricate, ruffled design of the soft petals, I wonder how the earth itself could push up such a delicate treasure.

“Flowers are beautiful,” he murmurs to me through the thick blackness of night.

I swallow thickly, looking at the delicate daffodils in front of the two of us. He turns to me, his eyes brimming with intense feelings. “Aren’t they?”

Once again, I’m rendered speechless by him. His peculiar mix of icy coolness and tender warmth are always wrapped around each other, always entwined, always surfacing at unpredictable timing. That is one thing that always intrigues me, always gets to me.

He misinterprets my silence and sighs heavily, a low, mournful sound. “Our opinion of beauty is so battered down these days,” he nearly whispers. “We have so much technology now, so many artificial things that create beauty, that the real definition of it has been lost.” He tilts his head back, admiring the faint glow of the tiny pinpricks of stars above. I glance at them, too…the stars look as if they are precious jewels, diamonds, pinning back the big, velvet sky.

“True beauty is in the skies and the flowers,” he breathes from beside me. “True beauty is in nature. But...” He shuffles his feet a bit awkwardly. “I don’t know if you understand…”

“Of course I do,” I tell him boldly, turning to face him. He arches an eyebrow and glances at me, that cool, collected side of him taking control. I take a deep breath, treading on thin ice. “If we know where artificial stuff comes from, where’s the mystery?” Now he looks…interested. “I think the mystery is part of the beauty of it.”

He looks thoughtfully for a moment, and then, a small smirk tugs on his thin lips. “You are a mystery,” he tells me, crossing his arms abruptly.

I am taken aback; did he just mean what I think he meant? Did he imply something I’ve always wished for him to imply? Tell me I was a mystery, therefore adding to my beauty?

Perplexed, I come out with a warped version of “I love you”. “Well, you are a mystery, too.”

And before either of us can respond, his lips are sealed on mine.

I shake my head, battling the siege of memories that threaten to overtake me. Still, gazing at the deep scarlet of the rose, I can’t help but recollect the colors I had seen while we kissed, the sparks that had flown.

But to this day, I scold myself for holding every moment spent with him so close to my heart. I scold myself for thinking this rose is from him.

After all, our last encounter was far from friendly.

“How could you?!”

My voice is like nothing I had ever heard, sharp and high pitched, bordering hysteria and dripping in hurt. My breath comes out in heavy puffs, and my veins feel as if they are directing the flow of turbulent flames. But it is his fault. I am furious beyond any emotion I had ever felt, and it almost scares me.

He shakes his head vigorously. “It’s not what you think.”

I burn with fire and rage, my words intending to spread the flares. “You kissed her. Someone else! And I thought…” The power dies as fear builds up, fear of speaking of what we had, the things we had done.

He inhales a sharp breath. “The two of us never started dating.”

“But you kissed me! You said you loved me so many times!” I sigh and squeeze the bridge of my nose. My throat is hoarse and sore from yelling, but no pain measures to that in my heart. “You are a mystery,” I spit at him. “Something I never want to solve.”

And before he can respond to this pronouncement, I am off running, far away from him, forever.

Or so I thought.

I gasp slightly as the rose floats wistfully toward the ground. No, no, no. This can’t be happening. He doesn’t exist…he’s not real! I vowed never to think of him! I try and convince myself, over and over. But I know for a fact that is he is very real, and he says he’s sorry. But I can’t trust him. Never again.

But…what is this? What is this feeling in my heart, this warmth in my chest? What is this fluttering, like a million butterflies in my stomach?

This isn’t from him. Impossible.

Yet as I spot the name scrawled on the small, yellowed tag on the rose’s stem, I realize in sheer horror that you truly can not choose the one you want.

Join the Discussion

This article has 6 comments. Post your own now!

nevlove said...
Sept. 20, 2008 at 5:00 pm
WOW! That was so great and you really have some talent in all areas. Keep it up!
irishgirl93 said...
Sept. 20, 2008 at 2:22 am
awesome job, like insanely amazing!!!!!
Suzi Q said...
Sept. 18, 2008 at 1:50 am
Excellent! Your words created a great visual. The rose is truly a magnificent flower.
anonymous said...
Sept. 16, 2008 at 8:31 pm
that was really good! i loved it!
kiki said...
Sept. 16, 2008 at 7:01 pm
I thought this essay was intense with description and emotion. I found I wanted to keep reading to discover the purpose . Good job!!!
Gingertheoorang said...
Sept. 16, 2008 at 11:33 am
Wow!!! Very impressive Carly. I always knew you were so talented, but I didn't know you were so deep! WOW!
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