| A Rose In The Rain
I’ll never forget the way the air felt that night. The way it filled my lungs with a crisp, renewed form of life. I remember each breath in detail, the way I concentrated on pulling it all in…letting it all out. Yes, letting it all out. He used to tell me that was the most important part, because you can only take in so much before you have to let it all out. I know those very words, those very letters just like I knew the raindrops that night. The way they landed on my skin, rolled into my thoughts. Such pure and complex wonders those raindrops were. Just like his words…
Everything was so beautiful that night—the never-ending black skies, the wet grass against my legs, the comforting hum of the storm. Even I felt beautiful, for once. Just like he always said I was. Such a strange night for me to finally believe him…
Everything was very calm, very relaxed. Everything was going so beautifully—the rain, the sky, the earth, the grass, the air, the blood…Oh, god, the blood…And the rose. No. There was no rose. But the sirens.
Oh, yes. The sirens.
The sirens ruined everything.
I pushed my way through the crowded school halls, using my books as a shield. I walked quickly, my strides long and full of purpose. I always liked to be going, to have some sort of goal. Get to class on time. That was my goal. Funny how something so simple can keep me so motivated.
Then I felt something. Something that tickled the back of my neck and made my heart rate burst with adrenaline. Eyes. A pair of eccentric, but magnificent eyes that I shied away from for fear, but at the same time found myself drawn to. I felt them drill through the back of my head and pry at my thoughts…then I cringed as I felt them reach for my inner-most feelings. I didn’t dare turn and meet his gaze. Instead, my pace quickened and I clutched my books tighter. I hurried down the hall I usually used, the one that brought me to class faster…the one that was darker, with fewer people. I immediately realized my mistake when the eyes followed me down the hall. And eventually, the voice followed me, too.
“Slow down, Rose,” he called in a powerful, but gentle voice.
I stopped and turned, bothered by his mistake and determined to correct it. “You must have the wrong person. My name’s not Rose.”
Too late, I realized my own mistake. Oh, the simple dangers of looking into those unusual eyes of his. Those eyes—and his lips, too—were full of some kind of knowledge that I couldn’t grasp. And how that frustrated me! What was it that he knew and I didn’t? The way he taunts me with the power he has over me—that power of knowing. I hated that. That helpless feeling, that being out of control.
To my surprise, he smiled and stepped closer. “You are just like a rose,” he said, as if I should know this already. “Such a beautiful and captivating creature you are to look at, with your exquisite face and lovely movement. But like any rose, you have such wicked thorns of defense and hatred. What is it that you’re trying so desperately to protect yourself from?”
I didn’t know what to say. I was flattered, for sure…but angry, too. How dare he say those things about me! He doesn’t even know me! And yet, it was so…
His lips curved into a slight, teasing smile, and he said in a low voice. “You don’t always have to have something to say, you know.”
The bell rang, loud and echoing in the empty hall we were standing in. Empty and yet so full. It wasn’t even the words we spoke, or the looks we exchanged, but the thoughts we shared and the feelings we exposed that filled that dark and lonely hall. I couldn’t quite place my finger on it, but there was something about him…Something about him was definitely and completely something about me.
“I’m late,” I said, my voice hardly above a whisper. What was it that affected me like this? What was I doing?
He gave a short nod, the little smile still lingering on his face. “Very late.”
I nodded, but didn’t move. “Yes. Very late.” And for a moment—just a moment—I thought I was going to fall into that trap. That horrible, dark hole of risk and unknowing that I never wanted to fall into. That weakness I had seen so many before me encounter, unwilling to free themselves from the cursed deception.
But I didn’t. I straightened my back, pulled my books closer to my chest, and with an upward tilt of my chin, I was on my way to class. And I was very, very late.
That was the day I met the boy who called me Rose. The boy who continued to tell me things about me that I didn’t know, didn’t want to know, or simply didn’t realize. The boy who came to my house one day to tell me I looked like sunshine and the next to tell me I looked like rain. The boy who, when he kissed me, was taking a piece of my soul, loving it, and giving it right back. The boy who loved me for reasons I didn’t understand. The boy who I loved, but was too stubborn, too scared to admit it.
“Love is a risk, Rose,” he used to tell me, “Without risk you have no love and without love you have no life. You see, Rose? You need love.”
“But what if I don’t need love,” I argued, as he touched my face and my hair with passion and adoration in his very fingertips. “What if I’m just fine without it?”
He dropped his hands and pulled away, his face serious. “You’re right,” he sighed, a look of defeat on his face that, for once, gave me a sense of control. “But you need proof.”
I laughed, shrugging my shoulders. “No problem. All you have to do is look at me.”
“No,” he said quietly, “All you have to do is look at me.”
I looked at him, and that’s when I felt it and knew I was wrong. Everything hit me with such a force, I could hardly expand my lungs to let more air in…to let air out. I felt it in my bones, in my blood, in my chest…but what’s worse, I felt it in my head. My head was the strongest part of me, the last place to be affected by such horrors as love. And I had never been so scared. Oh, the things he could do to me! I am so weak with this love, so vulnerable. Because after all, love does nothing but take the very strength from a person’s soul.
“Now,” he whispered, “Tell me you don’t love me.”
I couldn’t let him see it. I just couldn’t let him know the truth. And as I said my next words with such vigor and poison, I thanked the deepest, darkest sin inside of me for my lies.
“I don’t love you.”
And then I left.
When the sirens came, it was as if reality were on its way, wailing with such urgency, such tragedy.
I didn’t want that right now. That was the last thing I wanted. It had taken me so long to realize that my life was filled with nothing but urgency and tragedy. And that night—that spectacular, surreal night—finally made me recognize my fault. In the moment it happened, so quickly and suddenly, I finally knew. It was one of those things that had been right under my nose all along, and when I finally saw it, I realized how stupid I’d been…how blind. Isn’t it strange? I’ve tried so hard not to be blind, not to be weak, or vulnerable, or naďve. And after all my struggles, all my attempts to keep myself protected, I only hurt myself.
But he saved me. Just like he said he would. That night, with the rain, and the sky, and the air, and the earth…he saved my love.
…I remember the glass. The way it sprayed through the air, mingling with the rain. It looked like crystals. Like a grand, magnificent crystal chandelier had fallen…shattered…glass everywhere. Then it hit the ground—the slick, wet road—and skid into the grass. Now beautiful diamonds, sparkling amongst those crisp blades. Diamonds…No. Rubies. Oh, god, the rubies. Rubies crushing beneath my palms, rubbing against my skin. More and more rubies. I had never seen so much red before, so dark and full of feeling.
And when I heard those sirens, when I heard reality announcing its arrival, I finally turned my head to the one thing I had been ignoring, the one thing I did not want to see. Because if I looked, it would be final; it would be fatal.
But I looked anyway.
And there it was. All my proof that I was wrong and he was right, staring me straight in the eye with a look of pain, content, and desire all at once. I suppose he knew all along and was just waiting. I could see it. I could see everything in the glisten of his eyes. It was more obvious than the weather that night, or the reason for the blood.
I loved him.
And just before he died, I crawled over to him, shaking with all the love inside and whispered to him my secret that was never really a secret. Rubies fell from my hair and ran down my cheeks, and he just smiled and said, “Rose.”
…I’ll never forget the way the air felt that night.