Photo Credit: Infomastern (Flickr)
By Bri Stanford
The moonlight shone brightly on the black rosebush that sat in the windowsill of the small, two-bedroom apartment Lily-Ann called home. Her favorite color was black, but she seldom displayed it. She mainly put hints of black on certain things like her coffee table and the throw pillows on her couch. She sat in the rocking chair positioned in the corner of the room, giving her a perfect angle at which to see the shine of the light on the black petals. One particular flower caught her attention and drew her eye to the center of the bush. There, rising above all the other roses, sat a brilliant magenta rose, flashing it’s beautiful color in the moonlight.
Lily-Ann stared at the rose; mesmerized by its glory and beauty, though confused at how she had it noticed it until now. She watched her rosebush every night, and yet, never saw it till now. She stared at it for a moment, and then focused her attention to the drawings that lay scattered on the table next to her. Only two months ago, Lily-Ann had been accepted into the ‘School of Art and Design’ in New York and had immediately moved to the busy city to pursue a career in the art world. Absent-mindedly, she gently moved her fingers across the papers, feeling each grain and every roughed pencil line.
A thought suddenly struck her, and she averted her eyes back to the rosebush. Had the rose always been there? Could it be an omen? Bad luck? These thoughts racked her mind, eventually making way for darker thoughts to rise. Could it be a curse? Or is it a blessing?
The multiple knocks at her door put her rambling thoughts to a halt and she looked at the door, and then at the digital clock that sat perched on the wall across from her. 2:46 am sat in plain black letters next to the date. Who could be here this late? Slowly, she stood and made her way to the door, peeking through the peep-hole to see who could be stopping by at this hour; the only thing on the other side of the door was Aki, a tall half-Japanese, half-American who was in the same field as her but was 25 points away from flunking the course. After a sigh, Lily-Ann undid the chain-latch and opened the door, allowing him to enter her apartment.
Aki stood 5’8” and weighed roughly 130 pounds, but that was mainly muscle. He and Lily-Ann were both the same age of 20 years and both had pitch-black hair. He had hazel eyes and wore a flannel shirt over a muscle tank top and blue jeans. On his feet, Lily-Ann saw he was wearing the shoes she had bought him when he gave his shoes to a homeless man a few weeks earlier. She silently ushered him in the living room and led him to the couch.
“What are you doing here? IT’s late,” she said, heading in to the adjoining kitchen. As she spoke, she filled a kettle with water and placed it on the stovetop.
“I thought you could use some company. You’ve been rather quiet lately. I don’t like it,” he replied, tossing his duffle bag on the floor by the door and then joining her in the kitchen, taking two mugs from the cabinet.
She watched him closely, studying his body stature. He was always a good life model and he never complained. Lily-Ann gave the boy respect and he returned it without any problem, he even started teaching her his native tongue and culture. He was a great guy and he always held his head high. If only I could be like Aki, she thought.
As she placed a tea bag in each mug, the kettle started to whistle and she turned to grab the handle, missing entirely and touching the kettle itself. “Damn!” she yelled, yanking her hand back and clutching it to her chest.
Aki grabbed her arm and gently tugged it. “Let me see it.”
Slowly, she held out her hand to him and he gently took it. The tips of her fingers blistered horribly and her slowly placed them under the faucet head, turning on the cold water. Lily-Ann gritted her teeth and let out a slight groan. Aki gently held the tips of her fingers under the cold water, careful to not pop the blisters. After a minute, he wrapped the hand towel around her hand and led her into the living room.
“Here, have a seat and I will finish up. Okay?” Aki motioned for her to sit on the couch. She listened; she was in too much pain to argue. Lily-Ann pulled her knees up to her chest and watched him bustling behind the counter, pouring both cups of tea and grabbing a small pack of crackers from the food pantry.
Carefully, he carried them over to the coffee table and placed them on the table, taking his seat next to her.
“Thanks, Aki,” she said as he handed her a mug and picked up his own.
“No problem. I’m always happy to help.”
She clutched her towel wrapped hand to her chest and watched him as she sipped her tea. He was so calm and collected, it was hard for her to imagine him if he was angry; she shuddered at the thought.
Aki’s sudden words confused her and she cocked her head, waiting for him to continue. “What is it?” Lily-Ann asked, following his eyes over to the windowsill.
“Your rosebush, you have a magenta rose.”
She sighed, “Yea, I do. I just now noticed it too.” She looked from the flowers to him. “Why is that odd?”
“It’s just,” he paused, thinking. “My rosebush at home, it is all magenta roses, but there is one that’s is completely black and stands out above the others.”
She looked at the rosebush. “What does it mean?”
“It means that we were meant to be. Think about it, we both go to the same school, we are in the same field, we have the same classes, and we have almost the same personalities. Lily-Ann, the roses are a blessing.”
As he spoke, Lily-Ann couldn’t help but think he was right. Why else would he have a black rose in a magenta rosebush? If this was a blessing, does that mean that her and Aki belong together? Had they been together in a different life? These racing thoughts brought only one question to light.
“Do you love me, Aki?”
He watched her then took her hand in his and held it to his lips. “Does this answer your question?”
Slowly, he leaned in and kissed her, passionately and lovingly. They had been together for years and they would stay together. Forever, until the end.
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