And A Rose for You Too
The ride was nauseating. I was used to reckless cab drivers; this one definitely topped the list in my book. A few swerves later he pulled up at the little coffee shop on the corner; our little, quiet spot. I stepped out of the bright yellow taxi and the familiar aroma of New York hit me. A thin layer of snow crunched beneath my feet as I walked towards the door. It was nearly the heart of February, though the weather was changing it was still technically winter. As I opened the quaint coffee shop doors a blast of warm air and smell of coffee flew from the room. A couple shrieks came from across the shop and I embraced her in hug.
“Ah, Rose you look so cute!” Emily, my best friend, told me. Yes, it had only been a matter of hours since I’d seen her last.
“Thanks Em!” I replied. We sat down with our over-sweetened coffees and chatted for a while. That is, until Emily brought her up. A name I hadn’t heard in years.
“Wait you’ll never guess what I heard!” Emily’s bright green eyes exclaimed.
“What is it?” I asked brushing her off slightly.
“So, Jamie told Alexa, and Alexa told me that the word is that Caroline Baker is moving back to The Big Apple,” Emily told me sipping her coffee proudly. The temperature in the room dropped several degrees. A burning sensation in my head formed, I had to leave. I told Emily thanks for meeting me and hurried away
I walked into school the following day with swarms of kids whispering and walking fast, only pausing a slight moment to give me a side glance. It was true.
“Rose!” Emily yelled behind me. I whipped around and that is when I saw her. The flash of her blonde hair reminded me that nothing had changed. For the quickest moment Caroline and I made eye contact. Her icy blue eyes bared into my soul. Emily grabbed me by the arm and practically carried me to English. Caroline had been my best friend since the sixth grade and in freshman year she hurt me like no one ever had. She lied to me, betrayed me, left me for other, more popular girls, and then moved far away and it’s a sure good thing she did. Now the whole school knew about the feud between Rosella Ricci and Caroline Baker.
After English, I leaned against the cold wall staring at various artworks done by the art students. It was lunch time but I was far from hungry
“Hey stranger,” a voice said behind me. Matthew Thompson leaned up against the wall next to me. Matthew was the guy Caroline and I fawned over during freshman year.
“So I heard she’s back,” Matthew looked at me searching for an emotion. I shrugged. “You guys used to be friends, no?” he asked me. I nodded my head ever so slightly. “Well when you feel like talking I’m always here,” he said as he walked towards the cafeteria. That was only the start of a never ending day.
I walked home today, hoping to clear my head. Today the walk felt unusually short. When I got home there was a gorgeous red rose waiting for me at my doorstep. Attached to the rose was a small note, it read:
“Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
You’ll be sorry,
When I’m through with you,”
Bewildered I chucked the rose into the trash bin. I thought nothing of the rose that night until the next morning when a pretty box of chocolates took its place, waiting at my doorstep. I pulled the deep red string from the box and a tiny note fell. This one read:
“You can't ignore me,”
I chucked the chocolates into the trash bin along with the rose. Did Caroline think she was funny? Did she really think this was funny? Fuming, I strode of to school. As soon I as I got there I went for Caroline. I was overwhelmed by anger, as if another person was puppeting my body. Blinded by rage I stormed right up to Caroline.
“You're very funny,” I said to her
She turned around with a disgusted look on her face. I remembered that face. “Excuse me?”
“The roses? The letters?” I spat.
Her expression changed to a more sincere look and her voice lowered.
“You're getting letters?”
“Let's skip the part where you don't know what I'm talking about.” I responded.
“I'm getting letters too,” she said eyes wide in shock. That hit me like a big yellow school bus.
“W-what?” I asked.
“The roses, and chocolates, and creepy notes?” She said nodding. Was she joking? Playing stupid? Or was she honestly another Valentine's Day victim? We talked about it up until the bell rang. It's crazy that such enemies could be brought together of such a odd thing. But trust me when I say, I was not blinded from how I felt about Caroline. It turns out it was true. She was receiving weird messages just like me. If it wasn't Caroline then who was it? I couldn't sleep that night I was thinking about it for what seemed like forever.
I awoke that morning to a third gift. A heart shape balloon was waiting for me this morning. This note’s curvy pink letters said:
“Now you've figured out the game, nothing will be the same, don't think that you have won, because I'm only starting to have fun.”
Creepy. This was truly starting to get creepy.
Time went by and February unfolded more. Caroline and I set aside our differences and began to bond again over solving our little mystery. More messages were delivered and even though days had passed we weren't any closer at making a list of suspects. Some days it felt like nothing ever changed.
“What if we sent messages back and got them to meet us?” Caroline would present.
“We’d have to know who to send it too in order to do that,” I would respond.
February 13th I walked into the lunchroom. One side of the room sat Emily and the other, Caroline. I was torn. Caroline looked up smiled and gave me a friendly wave. As much as I despised Caroline for what she did to me, we were truly bonding over our little mystery and I wanted nothing more than to solve it. As I walked towards Caroline’s table I felt Emily's glares baring into my back. Yep, she was definitely mad. I sat down across from her and began unpacking my lunch bag. The next thing I knew Matthew walked over to our table.
“Caroline,” he nodded, “you two have become fast friends again,” Caroline and I looked at each other and laughed. Just like old times. Matthew shook his head. Of what you would think is laughter came a more sarcastic shake of his head. He walked away swiftly. Caroline shrugged and we dug into our lunches.
Soon it was the day before Valentine's Day and of course another bombardment of gifts came in from what Caroline and I called our “Secret Admirer”. Roses, fruit baskets, teddy bears, you name it, we got it. Normally girls would be overjoyed to receive such gifts except for the fact that ours were laced with stalker-like messages.
“Best friends forever? At least that's what it seems, unless your names are Caroline and Rosella Ricci”
It was after this message we developed a plan that night. We agreed we had to put an end to all of this. Our secret admirer was watching us right? So we decided to send them a little message of our own.
“Good morning Bulldogs and happy Valentine's Day!” Caroline’s peppy voice blared through the morning announcement speaker at school. Our principal thought it was a lovely idea for students to start doing announcements, so naturally Caroline and I signed up first. “Today is a day of sharing love and we'd like to start it off by sending one to our secret admirers! Meet us in Central Park in front of the zoo this afternoon, love ya!” Caroline continued to list off the other news of sports teams and various clubs. It was perfect, discrete, but perfect. People who weren’t involved would think nothing of it, but that one person would know. It sent shivers down my spine to think our secret stalker was somewhere in our school, in this building. We went about the day as if we were walking on clouds and rainbows, nothing could stop us. It was one of those days you felt completely invincible. Before the day was done and I walked out of school Emily caught me by my shoulders.
“Hey em-” I started to say. Before she cut me off.
“Don't, your just like her” she said and stormed away. Taken back I tried to follow her but realized it was worthless. When Emily is mad, Emily does things she does not mean to do. I'll give her some time. I shook it off until tomorrow and remembered what today was really about. Finding our secret admirer-stalker, right?.
I met Caroline close to the park so we could walk together. The sun was close to setting at this point. Mid conversation about something that didn't really matter Caroline said
“I'm sorry”. I was a little confused at first but then remembered perfectly what she was talking about. “I should never have done that to you,” she added
“It's fine” I said trying to let the topic go.
“No, it really isn't” see looked at me. Her bright blue eyes locking into place.
It took me a while to find the right words and in the end I was barely able to squeak out a “thank you” before my eyes welled with tears. Everything was almost normal again. And it had happened so fast.
Before we knew it we were standing at the gates of a now closed zoo, the shadow of the night consumed the gates and trees. But we did live in New York, even when the sun fell life continued, or should I say began. The cool air nipped at my cheeks. What on earth were we doing?
“Should we call for them?” Caroline whispered to me. I shrugged what would we call them. Behind us a twig snapped we both jerked around.
“We know you're out there” I said without thinking.
“It's not Halloween come say hello.” Caroline added. She was right it wasn't Halloween but it sure did feel like it right now. The footsteps of the night drew closer. The sound of little twigs and forgotten Fall leaves crunched beneath their footsteps. Caroline and I exchanged a glance of fear, she nodded. We turned towards the direction of the admirer, ready to tackle the mystery. The tall, athletic figure slid from the shadows. Caroline spoke first “Matthew?!”