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A Perfect Rose
“Do you remember when we first met?” David asked. Rose blushed.
“Of course I remember,” she said. “How could I forget that, David?”
“I bet I remember it more. I remember every single detail. ‘Cause that night, I fell in love.” David looked at Rose. She was smiling in her signature, adorable way. Her head was slightly tilted to the left, her brown eyes crinkled, a small gap appeared between her teeth. It was a beautiful face that David could not live without.
“I remember it better than I remember any other night.” he started. “My friends made me go to that stupid dance, even though I had no one to go with. They danced with their girlfriends all night long. I knew it would happen. I wanted to go drive away, do something that I could enjoy, at least where I could be a part of something. But then, the crowd parted--I swear it did!” he said as Rose interjected with a laugh. He laughed too; the whole thing did seem rather unbelievable. But then again, she was an unbelievable lady. “And in the middle of the dance floor, there you were. With some guy who definitely shouldn’t have been with you. I don’t know who he was, or whether he was nice or not, but he wasn’t allowed to be with you because he wasn’t me, and I knew right then that I was the only guy for you. Well, Rose, I did the sensible thing. I started to march right on up to you. And I was going to dance you and take you by the hand, but--”
“But some stupid girl took your hand? David, I’ve heard this story a million times.” She couldn’t repress her smile as she said it. “Of course... you can, you know, keep telling it...”
“Good! So anyway, she takes me, and wrenches me off my path. And she starts swinging me around and dancing. And I mean, I guess I was flattered that a girl wanted to dance with me, but at that moment, I only wanted to dance with one girl; that stranger under the moonlight. So I twirled this stranger around and let her go and turned to find you, but you were gone. I nearly fell to my knees out of panic.”
“I remember that! I saw you lookin’ around like a child in the mall without their mother. I knew I had to go up and at least have a dance.”
“And then I felt you tap my shoulder, and I turned, and you were there. And by god, for the first time that night, the music stopped. The dancers stopped. My heart stopped. You were by far the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. And you blushed, just like you are right now!” David and Rose both started laughing. She grabbed his hands.
“And then,” he continued. “all of my senses came back. And I could hear the music slowing to a slow-dance tempo. I knew I had to ask you to dance.”
“I can tell you, David, I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone stutter nearly as much as you did when you tried to ask me.” Rose started laughing, and David, trying to hide his smile, tried to pull his hands away from hers. She wouldn’t have it. “Oh, you know I don’t mean it. Stop struggling and finish your story.”
“Well, I don’t care how much I stuttered, once I got it out, you said yes. And we danced. I’ve never been a good dancer, but at that moment I didn’t care. People could laugh at me all they wanted, but I was happy. You were so beautiful, too.
“Then, once the dance ended, I remember taking you up the hill next to us. And it was the most beautiful night out, not a cloud in the night sky. The stars were everywhere! And the moon was a perfect crescent, like a fingernail just hanging in the sky.”
“Oh David, you’re so romantic.” She faked a swoon. David tried to pretend to be mad, but pretty soon he was gasping for air between laughs.
“It was such a beautiful night, regardless of how I describe it. You know it was. And I turned to you. I asked what your name was, and you told me, and your voice warmed my heart. And a strand of your brilliant black hair had fallen across your face. So I brushed it behind your ear and said ‘Well, Rose, I’m gonna marry you one day.’ And then we had our first kiss.”
“It really was romantic... I love that story, David. I wish it hadn’t ended so soon.”
“Yeah, the night ended a little bit too quickly for my liking too.” The smile on Rose’s face had disappeared, replaced by something like pity.
“You know what I mean, David.” He was silent. “You can’t keep pretending. October fourth? You know.”
“October fourth? What do you mean? Look, forget that. Let’s talk about the second date.”
“David, we’ve already talked about the second date, the third, the fourth, all of them. Every single moment, every single kiss. And they were all equally fantastic, they were. But they only led up to that one day. October fourth.”
A woman walked down a hallway and turned into the observing room. In it was a man with a board and a window that looked into another room. She went up to the man.
“What’s been going on? Any progress?” The man with the clipboard turned to her.
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Jones. None at all. He’s been saying just as much as usual. The same things. The first date, the second date, the third, the fourth, all of them. Every single moment. And then there’s silence. And then he responds to whoever he’s talking to. I really think the trauma was too much for him. I think your son is gone, Mrs. Jones. I’m sorry.” She didn’t meet his eyes. Tears flowing down her cheeks, she stared through the window into the room where David sat alone.
“Rose, I don’t know what you mean.”
“Yes you do, David.” She didn’t raise her voice. “October fourth. The day we parted with each other. Do you want to tell that story, or should I?” There was a long silence. “Very well, David... We were on a date. The sixteenth one, I think. We were having a great time. You were wearing a green t-shirt, and I was wearing a red one. We went and had lunch, and then we went home and watched a movie. It was so nice. We were lying on my couch, just watching the movie. It was so relaxing. I just thought I’d close my eyes for a second, just take a quick rest. Please don’t cry, David.” After a long pause, David spoke.
“I looked at you and saw you were resting. So I wanted to let you sleep. I didn’t know anything was wrong. I waited for the rest of that movie, a whole hour and a half, to try to wake you. But you wouldn’t wake. Your beautiful eyes stayed closed. When they lifted you onto the stretcher, you didn’t even budge.
“They wouldn’t let me come with you. I begged and begged, but they made me stay there. I drove right behind the ambulance all the way to the hospital. Once they got there, I saw them take out the stretcher. It was covered in a white sheet. And that’s when I knew.” David sobbed. Rose said nothing.
“They had you in a room, I guess they still thought they had a chance. They let me in there, but they told me to say what I needed to say now. I couldn’t say anything. I just looked at you on the bed. I held your hand and thought back to that one night. I told you I was gonna marry you, and I fully intended to keep that promise. But now... well, what could I do? I just stood there, speechless.” Rose was still silent, her eyes closed, her hands still in his.
“The doctors told us later about what had taken you. I didn’t understand what they said. But they said that if they could’ve gotten to you earlier, you would’ve had a chance. You would’ve been okay. You would’ve married me. It’s my fault. Now, we can’t get married. We can’t kiss again. We can’t see each other. All because I didn’t call in time. And now... now, here I am, talking to myself in a test room.” David looked down at his empty hands. He lifted his head, praying that he would see Rose, that it was all a crazy story, that he could kiss her just one more time. But he was alone.