By Savannah Milton
The story of a woman who is willing to ignore many things for her love.
Rose petals on the floor now remind me of the night I found a trail of blood leading to our backyard. It was the first time I saw the real her: bloody, calculated and raw.
I remember her fingerprints on the lifeless man’s neck and her stare. It darkens when she notices me and her eyes dart from me to the door. She is almost daring me to run inside and call for help. To her surprise, and my own, I don’t. My first reaction is not fear but clarity. I am relieved. All this time I thought she’d been cheating on me. One look at the lifeless glassy eyes reflecting moonlight tells a different story.
For a long time I had lapped up excuses like an eager obedient poodle. Whether it was why she wasn’t in our bed in the middle of the night or the series of rugs we went through or even the reason she had the carpet redone last month, I believed her.
I suppose I always knew. All the signs were there, but it’s just as people say: love truly does make one blind. My love for her made me look the other way. Sure, her nightly hobbies weren’t ideal or even legal, but I couldn’t ever break away from her grasp. I loved her and still do, even while seeing the bloodstained picture before me.
I suppose I always knew. All the signs were there, but it’s just as people say: love truly does make one blind.
At least she isn’t cheating on me; something about that seems worse. We stay staring at each other a couple of more minutes, trying to figure out our next steps. Mel goes first.
“Go back inside; it’s cold. I’ll be there in a few.”
Without question, I obey. I opt to wait in the living room and discover a scene of struggle. Our glass coffee table is shattered. Blood stains the rug and broken fragments. My favorite lamp has been thrown into the wall left of the couch. It lies in a mangled heap on the floor.
She walks in and collapses in the chair with her feet crunching on the glass below her. She beckons me forward and I go to sit on her lap, careful not to step on the glass on the floor. She wraps her arms around me tightly. Her grip feels cold, giving me goosebumps. I wind my arms around her neck and stick my chin in the crook of her neck. Her warm breath tickles the back of my neck. I can feel the sigh she lets out on my nape.
“How long has this been happening?”
“Before you came along,” Mel whispers, stroking my back.
“I’m surprised it even went on this long.”
“I am too. I mean, if I figured it out, then you’ve been sloppy.”
She laughs a little.
“Who commits murder here, you or me?” Mel says.
“Well, what does this mean for us?”
I make a small humming noise with my mouth. I can feel her squirm underneath me a little. My quiet sets her on edge.
“I still want you; I want this.” I unlatch myself from her arms and sit up straighter, “My only condition is that you have to do a better clean-up job.”
She takes that moment to survey our destroyed living room. Mel nods and squeezes me a little tighter.
“Does none of this freak you out?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Well, do you wanna help me clean up?”
“I mean, yeah, it’s really messy in here.”
I climb off her lap and hear her footsteps trailing me as I head to the kitchen. It makes me remember the landline phone. Mel probably thought I’d tricked her. She didn’t seem completely convinced that I am okay with this.
“I’m not going to tell on you. I just want the broom for the glass in the living room.”
“How can I trust you won’t? You’re too calm. Why aren’t you afraid?”
“Okay, how about I tell you a secret? That way, we each know something equally damning about each other. It’ll be our fail safe.”
She remains quiet. I take her silence as permission to continue.
“When I was 12, I burned down my parents’ home—with them inside.”
The confession is met with more silence, but I push on.
“I got so angry that I killed them; are you satisfied with that?”
“You’re lying, I’ve met your—”
“My foster parents. We just happen to look alike. Does that make it better?”
“How do I know you’re not lying?”
“Do a background check on me. I thought they would have figured it out. The police just didn’t believe that a 12-year-old was capable. Can we go back to cleaning up now?”
“Yeah, okay.” She goes to the closet to get a rag and bleach for the blood. As we walk back to the living room I sigh, thinking about how we are going to replace the carpet for the second time this month. It’s too bad. I really like this color, too.
This piece was inspired by a prompt I got in an after school writing club. The prompt asked what we thought of when we heard the phrase “rose petals on the floor.” My first thought was blood, and so I opted to write about a murderer, but rose petals are also romantic, so I wrote the story from the perspective of her girlfriend. It was originally over 1,000 words when I got to a place where I was satisfied with it, so when I saw the word count I was nervous about taking away from the piece. However, I feel like cutting it down was a good challenge for me because I am someone who tends to overwrite.
Savannah Milton is a student at Queens College obsessed with and pursuing a history-related degree. Thus, she loves a good historical story. She’s also a lover of fantasy and science fiction, which are her favorite genres to write. When she’s not writing, you can find her nose in a book or a pen in her hand, drawing.
A War Between The Mind & Heartby Shamu Ward