I open the door and what does he do? He holds out a beautiful, delicate white rose. Typical. When he anxiously releases the flower above my waiting hand, I let it slide off my palm and watch his eyes follow it to the glass floor. Of course he's startled— they always are when I reject their gifts.
I usher him inside to the largest room and sit him on my baby blue sofa, positioned directly below the glass dome towering far above our heads. From the looks of his face, he's no different from any of the others; mouth agape and eyes wide behind glasses far too big for his head, the guy sits on my sofa in complete shock. He looks ridiculous, cocking his head this way and that, drooling like a malnourished ostrich. It's disgusting.
"You're disgusting!" I cry out, but the man merely blinks twice.
It's the roses. They all love the roses. They could care less about the house, designed mostly from glass, and rarely notice my heavenly beauty. I've given up all efforts to communicate with visitors for a solid hour after their arrival, because there is literally nothing I can do to pry their gazes from my roses. Every single visitor to have walked through my front door has transformed into this stupid, useless, lump of twitchy flesh. It's as if a delirious ostrich's soul possesses each and every man that enters my house. It's disgusting.
So, for the next hour, I sit by my guest on the blue sofa and try not to watch him twitch about. His oversized glasses slip down the bridge of his nose, but I don't push them back into place. I turn my back to him, annoyed.
Oftentimes, it's during this awkward waiting period when I observe the roses myself. They truly are beautiful, and blanket every visible glass surface in my house. The floor has been completely covered on four different occasions; every time the shimmering roses bury the floor, I have glass placed overtop as a way of preserving each layer and making walking convenient.
The vast majority of my roses are sandwiched between these layers of glass, but a fresh layer of brilliant roses is already beginning to fill every empty space on the floor. They creep up the glass walls, drape my dainty furniture, and hang from the sky-high, dome ceiling. There are thousands, maybe millions, of them—just the heads, mind you, thorny stems are dangerous. Where do they come from, you might ask? That's exactly what my guest was sent to find out.
He "wakes up" an hour after he arrived, on the dot. Ignoring his disheveled hair and drool-drenched tie, I drag a faint pink chair (my favorite one) across the floor and plant myself directly in front of his spot on the sofa. "Good morning, sunshine. I don't believe I caught your name?"
Shaking fog from his head, the man collects a pen and notepad from his jacket pocket. At least he remembers that he's got a job to do. "I'm so sorry, it's Rudy Brennan from the News Sentinel," he stammers. "I'm here for the interview we scheduled, I think". Nervously, he adjusts his glasses.
"That you are and I'm ready now. Please proceed as quickly as possible before I walk away, Brennan," I recite mechanically, maintaining hard eye contact with him all the while and giggling inside at how uncomfortable it makes him.
Obviously flustered, Rudy Brennan holds his breath, smoothes his hair, smoothes his hair again, and exhales. He picks up a rose and, still bewildered somewhat from his ostrich-daze, mumbles, "Right. Roses. Okay, well, my main purpose in coming out here is to find out—"
"I am the Queen of Purity!" I roar, rising to my feet. "The Keeper of the White Rose! The Beautiful Giver of Life!"
At first, Rudy doesn't seem fazed. He hardly even moves—he blinks twice and simply stares at me! Annoyed, I take a deep breath and deliver my thundering message once more.
"I am the Queen of Purity! The Beautiful Giver of Life! Do you hear me?"
Suddenly, Rudy nearly throws his notepad across the room, and actually appears to notice my existence for once. I feel his wide eyes sweep over my cream colored skin, pour down the entire length of my silky, white hair, and lock with the terribly vibrant, piercing blue of my irises. Finally. I've got his attention; we can talk about what I want to talk about.
Smiling, I settle back down in my chair. "Personally, I prefer a more humble title. Call me the Garden Goddess—are you getting this down?" Clapping my hands obnoxiously, I double check that Rudy is in fact completely awake and writing. "You're the one who came to me with questions. Come now, stop staring, it's rude. Pick up your pen and start scribbling this all down. I'm very busy and hate this sort of thing, you see."
Rudy obeys. He picks up his pen, scratches some marks into his notebook, and politely waits for me to continue.
"It all began with a beautiful child and a flower. The child was me of course, dainty as a cherub's wings yet spirited as an untamed horse. My mother—horrible woman, mind you—sent me out to play in the garden one morning. The old grouch used to ramble on and on about my skin, and often demanded I spend time outside in hopes of tanning my "disturbing flesh". Oh yes, that's exactly what she called it! Disturbing flesh!"
Rudy looks pained. "No!" he whispers.
"Yes, disturbing flesh!" I shriek.
He eyes my white skin, adoringly, and shakes his head in disbelief.
"You see, I am in fact naturally very pale; the transformation did not affect my skin nor my hair, in contrast to popular belief," I explain. "I was born like this, with skin smooth as porcelain and hair white as mountaintop snow. I have always found beauty in my body's uniqueness, in its total lack of color, but my mother never approved. She hated me."
Although his face is burrowed in the pages of the little notepad, I think I see a tear in Rudy's eye. He's obviously moved by my past, I'll give him that—I don't think I've told my story to a man as emotional as this fellow before me now!
"I couldn't have been more than four at the time, but there I was that day, sent by my mother into the garden in order to soak in some rays—that witch. I tottered through that garden for hours. Hours! Oh, and don't imagine anything pretty and elegant here; that garden was Hell on Earth I tell you!"
Rudy's head snaps up from the notepad and our eyes lock. "Whoa—" I gasp, pausing my dreadful story for a moment as we stare at one another. I was right. He definitely had a tear in his eye before, because he's got streams gushing from his tear ducts now.
Tentatively, I keep one eye on Rudy's unpleasant eyes, crawl to my feet and stand upon my pink chair (for effect), and wail, "Oh, I was lost! It's all coming back to me now! Broken trellises covered in hungry vines chased me! Tall, course grasses swallowed every path and nipped my heals! Storms of white, fluffy seeds swarmed around me in the wind, filling my nostrils and mouth until I could hardly manage a breath! I remember, so vividly I remember now, huge, bloodthirsty thorns screaming my name as I raced every which way! I'll never forget those bloodcurdling screams and how desperately I searched for an escape out of that terrible garden!"
Rudy falls to the glass floor, weeping in sincere agony in a sea of white, glittery roses. I just stand frozen on my chair, dumbfounded, and watch him writhe around in distress. I don't think I've ever been more uncomfortable in my entire life. It's extremely painful to watch, and I have no idea what I need to do next. I don't want to touch him, I don't want to stop my story, and (again, most importantly) I definitely don't want to touch him—not like that.
I manage to say, "Oh my—please sir, please dry your eyes and get back to writing," but Rudy simply chokes on his tears and heaves.
I don't even try at this point. Utterly confused—and extremely disturbed—I simply speak the words to my story as Rudy falls apart beneath my feet. "When I had grown weak from running, choking, and weeping, I gave up. I collapsed, right in the very center of that miserable place—"
"No, no no!" moans Rudy. He pounds his fists against the glass, crushing a few fragile roses in the process.
I have to yell just in order to hear my voice over Rudy's tantrum. "That's when it happened! I didn't realize anything unusual for quite some time, for I was awfully distraught. Yet, gradually an overwhelming peaceful feeling absorbed me. I sat up, completely calm, just to find a bed of white roses where I had laid!"
Rudy, vigorously rolling back and forth upon my glass floor, suddenly lets out one hell of a yell. I wait for him to stop, for it to stop, but the yell only crescendos into a painfully high-pitched scream. Clamping two glimmering roses against each ear, I leap from my pink chair to the glass floor.
Furiously dancing about this impossible man, I demand, "Stop it! Rudy, stop it!" I watch for his lungs to empty or his face to turn purple, but nothing happens—he just screams, and screams, and SCREAMS!
I can't recall the exact moment, but at some point I snap. My ears pound in piercing pain with every heartbeat, and my knees giving way beneath me, and my body shaking uncontrollably once I hit the bed of white roses. I wrap my long, silky white hair about my delicate face in an effort to escape the terrible shrill, but Rudy's scream grows louder with every passing second.
I don't notice when he stops screaming. As far as I'm concerned, he's still screaming—I can hear it now. I am aware, however, of the things he says to me, presumably right before he leaves my beautiful home. He's quiet and calm, and speaks clearly, which freaks me out after witnessing his outrages outburst. I hear something about newspapers, and something about ostriches, and something about getting one's way. He says I am disgusting—I will forever remember that one, clear as a bell—that dirty fiend. When Rudy turns to leave, he mentions the roses—something like "you never explained the roses" and "explain them next time".
"Next time?" I manage to squeal.
He's standing in my doorway now, one hand on the glass doorknob, the other cradling one of my roses. "Next time, Garden Goddess! Prepare your answers, oh Beautiful Giver or Life!"
The front door slams shut, dangerously shooting waves of vibrations through the glass walls and floors. I don't move for at least an hour after he leaves; my roses are so incredibly fantastic, and I find myself completely absorbed in their beauty, twitching every which way with wide eyes to capture every beautiful glimmer from their perfect petals.
When I finally awake from this stupor, I sit up and shake the fog from my aching head. Yanking out the roses stuffed into my ears, I mumble, "Next time—oh dear, what a terrible man. Next time…"
BIO: Samantha Bowsher is a student at the Wright State University-Lake Campus, pursuing a degree in English Literature. Employed at a local coffee shop, she spends her free time writing short stories, reading anything within reach, and doodling aimlessly in her many journals. Her immediate goal is to complete and publish a Science Fiction novel, currently in the works.