Rose | Teen Ink


July 14, 2019
By JustAnotherRandomGirl SILVER, Ladoga, Indiana
JustAnotherRandomGirl SILVER, Ladoga, Indiana
9 articles 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter

Before Cherry High, I had little interest in others’ matters. I wasn’t the type to stick my nose in other people’s businesses; rather, I preferred focusing on my own matters. The only people I cared about existed within pages filled with glorious words. My books were my only companions, and they were the only ones I ever needed and wanted. After all, who could care about anything else when you had unlimited access to countless worlds filled with wonder and splendor far away from this one in which too much stupidity and ignorance existed?

However, that all started to change in a chance encounter in the library. My eyes were scanning through the endless number of books, attempting to ascertain which one I would choose. The choice seemed impossible - honestly, I wished I could just check them all out at once, but unfortunately, that would never happen since no one else I’d ever met seemed to have the same reading capacity as me. I settled with an interestingly titled book called The Book Thief. 

That was when I noticed someone in a white dress standing behind me, waiting patiently, not even a hint of an impatient scowl on her pale, heart-shaped face. I could instantly tell she was one of the popular girls by how perfectly smooth her skin was, how luxuriant her captivating cascade of red hair was, and how slender her body was. Honestly, she looked just like those girls you’d see on magazines. Well, there was one difference: her eyes. Her eyes were a dark blue, the darkest blue I’d ever seen, and there was something...something in them that I’d never seen before in my entire life. They looked like the eyes of someone who’s seen everything and obtained all the knowledge in the world. I felt that if I looked into her eyes long enough, I’d find the answers to life’s greatest questions. 

I shook my head to clear my thoughts. “Do you need something?” I asked. 

“You can take your time,” she said with a silvery voice that seemed magical somehow. 

“Nah, I’m done anyway,” I said with a shrug as I moved out of her way. 

She nodded, smiling. It was a smile that threatened to light up the whole room. However, it seemed slightly off, as if it was using artificial light rather than natural light. It seemed more like something rehearsed - it was as if she’d practiced this so many times to get it right - and her act surely would’ve convinced anyone else. However, despite noticing this oddity, I dismissed it and checked out my book.

Once I was done, I was walking out the door when I heard the girl say, “Check out, please.” 

“Of course,” I heard the librarian say. 

“Thank you, Mrs. Ward,” the girl replied as if she’d poured her heart and soul into those simple words. 

“Thank you, Rose,” the librarian replied pleasantly. “It’s always a pleasure.”

I took a casual glance behind me, and for a second, our eyes met. Her eyes seemed like a pathway into another world, and they gave me the same sense of wonder I’d always gotten from reading. Then I saw something that threw me for a loop: something I did not expect. Deep in the depths of the beautiful ocean in her eyes, I saw something that didn’t belong there: a dark sorrow that just didn’t fit with the rest of her - imperfection in the midst of perfection. 

Unnerved, I hurried out of the library and pulled out a folded slip of paper from my pocket: my schedule. I unfolded it and looked at its contents, choosing to forget what had occurred less than a minute before. My first class was English. I grinned slightly, glad that my day was going to start out easy. The moment I entered the class, I felt everyone’s intrigued eyes on me. After all, I was the new girl, and new things were always intriguing. I ignored them, uninterested in their first impressions of me, and headed straight for an unoccupied seat at the back. The moment I was seated, I started reading The Book Thief, unable to wait even a second to start devouring its contents, my eyes starving for the magic that words brought me. 

I looked up as the door opened again. I raised my brows slightly when I saw the girl - Rose. She walked with a natural elegance and grace. To my surprise, she sat down right next to me, even though there were several other seats available. I shrugged and returned to my book. 

“Hey, Rose, how was your summer?” a girl whispered loudly to her. 

“It was fine, thank you,” Rose replied with a small smile. “What about yours?” 

The girl started rambling about something involving mountains and skiing. Rose nodded several times and listened intently, as if every word the girl was saying interested her greatly, as if she was holding on to every word. This encouraged the girl to continue for a good ten minutes. It probably would’ve gone on longer if it hadn’t been for the bell. During all that time, I noticed that Rose hadn’t said a single word about her own vacation. Maybe it was because that other girl had been talking nonstop. Yet something told me there was a different reason - what it might’ve been, I didn’t know, but something within me was convinced of its existence.

“Good morning, students!” the thirtyish teacher boomed in a loud, jolly voice as he strode into the room. He was wearing khaki shorts, an orange Hawaiian shirt, and loafers. He had this big, goofy smile on his face. “How was summer?”

“Great!” the class clamored in unison...well, except for me, as I was focused on my reading. 

“Alright!” he exclaimed joyfully as he picked up a piece of blue chalk and started writing on the board. “I’m Mr. Freeze, and yes, Batman is my arch nemesis.” The class roared with laughter, but I barely noticed. After all, I wanted to know more about this Liesel girl, as well as this embodiment of death. “When I take attendance, I’d like you to stand up and say one thing about yourself. It can be anything, anything at all.”

I shrugged and continued reading. I could feel someone’s eyes on me, and I glanced up. Rose’s eyes and mine met for a second before she turned away. In that brief second, I saw that dark sorrow again, but this time, it seemed a shade lighter, as if it had been illuminated slightly by something. I dismissed it as my imagination and continued reading. 

A few minutes passed, but I hardly noticed. I was too absorbed, soaking up the book’s contents like a sponge. I looked up as that feeling of being watched arose once more. I saw that everyone’s eyes were on me. I then realized it was my turn and rose. 

“Uh, hi, my name’s Dawn, and I like to read,” I said quickly, impatient to return to my reading. 

It was less than a minute later when Rose’s turn came. Interested in whatever she might’ve had to say, I placed my bookmark in my book, awaiting her response with unusual curiosity. Like I said before, I normally didn’t care about other members of the human race.

“Hello, my name is Rose, and I almost died once,” she said with a radiant smile. 

I blinked in surprise while the classroom exploded with laughter. I didn’t expect dark humor from someone like her. No one other than the teacher and me looked surprised, so I figured this wasn’t unusual behavior from her. For the duration of the remainder of the class, I couldn’t stop wondering why she’d made such a bizarre statement and why everyone thought it normal. 


Later that day, I was at my locker, rearranging my textbooks, notebooks, and folders from other classes, when I saw out of the corner of my eye someone leaning on the locker beside me, staring intently at me.

“You’re the new girl, right?” she said with a grin, her words slurred a bit. I gaped at her, bewildered. By God, was she drunk?! “Just a little tipsy,” she replied with a wink, acknowledging my baffled expression. “Anyway-” She then laughed at some unknown joke. “Oh, right, you’re wondering how the heck no one’s noticed.” She leaned in closer, a bit too close for comfort, and hissed excitedly, “You’d be amazed at how much stuff people can miss. I mean, really, they don’t pay too much attention to anyone besides themselves.” She then chuckled, the sound humorless, as her eyes grew bitter, but her unnatural smile persisting. “Humans are a pretty apathetic bunch, don’t you think?”

“What do you want?” I asked, not interested in any philosophical comments she might have had on the human population.

“I just wanted to know if you know all that much about Rose. You know, Rose Whitaker?”

“Yes, I know her…” I said, my brows furrowed, wondering where this conversation was heading.

“What do you know?” she demanded, her eyes gleaming with some sort of manic enthusiasm. 

“Not much,” I replied. “Except-”

“Except she almost died once.”

“How did you-”

“Everyone at school knows that. Whoever meets her, the first thing they hear apart from her name are those four little words. And of course, everyone here has met Rose. Everyone doesn’t not meet her. It’s a simple, unspoken rule here at Cherry High. If you’re going to go here, the one thing you must do is meet Rose.”

“That sounds a bit exaggerated,” I replied, annoyed that this buzzed fool was wasting my time. “I don’t think anyone can be that popular.”

“Maybe,” she said with a shrug. “Then again you’ve never met Rose. She’s the definition of perfect. She’s in every single club and sport we have, she devotes her all of her extra spare time to charities, she’s top of her class, and of course, you know how beautiful she is. She’s good at everything, loves everything, and looks good doing everything. And even better, she doesn’t even realize her perfection, which adds even more to it.”

“There’s no way,” I scoffed. “It’s impossible to be perfect.”

“Well, I guess Rose is a living and breathing impossibility,” the girl said with a shrug. 

“That doesn’t even-”

“Got to go,” she said as she took a water bottle out. It looked like water, but when she gagged after taking a large swig from it, I soon realized with disgust that wasn’t the case. “Bye,” she said as she scurried off to whatever her next class was. 

“What kind of place is this?” I muttered under my breath as I headed off to class. After all, I kept thinking how silly and unreal this all seemed, as if this belonged in some cheesy sitcom. Especially all that bit about Rose being “perfect”! No one was perfect. That was impossible. “Honestly! I’m surrounded by simpletons!”

Well, I guess Rose is a living and breathing impossibility. 

Nonsense! Absolute nonsense! 


As I lay awake in my bed later that night, I couldn’t stop thinking about what that tipsy (I still couldn’t get over that appalling fact) girl had said. 

She’s the definition of perfect. 

Well, I guess Rose is a living and breathing impossibility. 

How absurd! That was just crazy talk, plucked from the bizarre imagination stemming from her buzzed mind. That was all! In fact - 

“In fact,” I said aloud, “I’m going to prove that girl wrong. All of them wrong. Everyone may think her perfect, but I’ll prove she’s not. After all, it’s impossible for anything perfect to exist in this reality. It’s impossible, and I want those fools to realize it!”


Over the next few days, I observed Rose’s behavior. I didn’t spy on her or stalk her (what kind of indignant person would stoop that low?) I simply took notice of whatever she said and did in class.

Like with our first encounter, she always spoke with that magical, silvery voice, and it never sounded fake. Whenever others - pretty much everyone - talked to her, she always listened with an attentive gaze, never bored with their responses. Rather, their words, no matter how boring, seemed of great interest to her, as if she could listen to them all day. And again, none of it seemed faked or rehearsed. Also, if anyone came to her with a problem, she not only understood it but seemed to know the best solution for it, and every time, it worked. The student she’d helped would come back sometime afterward and give her many thanks. You’d have thought she was some sort of saint the way everyone treated her.

When not in conversation with another student and when in the midst of a teacher’s lecture, she never slouched, put her head in her hand, nor showed any sign of boredom whatsoever. Rather, she seemed completely invested in whatever the teacher was saying. And whenever the teacher addressed the students, she was always first to shoot her hand up, no matter the question, and she got every single question correct. And her answers weren’t short nor of bare minimum either. With each one, she went into full detail, displaying true understanding of each subject, sometimes even more so than the teacher. And from what I’d heard from other students, her grades reflected her discussions in class with straight A+’s. Yeah, not just A’s but A+’s.

I would have liked to think her an arrogant showoff, but then that wouldn’t be true. She never flaunted her clearly high IQ. Instead, she was ever so humble, always blushing whenever someone commented on her intelligence and always saying things like, “Oh, stop flattering me!”. She wasn’t even aware of how intelligent she was and as a result, severely underestimated it. 

This all might have shut me up if one single trait hadn’t persisted with each and every day: that dark sorrow in her eyes. No matter what, it never failed to make its appearance. And this may have been my imagination, but as each day passed, it grew a shade darker. 

I started asking about her homelife, but no one knew much: only that her family was loaded. She lived on the corner of Main Street in a huge, opulent mansion rumored to have an indoor swimming pool, its own private movie theater, a grand ballroom, a large gallery with some of the world’s greatest pieces within, and more. 

Rich, smart, gorgeous, and humble. She was looking more and more perfect with each new bit of information I gathered about her. 

Then when the first day of September rolled around, Rose was nowhere to be seen. It didn’t seem that unusual - after all, she probably just got sick with something. But then another day went by. No Rose. Another day. No Rose. The whole week passed, and still, no Rose. 

Students had whispered words of concern throughout the week. After all, this was the most popular kid in school. She was beloved by all; thus, everyone was worried.

The next Monday, she was back. She was swarmed by students who expressed their concerns, all of which she dismissed with a wave of her hand. “Oh, I’m fine! I was just sick!” 

She then glanced in my direction. It was only for a second, but in that moment, I saw that the darkness had exploded in her eyes, darkening every part of the ocean so that her eyes seemed less bright and duller. It was so obvious, yet no one noticed it. No one except for me. And that was when I realized she was perfect at lying, too.

After the end of my next period, I was eating lunch in the library (I’ve always felt that school cafeterias are too crowded for me). The librarian had gone to a different room to get something (I don’t remember what) when I heard the door open. 

“She’ll be back in a minute,” I automatically said between mouthfuls of my sandwich. “She’s getting something.”

“Why are you eating alone?” a familiar voice asked. 

I swallowed, turned, and saw it was Rose. There was a bit of concern in her eyes, but there was also a strange sense of familiarity. It made me wonder why she’d even asked the question.

I replied, “Too many people.”

“Care for a bit of company?” she asked. 

“Sure,” I said with a shrug. 

Rose smiled, which was radiant like before, but this time, there was no hint whatsoever of rehearsal. Either she had noticed it before and fixed it, or this was truly genuine. Somehow, I knew it was the former. She sat down beside me, and for a good few minutes, there was an awkward silence between us. Finally, she muttered something, too low to be heard properly. 

“Huh?” I asked.

“Oh, nothing,” she replied just a tad too quickly, a detail that would have gone unnoticed if I wasn’t that observant, with a wave of her hand. “Just thinking out loud, I suppose.”

“What about?” I asked. 

A panicked look appeared in her eyes, accentuating the darkness within her eyes. She quickly recovered but it was too late: I’d already seen it. She quickly shifted her gaze away from me, as if that’d erase the whole thing. 

“What are you hiding?” I asked, straight to the point. 

“What do you mean?” she asked, cocking her head. Her feigned confusion was so convincing that I almost believed it. Almost. 

“Earlier today, in first period, when you said you were out sick, I knew you were lying,” I replied. 

“I’m afraid you’re mistaken-”

“No,” I replied firmly. “I’m never mistaken. I know what I saw. And I saw a girl who’s trying hard to be the perfect girl that everyone sees. Now, I want to know why.”

She opened her mouth to speak, but then closed it. She avoided my gaze, confirming that she had indeed been lying. As she turned her head away from me and unconsciously twirled some of her hair on her right finger, something immediately stood out to me. It seemed so obvious that I felt it would’ve been the equivalent stamping “Something’s wrong” on her forehead. There was a large, hideous bruise on her neck that had been hidden by her hair. 

“Who gave you that?” I asked. 

“Nobody. I ran into the door,” she said smoothly. 

“I’m not an idiot like the rest of these simpletons here. You may be perfect at lying, but that doesn’t help you when the other person already knows it.”

“Everything is perfect,” she replied as she turned on the heel of her shoe and walked out of the library without another word. 

I gaped after her in disbelief, and then I pursed my lips in anger. We both knew she was lying, so why didn’t she just admit it?! Just then I noticed a piece of paper crumpled up into a ball lying on the ground. Frowning, I picked it up and smoothed it out the best I could. 

There were four words hastily jotted down upon it: It has to be. 

I hurried outside, but she was already gone. For a minute or two, I just stood there dumbly, unsure of what to do. 

“Dawn? What are you looking at?” I heard the librarian ask as she opened the door.

I shook my head and returned to the library. I responded to her blank expression with a simple, “Nothing.” Nothing where so-called perfection should have stood.


The minute school was over, I rushed out of the building and bicycled over to Rose’s. After several minutes of pedaling furiously, it was in sight. Despite myself, I gaped at the sight of the great mansion as I approached it. It was huge, at least twice as tall as its plain two-story neighbors. I slowly got off my bike and took a few moments to steady my shaky breathing (I wasn’t exactly an athletic person, since athletics had never seemed a necessity to me). 

Finally, my breathing stabilized, and I made my way down the walkway to the front door. The gravel path was lined with black and white rose bushes. The black ones were blooming, but the white appeared a bit wilted. Letting out the nervous breath I hadn’t realized I was holding, I was about to knock on the door when I heard a loud crash from inside! 

I gasped, and then I heard heavy, uneven footsteps coming toward the door. Without thinking, I threw myself into one of the nearest bushes, biting back screams of pain as several thorns dug into my skin, drawing blood. The door slammed open so hard that it banged onto the side of the house. From my hiding spot, I saw the tallest, stockiest man I’d ever seen. He was definitely over six feet tall, and his large, muscular arms looked like they could snap a whole log in half.

“Who’s there?” he growled in a deep, menacing, his lips curved upward in a snarl. 

I covered my mouth to make sure he couldn’t hear my breathing. After all, this intimidating man seemed the kind you would not want to discover that you were trespassing on his property. Heck, he looked like he’d murder if just the look of you rubbed him the wrong way. He finally let out an exasperated but at the same time relieved sigh and slammed the door behind him as he hurried back inside. However, it didn’t close all the way, having rebounded off some little toy in the doorway, thus allowing me to glimpse inside. All I could see was a spiraling staircase several feet away from the entrance and a blue floral carpet. 

After cursing myself for being so stupid, I tiptoed to the front door and, after making sure the coast was clear, sneaked inside. I shut the door as silently as possible. I took a quick look around and immediately noticed several pictures hanging on the wall, each one higher than the last as they ascended the staircase. The one on the bottom showed a seemingly happy family of four - a younger, happier version of the guy from before, a smiling woman who looked as if any movement might break her tiny bones with beautiful red hair tied back in a sloppy ponytail, a solemn, unsmiling brown-haired twelve-year-old girl with freckles and glasses, and Rose, her blue eyes twinkling and devoid of that dark sorrow I’d seen with every encounter with her. I guessed this was taken about two years ago, considering Rose looked around fourteen in the photo. 

I looked to my right and then saw countless fragments of glass. I followed their trail to a beautifully decorated broken mirror lying on the ground. I traced its golden ornate design, fascinated and at the same time saddened, momentarily forgetting everything going on. To think that such a beautiful thing was now destroyed-

“Daddy, no!” I heard a familiar voice scream from upstairs. 

A second later, something crashed to the ground below. I saw an angel treetopper, lying in pieces, before quickly ducking behind a conveniently placed large crate. A familiar figure appeared at the top of the stairs. Rose covered her mouth with horror as she stared at the broken thing with widened eyes.

A large, gnarled hand appeared on her shoulder, and I could tell Rose was struggling to keep a poker face. “You’re my perfect girl, you know that?” her father said in a slurred voice.

“Yes, Daddy,” she replied, and for the first time since I’d met her, her voice didn’t have any of that silvery music to it that I’d gotten so used to. Rather, it sounded broken and defeated. 

“You’re top of your class, you know that?”

“Yes, Daddy.”

“Then tell me: why did you get a B on your science homework?” he asked, his voice sterner now. “Why isn’t it an A+?”

“Science has always been one of my weaknesses,” Rose said, just barely loud enough to be heard. 

I flinched at the deafening sound of a slap. Rose didn’t move, nor did she show any hint of pain. She just stared straight ahead, her eyes dull and lifeless like that of a doll’s. 

“My perfect girl doesn’t have any weaknesses!” her father snapped, placing his other hand on her shoulder and shaking her violently. “She’s perfect, do you hear me?! She’s perfect!”

“Yes, Daddy,” she whispered as he shoved past her and stumbled down the steps, nearly falling several times due to his drunken state. 

He rushed out the door and slammed it behind him. A minute later, I heard a car engine start, and a nice-looking car rolled down the driveway and out onto the street. I waited a few more minutes after it’d disappeared from sight before coming out of my hiding spot. I looked to the staircase and was shocked to see Rose still standing there, not moving a muscle. She was just staring ahead, not really seeing anything, her hand raised to her already bruising cheek. She closed her eyes for several seconds and when she opened them again, she started making her way down the stairs, her gaze fixated on the ground, her eyes completely devoid of life.

Then she slowly walked past my hiding place and into the kitchen. I followed her and watched as she opened a drawer and pulled out a large knife. I widened my eyes, realizing her intent, and rushed forward. 

Tears welled in her now manic eyes as she screamed, “You think I’m perfect now, Daddy?!” 

I grabbed her hand just before she could plunge it into her stomach. I ripped the knife away from her, and she gasped and fell backwards ungracefully on her bottom. She stared at me in astonishment, clutching her heart as if she was about to have a heart attack. 

“W-w-what...w-what are you...h-how…?!”

“What kind of a dumb solution is that?” I snapped, my voice harsher than intended but not really caring about the fact. “I thought you were top of your class!” She burst into tears, and I scowled, annoyed, as I held my hand out. “C’mon, get up already. You look stupid sitting on the ground and bawling like a baby like that.”

Rose blinked several times at me and then shakily reached her hand out and took mine. I hoisted her to her feet. She immediately let go of me and plodded over first to the broken mirror and then to the broken treetopper, seemingly in a trance, as if she wasn’t really here in this reality. Rose began picking up the pieces, and her eyes started welling with tears, and her lips started quivering, wordless whimpers escaping from her mouth. 

“He broke it,” she whispered after a few moments. “This was Mom’s, and he broke it.”

“It’s just a treetopper,” I replied, rolling my eyes at the sentimentality. “Just get a new one.”

Rose whipped her head toward me, and for the very first time, I witnessed an unholy fury blazing in her eyes. It actually made me shrink back a bit. “I can’t ever get one like this! This can’t ever be replaced!” she shrieked at me. 

“O-okay,” I replied, taken aback. 

Never had I imagined someone like Rose being capable of such an explosive anger. Then again, I hadn’t really known Rose. None of us had.

“I’m sorry,” she said after a few moments of awkward silence. “I shouldn’t have raised my voice.”

“Yeah, but I can be an a-” Hold on, did I just get censored?! And no playing it off with interrupting dialogue?! Honestly! “Okay, what’s so important about that thing, anyway?”

“It was from when Mom was a little girl. Daddy’s a strong man, and he’d always lifted Mom up to put the angel on the top of the Christmas tree. Chrissy and I always wanted to do it, but Daddy always laughed and said that it’d always be Mommy’s job, that she was the only one who could do it.”

“Who’s Chrissy?”

“My sister,” Rose explained. Huh. Didn’t know she had a sister. She then turned to the door. I followed her gaze and saw she was staring intently at the toy that had blocked the door from closing all the way and that had allowed me access inside. It was a simply made doll with brown hair and freckles - just like the kid in the family picture. “Last week, she was sent to a mental hospital because she...she…” Rose took a deep breath before continuing, her voice shaky. “She nearly overdosed. She’d never gotten over what happened, and she’d always blamed herself.”

“Blamed herself? For what?”

“Chrissy was in the car with Mom. Mom was taking her to the museum in town, I think - Chrissy always was fascinated with history, so she loved places like that. At some point, they stopped at a gas station because Chrissy needed to go to the bathroom. Just as Chrissy was leaving the restroom, she heard the loud sound of metal clashing with metal outside. She rushed out of the gas station to discover that a car had crashed into Mom’s. A couple minutes later, an ambulance arrived, but they couldn’t do anything for Mom. She’d...she’d died instantly. Ever since, Christine felt that if they hadn’t stopped, if she’d held it for just a bit longer, Mom wouldn’t have died.”

“And then your dad went crazy with grief?” I guessed. 

Rose nodded. “The day after her funeral a year ago, he started going out to the bar and drinking heavily. He’s part of the reason Christine tried to kill herself, because he blamed her for Mom’s death like she did. He always reminded her about it in his drunken state with either his yelling or his fists. I tried to stop him, but...but Daddy’s a strong man. One time he almost...” She rubbed her arm absentmindedly as her sentence trailed off, a painful look entering her eyes, as if she was reliving an awful memory.

I then remembered the first day of class. I almost died once. Holy crap, she hadn’t been joking! 

“So, um, why does he want you to be so perfect?” I asked.

“I think he doesn’t want to accept that Mom’s gone. So instead, he sees me as her - I do look a bit like her, after all - and he wants me to be just like her.”

“And he always saw her as perfect.” 

Rose slowly shook her head yes, and then she burst into tears again. She furiously tried to wipe them away, but they just kept coming. Without warning, she rushed forward and hugged me, quietly sobbing on my shoulder. I stiffened, uncomfortable - after all, I wasn’t used to physical contact from anyone, least of all someone I barely knew. 

“Your arms!” Rose suddenly exclaimed the moment she pulled away from the embrace, taking note of my large scratches from the thorns. 

“I’m fine. Anyway, we should call the police,” I said, pulling out my phone.

“No!” she exclaimed, grabbing my hand and thus preventing me from calling anyone, as a panicked look flashed on her face. “We can’t!”

“And why not?” I demanded, irritated with her foolishness. 

“What will we do after he’s taken away, Dawn? Who’s going to pay for Chrissy’s hospital stay? For school? For college?”

And who’s going to look after you? I thought as Rose continued listing Christine’s needs but not her own. Suddenly, an idea flashed through my mind - a pretty stupid one. Yet I’m going through with it, aren’t I?

“Let go.”


“I said let go!” I snapped. 

She obeyed and watched with a grim expression as I started dialing. She then noticed that I had typed more than three numbers and stared at me, perplexed. I put the phone to my ear and sighed, thinking over and over again how stupid this was. 


“This is going to sound weird.”


“I was wondering…”

“Go on.”

“Is there a chance you could...uh...crap, how do I put this?”

“Just spit it out, Dawn.”

“Hey, Dad, how’d you like to be a foster parent for a while?” 

Rose widened her eyes and gaped at me. She blinked several times, becoming increasingly startled with each one, as if she’d thought each time she closed her eyes, this reality would blink away and reveal itself to be only a dream. Of course, it didn’t. The moment she realized this, she squealed with delight and hugged me tightly, jumping up and down. 

I explained through gritted teeth to my dad the situation, growing more and more uncomfortable as each second passed, and Rose was still clinging to me like some kind of parasite. I seriously wasn’t used to hugs. 

He finally answered with an unexpected yes. “Really?” I asked, puzzled. I hadn’t expected him to comply with such a strange request. 

“Well, yeah. There’s no way in heck I could say no, not after what those girls have been through.”

“Thanks Dad,” I replied before hanging up. 

I silenced Rose before she could say a single word of thanks. “I was looking for a math tutor anyway. You move in for a while and you make me better at math. Deal?”

Rose grinned - the first true grin I’d seen from her. Sure, it was a bit toothy, but it was imperfect, and no one could ask for anything better. Suddenly, it vanished as quickly as it’d appeared, and she shoved me behind the crate. I was about to ask what the heck was wrong with her when the door slammed open. 

Rose’s father rushed inside and hurried into the kitchen. I quickly moved to the other side of the crate to avoid being seen when he came back out. A few seconds later, he headed toward the door with a wallet clutched tightly in his hand. His hand landed on the doorknob when suddenly, he froze in his tracks. 

“Are you wearing perfume?” he asked in a low, quiet, but still menacing voice. 

I then remembered how I’d ducked into the rose bushes and how Rose had embraced me. I bit my lip to keep any nervous noises from coming out. 

“Yes, I am, Daddy. Do you like it?” Rose replied smoothly. 

“It’s fitting,” he said with a small smile, his eyes softening for a moment before going out the door once again.

I nearly collapsed with relief. God, I was done with close calls. That was for the movies, not real life!

“I’m sorry for pushing you,” Rose apologized. 

“Probably saved my life. Now, let’s get out of here.” 

I was nearly at the door when suddenly, it slammed open. It sent me stumbling into the wall behind the door with a thud, and I bit back cries of pain, tears welling in my eyes. 

“Now, wait a minute! Why are you wearing perfume?!” her father roared as he stomped inside, slamming the door shut behind him. He lifted Rose by the collar of her shirt and gave her the most menacing look I’d ever seen in a man. “Is it for some boy? You know perfect girls don’t go running around with boys! You know-”

“I just wanted to smell nice for school, Daddy!” Rose shrieked, panicking, her words rushing out in a torrent. “It’s not for any boys! I swear, Daddy, I swear! I don’t run around with boys! I don’t! I don’t!”

Her father released her, and she sunk to the ground. He then turned to open the door and head out once more when his eyes fell on me. My mind went into panic mode, and my face went white. 

“Don’t run around with boys, huh?” her father growled, not once taking his eyes filled with murderous, drunken rage off me. 

Oh, crap. I always wore baggy shirts (because I didn’t care about looking fashionable), and I was kind of flat-chested. Plus, my hair had been cut pretty short this year so I wouldn’t have to spend so much time brushing it. And in his drunken state, I highly doubted he was able to notice my feminine facial features, and it certainly didn’t help that I wasn’t wearing any makeup. 

Suddenly, he grabbed me by the neck and hoisted me into the air. He then pinned me to the wall and started squeezing. My hands flew to my neck and clawed at his giant hand, to no avail.

“Daddy, stop it!” Rose screamed. I started kicking my legs out at him, trying desperately to force him to release me. A choked noise escaped from my mouth as he tightened his grip. “Stop it!” Her screaming soon became fainter and fainter as my vision became spotted with black. “STOP IT!” 

I fell to the ground like a sack of potatoes. I coughed and spluttered. I shakily rose to my feet, wondering what the heck just happened. That’s when I saw a wooden chair lying on the ground in pieces. I glanced at her father, whose back was bleeding and who was now shaking his daughter violently. 

“You little brat!” he screamed in her face. “Perfect girls obey their fathers!” Perfect girls...”

I moaned slightly, barely aware I’d made the sound. Oh, God, I felt so, so dizzy… I vomited, which made me want to scream. What agony! It hurt just to breathe! My windpipe must’ve been damaged. Somehow, I was able to ignore the pain enough to focus on the situation before me. 

Rose was hanging limp in her father’s arms, but he didn’t notice. He was still shaking her angrily. By God, he’s going to kill her! I thought fervently to myself, looking around dazedly, trying to focus on something to help. Crap, what do I do? What do I do? I then spotted the broken glass from the mirror. I stumbled over and snatched up the largest piece. 

With a rush of adrenaline, I ran toward him and plunged the piece of glass into his back. He howled with pain and turned to me with a savage fire blazing in his bloodshot eyes. He released his daughter, and she fell to the ground with a dull thud, unmoving. Oh, God, was she dead?! 

I then widened my eyes with fear as I faced down the feral monster before me. I tried to back away, but instead, stumbled backwards and fell to the ground. After I twisted around so that I was lying on my stomach, I tried to get up, but I felt something heavy hit my back: his boot. I cried out in pain as he kicked me again and again, fueled with endless, drunken rage. Countless kicks later, I heard several deafening cracks sound, and I screamed as tears of hideous pain streaked down my cheeks. 

Then by some miracle, I heard sirens blaring in the near distance. Rose’s father stopped and moved away from me. A few seconds later, I heard him run outside just as a man yelled, “Arms in the air! Now!” 

A minute or two later, two, maybe three men barged into the mansion, guns in hand. I felt one of them pick me up before I blacked out. 

I awoke with a start. I sat up abruptly and looked around wildly, unable to drive the image of Rose’s father kicking the crap out of me out of my mind. Of course, he wasn’t anywhere to be found. As my panicked breathing slowed, I realized that I was in a hospital cot. I looked to my left and started when I saw Rose lying in a cot, a brace around her neck. She was unconscious, and for a second, I had the horrible thought that she was dead, but then I saw her chest rising and falling. I then thought of the wilted white roses on her lawn. Wilted, but not dead. 

Rose, you may be wilted, but you’re not dead, I thought to myself with a smile. 

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