|Photo Credit: gypsypurplefashion.tumblr.com|
I said I did not want the roses. But he sent them anyway--a dozen long stemmed roses after every show. I tried giving them away, dumping them in the trash. I threw them at him once, when my temper flared as red as the scattered petals.
But he will not stop.
He lingers until the rest of the cast is gone, until the theatre is empty, but for me. I stay late to practice my lines on stage, when the chairs are empty, when my words echo through the auditorium. I close my eyes and imagine it's only me.
But he watches from the wings. I hate that he is there.
He always includes a card with the roses, two words scrawled on one side: With love. The words make me sick. Anything from him would make me sick. He laughs when I tell him. He thinks I'm joking.
I never joke.
But I'm taking the roses home now. I've found a better use for them. I'm lobbing off the tops and hanging them upside down, leaving only the thorny stems. I'm letting them fade to brittle, dried-out sticks. When a hot wind blows through the windows at night, they rattle like bones.
He says I owe him. He made me a star. Before he found me, I was nothing. Without him, I'd be nothing again. I'd rather be nothing, than surrounded by roses and him.
I brought them with me tonight, tucked into a brown bag under my dressing table. I wait for everyone else to leave, and step out onto the stage to practice my lines. I know he's there. I can feel his eyes on me, hear the slow slosh of liquid as he downs the last of the red wine.
I take my time, until his chair creaks and the bottle falls with a clatter. Through a gap in the curtain, I see he's passed out. Quietly, I lay the stems across the dusty stage floor, under the hem of the red velvet curtain. I strike a match. The black thorns sizzle and pop.
My heels click through the deserted halls of the darkened theatre, smoke trailing in my wake. Behind me, I hear a man's primal scream. I slip out the door and lock it. The rest have already been barred. I lay a dozen roses across the final latch.
Dear friends, this is my third attempt at flash fiction. The lovely Anna Meade (@ruanna3) of the enchanting Yearning for Wonderland blog announced the Behind the Curtain Flash Fiction Contest a few days ago and I could not resist entering. Scarlet's Rose Petal Revenge (398 words) is darker than my usual writing, but with Halloween around the corner it seemed fitting to add a touch of darkness. I'd love to hear your thoughts.