The Flowers This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

It happened roughly a week ago, and I still can’t quite wrap my head around it. That day would be forever memorable to me. It decided my future destiny.

It all started with simple, seemingly harmless ambition. After toiling for nearly six years in my mind-numbingly slow desk job, it was time for me to move up the ladder. One of the graying board members had finally gotten the hint from the younger employees and had retired. After everything that’s occurred, the exact nature of my job and my coveted position have been rendered inconsequential. All you need to take out of it is that it came with a pretty title and a corner office, which at the time seemed the most important things.

On my way to the human resources office to inquire about interviews for the position, my journey was impeded by a whirlwind of papers catapulted from the hands of a young coworker, stumbling over her too-high heels. As I bent down to assist her, I surveyed the girl. She smiled at me with a goofy, amiable grin. She was young, beautiful, and her eyes shone with the prospect of making a bang in the business world, just as mine had a few years previously. I couldn’t help but chuckle inwardly at her naivety.

“Thanks Dorian,” she stammered, still struggling to harness her stack of rogue papers.

“No problem, I was just heading down to HR to ask about that open position. I’m starting to think it might be my year to move up,” I responded with pride, not having an inkling of the response that was to come. Embarassment clouded her eyes as she searched for the words to respond.

“I, I guess you didn’t hear,” she began, “They’ver already narrowed the selection to two applicants.”

“Who?” I sputtered, indignant.

“Well, um, Angela from accounting,” she stuttered before pausing uncomfortably. “And,” she furrowed her brow in concentration as she searched for the words to continue, “and, um, me. I’m really sorry, Dorian. I thought they’d sent out an e-mail. I know you’ve been here for longer than me, but they’re looking for something younger and fresher.” Her apology continued in a geyser of phrases and syllables, but none seemed to register. If she was aware of what was welling up within me at that point, she didn’t show it because she continued by saying, “I was actually sort of hoping you’d write me a recommendation. I understand if not, but-”

“No problem,” I said without emotion, cutting her off. I watched as she reached over to her desk to pick something up, handing it to me.

“Just a little gift to say thanks. They’re roses,” she said, “fake ones, but I thought that would be better. That way they’ll be beautiful forever,” she said with her characteristic juvenile grin. It took all my strength to muster a smile and thanks in return, and I hurriedly gathered my things for my journey home.

One home, I made the motion to throw the bright pink roses in my bathroom waste bin, but something stopped me. I instead placed them without ceremony in a vase over my toilet. A great reminder of where my dreams were going, I thought to myself with a smirk. As I washed my face, a poisonous seed began to form in my mind. I could steal from that miserable girl just as she had from me. Throwing all morals to the wind, I began to formulate the most scathing recommendation I could conjure. That was the moment I sold my soul to the proverbial Satan of the office world, and there was no going back.

As I looked up in the mirror, I noted with surprise that the roses appeared somewhat brown. Craning my neck over my shoulder, I looked directly at them only to see that they appeared in their original lush, pink visage. I shrugged this disparity off and resolved to check my light bulbs in the morning.

I sat down on the edge of my bed and began my bitter task. I concocted a recommendation peppered with disdain, flavored with accounts of lacking work ethic and infused with “sincere and concerned” doubts of aptitude. Without a second thought, I printed my work, sealed the girl’s fate in an envelope, and went to sleep satisfied and without remorse.

The next morning, I trudged, half asleep, to the bathroom. On seeing the pink roses perched in their usual position, I felt something akin to excitement for the prospect of handing in my carefully crafted letter. As I applied my makeup with care in the mirror, I glanced up to see something that I can never erase from my consciousness. I looked back and forth nearly a thousand times, but the image in the mirror remained the same. The roses, pink and lovely when looked at directly, in the mirror appeared differently. Blackened; wilting; horrible. Terrified, I thrust the accursed flowers into the trash, only for the horrific image to remain still in the mirror. Mortified, I ran to my room and ripped up the letter. However, the seeds had already been sown, and things can never return to the way they were.





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