The Rose

I’ve decided to share some of my writing here, instead of creating a separate blog dedicated to it. Because art is art. I’ve been writing a series of autobiographical short stories based on a single word. Enjoy!

 

The Rose

He’s dead. Self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. It happened in his car, outside his girlfriend’s house. So that’s why he never returned my call. Before our lunch a couple weeks prior, it had been over 2 years since we had spoken. Ours was a short-lived, troubled, passionate, ridiculous dead-end affair. A Bad Decision. He told me he was crazy. I took his hand, looked him in the eye and said, “I know,” and smiled. More recently, over chana masala, he told me he would rather die than go back to AA meetings. I didn’t know he meant it. Really meant it. Darkness always followed him. That was nothing new. But he was so proud of the tattoo shop he opened. I suppose sometimes demons carry more weight than accomplishments.

His mom told me stories about him as a child, while I played her the song I wrote for him the day before. I touched an old photo of him she showed me and felt an electric shock go through my finger. My lightbulbs started flickering, expanding and contracting light. I saw a vision of myself in a lucid dream wearing a long green dress, saving my young male child from drowning on a beach, centuries ago. His mom told me about the time she pulled him out of the bathtub as a toddler, almost blue. The boundaries of time and space and lifetimes disappeared. Tiny flashes of white light started appearing to me. I sat in a hospital with a friend talking about him, as the elevator doors in front of us opened and closed, expanding, contracting, pulsing rhythmic messages. When we changed the subject, the doors closed and the elevator ascended. I revisited a song I wrote a few months before and saw the lyrics as a subconscious premonition of his death.

Oh, and the hands. The colorful tattooed hands that once gave me comfort, pleasure, made me feel like a queen, if only for a fleeting, frozen moment. His mom said that the police brought his hands to her to identify. Just his hands. Just his hands? Did they cut off his hands, like raw meat? Bring them to her on a platter? In a box? In a specimen jar? I didn’t dare ask. But I always wondered.

I don’t remember where the rose came from. Perhaps I bought it. Perhaps someone gave it to me. It was exquisite. Fleshy pink petals with burgundy tips, the color of dried blood. So exquisite that I didn’t want to miss one fleeting, frozen moment with it. I felt everything in it. Birth, life, resilience, fragility, the pulse of the universe, and the impending inevitability of death. Memento vita. Memento mori.

I took it everywhere. I thought about all the moments we miss with those we love because we know there will always be more time. Do we? Will there? I practiced the art of observing with this rose through all the stages of the life that I, from here on out, shared with it. I let the rose embody the grief that I did not know what to do with. I brought it with me, in a glass bottle to the diner when I ate. It accompanied me to my art studio while I worked, inspiring, my muse. I carried it preciously, like that raw egg that is supposed to be a baby or some such nonsense. I watched it slowly open like a waxing moon until it reached its full, bright glory. Such beauty. I watched its life force dwindle, waning, shriveling, until it became a barren shell. I needed to see all of it. To be present for it, and to not miss out on a single spell of its full magic.

With the last brittle petals still lifelessly clinging to their core, the stem which once bore down deep into the earth, the cycle was now complete. It was time to let go. The rose was now a hollow vessel. A death rattle. I went outside. I watched the petals crumble, almost dust, dancing in the wind, rising, falling, rising, falling, falling, resting. Their job was now to feed the earth from which they came, the earth in which he now lies, they now lie, together.

From bones and blood new roots have sprung
Fauna to flora, you become one.

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