Entertainingly Evil
16
Jun

Roses are Forever By Rebecca Fung

“May I help you?” asked the saleslady.

“I’m looking for something for a girl … well, you know. She’s kinda special. Something different. Not your usual roses and chocolate bullshit. Though she does like roses,” said Milton.

“That’s something to work with,” said the saleslady. “All our items are very special. Just ask.”

“What about that rose in the window?”

It was a tall glass vase with a long-stemmed rose standing straight, deep red petals. “Isn’t it beautiful? A specially biologically-enhanced rose. Look at the velvety texture of those petals. She’s been engineered to be extra sturdy and need no maintenance. You don’t need to change its water because it doesn’t need watering. It takes in its surroundings and adapts to them.”

Jeannie would love it. She was always so busy; she didn’t have time to look after plants. It was perfect.

#

“Oh Milton, how thoughtful!” Jeannie cried. She kissed him, gently, lingering. As she pulled away her eyes promised him more to come that night. “I’ll just water it and set it on the mantelpiece. I want to really show it off.”

“No water needed,” said Milton. “That’s what the lady in the shop told me. It’s a special rose. It looks after itself. That’s why I bought it.”

“Because you know I’m crummy with flowers?” teased Jeannie.

“Because it’s like you. You’re a woman who knows how to look after herself, I like that.”

She smiled. “Very smooth. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a rose so perfect-looking.”

“Again, why it reminded me of you.”

“Oh, Milton! Well, I guess it’s our first anniversary, keep them coming!”

Jeannie turned around and blew two kisses to the rose as they left the house for dinner.

The rose was very good, much better than Milton had expected. He had thought a long-lasting rose might last a few weeks or months, even, at the most. After all, an ordinary rose barely lasted a couple of days, especially in the hands of Jeannie. But five months later and the rose was just as perfect-looking as it was the day he had bought it. Perhaps even more perfect.

“I think the petals have grown a little larger,” mused Jeannie, fondling them. “They still smell so sweet! What do you think?”

“I’m not sure,” said Milton. “But at least we’re getting our money’s worth. Do you dust this flower? In between all the petals?”

“Of course not,” said Jeannie. “That would take all day.”

Milton ran his finger over the mantelpiece. There was a thick layer of dust which had collected from weeks of neglect. But the rose had not a speck on it.

“The rose nods to me when I come home from work,” said Jeannie. Milton laughed at the idea. But two years later, when he moved in with her, he felt its little petals waving goodbye in the morning and greeting him in the evening. The rose became part of his routine. It signalled to him if he’d forgotten his keys and a sniff of its fragrance reminded him of meetings. It was the perfect symbol of household happiness and happily served them both.

“It’s remarkable,” said Jeannie. “After all these years, good as new. I’ve never had to do a thing with it.”

“I’m glad you like it,” said Milton. He couldn’t help noticing Jeannie’s hair looked brittle and dull and she was gaining a bit of weight around the midriff. He might get her a gym membership this year. The rose, though, still looked slim and gorgeous.

Maybe Jeannie saw that look in Milton’s eyes. Or maybe it had nothing to do with it at all.

Several years later Jeannie said she was sick and tired of Milton, the relationship, everything.

“I don’t want to work out anything. Don’t you get it, Milton?” she exploded. “Stop looking at me, stupid rose. Stop waving your petals! So bloody judgmental! I hate you. I don’t have any problems.”

“Everyone has—” began Milton.

“I don’t,” said Jeannie. “I know what I want. I want to get out of here.”

“You’re giving up to easily—” he tried again.

She shook her head. “You’re idealistic, Milton. We stayed together while it was good. But it’s not any more. You shouldn’t cling to something forever for the hell of it. I’m not going to ruin my life that way, anyway, that’s for sure.”

“It’s another guy, isn’t it?”

“How dare you!” But she didn’t deny it. Milton felt something dark curl and tighten in his stomach, watching Jeannie pack.

She took her other bits and pieces, but she left the rose behind.

#

The rose stood on the mantelpiece, reminding him of Jeannie. That was her posture. Mocking him. But he wanted to purge his entire memory of her. As long as memories of her were around, he would feel sick.

I’m still here, you can’t get rid of me, my dear.

Bloody rose! He took a swipe at it. The stem bent, but sprung back, straight and perfect as ever.

Did you think you could get rid of me?

Milton spluttered. The rose looked back at him, challenging him. Milton grabbed a pair of scissors and snipped the flower off. Thank God it’s gone, he thought. He poured himself a drink.

What was that?

Redness was forming at the top of what was left of the stem. The scarlet grew and he could see petals pushing their way through the top of the greenness.

“No! Go away!” As long as there was a rose, the sickness wouldn’t leave his stomach. But the rose was already full, each perfect soft, deep red petal daring him to try again.

He tore each petal off, tossing it into the air like confetti, then he grabbed the stem and pulled it out of the vase and tried to snap it in half. Damn! Out came the shears again, snip, snip, snip, into tiny little pieces, and ground each under his heels, cursing.

Little bits of green and red were worming across the floor, bits of stem joined other bits of stem, petals joined other petals and the dirty, crushed pieces shook themselves and were plump, clean and strong again.

Milton looked on helplessly.

You’ll never be rid of me, Milton. Something should last forever, shouldn’t it?


Rebecca Fung is a legal editor from Sydney, Australia. Her writing interests include fantasy, horror and children’s fiction. Her fiction has been published in Midnight Echo and Trysts of Fate magazines and she is a regular contributor to the “Demonic Visions” anthology series. She has also been published in various anthologies including “Witches, Stitches and Bitches” (Evil Girlfriend Media).





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