I’m not as brave as my love, hence her nickname for me, Rosa. Why! The Rosa Sericea is a spiny shrub Deborah discovered in Nepal. She fell in love with this four-petal rose. When she exclaims Rosa, she is usually pissed off at me. At fault, she assumes it is my deciduous nature. She blames me for the stagnancy within our relationship. My stubbornness to profess openly my love for her. In Deborah’s eyes, I am spineless, unlike the Rosa Sericea whose spiny and thin vines support its several white blossoms, effortlessly. They are one of many wonders within God’s creation
I know what others in our lives may think simply because Deborah is 59 and twenty years my senior. She in no way influenced me although I was just seventeen when we first met. Deborah has been a lesbian her entire life. She knows no other attraction. However, it is different for me. Today, my torch for her burns brighter than ever. However, I am not ready to openly display my love – not just yet.
As I drive to our lakeside cabin in the north Georgia Mountains, Deborah is my focal point. For you, my love – a love so uniquely rare much like the rose itself. She would whisper to me. My thoughts resound her reverie as I admire the bountiful array of leaves: oranges, reds and greens foliage of trees that fenced in both sides of the highway. I feel her love reflection in each leaf of every tree.
Deborah has an obsession with roses. It is harmless at best. I am amaze by the way the sight of one elevate her spirits, even in the worst of situations. A rose or its scent would wash away any hardships or trouble she might be enduring at that moment. It is as though she draws relief from it as an addict would derive from a puff of a bong. However, my stubbornness is what, I know she tolerates yet loves because it is a part of me. It is the one thing roses will and could not remedy or subdue. My ability to upset her in my bouts of stubbornness. I could just as easily profess my love to appease her.
The wind strokes my face and dries the tears from laughing so hard – recalling one of our ridiculous arguments. I laugh now but then my actions broke my heart and hers as I stood in awe witnessing Deborah’s extraordinary retort. As I think on it, I clearly hear her whimpers as though she sits next to me now.
That right there honey … will be the death of you one day! She exploded wanting to be heard – to be correct. She was hurt over my in ability to reciprocate when she said that she loved me. I was young and foolish then but time and the relationship has taught me to be a little less selfish.
During this particular disagreement, I had squashed a lady bug then another and another as they crawled along the window sill of her greenhouse. Mad at her – releasing my frustration on them. She was mortified -- my Deborah. She a creature one with nature. Standing before the frosted window panes, she had just pruned a rose for her vase sitting on the small circular table to her left. She knew it was fully matured and would die soon. Then and only then would she remove them from their vines. She unintentionally squashed the rose between her fingers at the sight of the dead bugs. To this day, I still don’t know if it’s the bug or the rose that brought her to such dismay – perhaps both
Deborah did not ride with me this day and would not offer a reason as to why. It is my first vacation without my love next to me. My first thoughts were to her size. Oh how she fusses about her gain weight and is always on a diet. Another one of her obsessions. I don’t mind her soft fluffiness. Actually it’s one of her favored assets in my eyes. The last time we came together was at LaBelle Amie Vineyard at her invite two months ago. She invited a slew of folks. I was, of course, surprise at the invite simply because my Deborah is a very private person. She’d invited people we hadn’t spoken to in years not to mention a few undesirables. Why?
She had lost tremendous amount of weight. She was my size even smaller. It did not suit her at all. Her face -- too full so it sagged somewhat. Deborah looked older now but her body looked amazing. I told her so because it is what she wanted to hear but mostly to win back her affection. She had been distant in our relationship and unable to communicate openly with me. Her brevity alarming but there was nothing I could do or say to open her up.
I called her last week insisting that she take the ride with me. It fell on deaf ears. She was being stubborn and I made her aware of it. She lost it literally. If you would just say it to me … say you love me as much as I love you, it would not matter… it will all go away. I was puzzled by the latter in her statement. As, I am still to this day. Of course, the phone calls ceased immediately thereafter. I have been unable to reach her for months.
Deborah and I have nurtured a relationship for over six years but it has become a bit frail at the edges. I’ll bet she knows to the year, day, and second from the moment we met. However, I have been somewhat cavalier with our affair. This same sex love birthed from my innocence and exploded with such passion, it shook my core for, this is the first of its kind for me.
Absorbed with my recollection, I did not notice the change in the roadway up ahead until I am almost upon it.
“What’s this?” I say to myself as I turn off the radio focusing on the strangeness before me. My face inches away from the windshield investigating the stretch of highway ahead which seems to be gradually closing -- diminishing to a point. As I got closer to the anomaly, roses are crawling across the paved highway. Their growth spurt remarkable as they morph into a towering hedge like a plane at lift off. I gas the car endeavoring to out run the closure. Abnormally large roses blossoming before my eyes cease my passage forward. The car engrossed therein. What now! Baffle by the sudden overgrowth of flowers intertwine in the thick hedge, I step on the gas pedal again to no avail. Sensing a presence in the car, I turn to look into Deborah’s sweet countenance. She smiles at me. Her green eyes questions and hopeful.
Goodness did I think her into being but how … how could this be?
Imprisoned within a multitude of wild flowers -- mostly roses. Pushing and kicking at the door. It does not give. The roses seem to be impeding my best effort to escape the confines of my car… nonsense! I think.
Turning to Deborah, I say. “Hi there lovey!” Her fragrance serenades me and warms my heart. She wears her favorite frock too. My brows furrow remembering her statement about wearing it on distinct moments.
Incidentally, she wore it the first time we met. Coincidence became her decree grounded in sentimentality.
Panic stricken my heart drops. What does all this mean? My first thoughts are … she is not here to help me. My next -- what am I thinking she loves me. However, my instinct dictates otherwise. This situation could not be good. Acknowledging the love in her eyes, I yearn to kiss her -- touch her soul. A kiss no one else could erase. Tell her I love her now. Ah! What am I thinking! Affected by my current incarceration, I am tempted to bend to her desire. No! It would not be fair to her to say it now.
Restraint -- exercised all my adult life reappears. Fear of society’s rejection would be new to me. I must be sure before I take the leap; step out of the closet.
“Deborah honey… Um! How did you get here?” I whisper to her as I look about the car for a logical explanation.
“I love you Marina.”
My heart skips several beats -- joyous leaps -- always shaken by her outright admission. As always, I am floored by her absolute courage to speak it without a thought -- without a restraint. It was then I realize she loves me more than I could ever love her.
I acknowledge the desperation in her eyes, to know and for me to express all to her. Yet I respond with neutrality. “I know sweetie… so do I... you know this. How is this possible… you being here? Tell me Deborah.”
“Never mind how. I’m here to tell… to say… I love you. Do you feel as I do?”
“Deborah! …for God’s sake how did you get here?”
I am freaking out for Deborah lives miles away. In fact, an entire country away, Canada.
“I can’t… not here…not like this… I…” Her arrival a mystery. “This is neither the time nor the place for this discussion. Don’t you ever give up? You are the stubborn one not I.”
The thorny vines scratch harshly and repetitively at the exterior windows.
“Answer me Marina. I have to know! I know you love me. Why wouldn’t you say it to me? Do you love me as I love you?”
“Deborah what the hell is going on with the roses?” I’m in shock as more roses mature in leaps and bounds before my eyes.” Deborah, stop it… you’re being scary! What’s going on?”
“I cherish you more than I do roses, my love. Don’t you know this ... don’t fear me or this love, my dear? Tell me … please before it’s too late!” Deborah, owl-eyed looks away to stare at the roses. She snatches up her skirt. Her hands shake, and her glassy eyes beg. She whispers apologetically looking pass Marina to the roses outside.
“I … didn’t mean it.”
I look to her with puzzlement for I’m sure she addresses the ever growing roses outside. Several roses, as if in response, slap the window hard sending a hairline crack across my windshield.
Deborah reaches in kisses her lover long, soft and so sweetly while sliding her palm firmly over Marina’s full mounds. Marina moans. She pushes Deborah’s hand away.
“Stop it! This is crazy… too strange! Why are the roses here and behaving this way?” I say in a panic as I turn to stare back at them.
“They must know! It is your stubbornness that drives them. Say you love me. Profess to us now! We need to know… save me, Marina. The roses alone can cure me, my love.” Deborah’s voice transforms. It is stern and emotionless. Her eyes reflect not love but misery now.
Deborah is preoccupy with the breach – complete. A slight but sharp ping heard as thorny leaves slithers inside creeping over the back seats and along the head rest clinging overhead. A vine grows up the backside of Marina’s seat and rests its thorny limb on top her lover’s head rest. It growth ceases there.
“What… We! You are talking crazy! What does love have to do with this madness around us ... Deborah?” I scream shaking my head – my hair dishevel as I endeavor to relinquish the insanity of it all. “I’m sorry I didn’t have the courage to tell you sooner, my love. But I did show you in so many ways. I can give any more and certainly not here in the midst of this absurdity. Goddam it Deborah how could you ask this of me now.” I say screaming as I eye the roses at the window behind her.
The impatient vines outside enrage wraps their thorny creepers around the car and began shaking it violently.
This moment too freakish to go there with her. Frighten by my ignorance of this love’s complexities, I reach in to touch her face, to console. Deborah vanishes just as she magically appeared.
The thorny climbers populated the back seats of Marina’s car. She did not hear them but felt their thorny necklace adorn her neck – tightening more and more. Marina is pulling at them pushing back with her feet against the dashboard or leverage. Her fingers shred and bleed as the thorns rip them apart in her struggles tear away the vines. Blood trickles down her neck like rain scaling down a window pane on a rainy day. It saturates her blouse.
“I love you to, my Deborah.” I chokingly whisper. The creepers have succeeded in squeezing love’s acknowledgment from Marina’s desiccated lips.
The sweet yet sickening aromas of the tenacious blossoms steal her breath devouring Marina into a permanent dream.
Simultaneously, Deborah at her Canada home lay in bed surrounded by a bountiful array of roses, family and friends. She wears her frock. Bouquets of Rosa Sericea fills the room.
Hope is gone. The cancer wins eating away at Deborah’s insides for months. She reaches for a rose toppling the vase over instead. It falls to the carpeted floor – all scatter, the water drench the carpet the instant Marina’s blood saturates her blouse colorizes the Rosa Sericea embroidered there. Blood redder than roses and ticker than their lanky vines, which buries the car inside the hedge.
Deborah falls back unto the mattress. Her body goes limp. Her eyes wide in a frozen stare at the ceiling. In the sweetest of dreams, Deborah is smitten by Marina’s sweet, sweet countenance. Upon hearing, Marina’s vocal confession of her love for her, a quiet breath sputters out her parted lips.