The Rose

Posted by - December 20, 2016 - Issue No. 16.3


The day before we broke up, he gave me a rose. Twenty-four hours from a rose to “I’ll hate you for the rest of my life.”

The rose wasn’t an “I’m sorry” rose or an “I’ll try to make things better” rose or even a “let’s forget it and have sex” rose.   It was just a rose – plucked from the neighbor’s yard, so yes, minimal effort. But still, a rose.

The rose is in a vase on my kitchen window sill, where it catches the morning sun, though I never see the morning sun through that window because I stay up until I can’t keep my eyes open and the sun is about to come up and then I fall asleep because that way I don’t have to lay there in the dark alone and think about how he’s there and I’m here and it didn’t used to be that way.

The rose is white. Since it was plucked from a neighbor’s yard, and the neighbor only grows white roses, I don’t think that means anything. I think if he had the choice, he would have chosen red, because that’s what you do when you buy a rose and don’t put a lot of research into it.   I don’t know what the rose color is for “I’ll hate you for the rest of my life.”

The rose is soft and open like a woman’s body. He once told me the reason he didn’t treat me like a woman was because I didn’t act like one. But I have put the rose in a vase on the kitchen window where it catches the morning sun and I stay awake until dawn so I won’t have to remember that he’s there and I’m here and it didn’t used to be that way. These are women things, aren’t they?

Tomorrow is Sunday and I will clean because I always clean on Sundays. A friend of mine who never married once told me she wasn’t afraid to live alone because it gave her lots of time to clean. She is dying of a brain tumor and tomorrow is Sunday and I am alone and so I will clean. I will look under the couch and at the bottom of the laundry basket and in the crack between the stove and the counter where the bits of rotted food gather and I will try to find the space between the rose and the moment he said goodbye.

Maybe I will look for it at the park. It is Sunday and the park is crowded and I don’t like to go, but the dogs will want to go because they don’t know it’s Sunday. The dogs will find stray tennis balls in the bushes and dried feces to eat and other dogs to sniff. Maybe they will find where the love went.

It didn’t used to be that way


ABOUT THE WRITER: Lydia Shell is a writer, artist and devoted foodie living happily in Topanga Canyon with her dog and her cat. This essay was written when she was sad, but she isn’t sad anymore. Mostly.

Photo © 2007 Anonymous