“I can’t do this anymore Marlee.”
I could hear the emotion flowing out of my baby sister’s words. Her shaking hands holding her death as it moved closer to those war-scarred wrists. I was powerless in the battle to stop her, it was inevitable, and we knew it as tears streamed freely down our faces. I had to try at least one more time, stuttering out, “Please Ruby”.
I could hear the cracks in my voice. I didn’t care. I was desperate.
It didn’t work. Every time I look in the mirror I see Ruby, looking back at me. Her body covered in blood, red like rubies, thick like honey, dripping uninterrupted from each tear in her skin. Her eyes captured by death, filled with no emotion, looking straight through me, reminding me of how I had failed her.
I woke with a gasp, sitting upright, drenched in a cold sweat that made the clothes stick to my pale, sunken skin. My eyes searched the room, for any sign of life in the bed once occupied by Ruby. Yet, just like yesterday, there was nothing. Not a single thing left of my sister, the baby I had once held in wonder, the girl I had watched blossom into a beautiful flower, only to fall to the ground right in front of me.
Today was the day. The day that she is finally put down into the ground. All I could think of was how cold, how lonely a place it must be to sleep forever. I walked down the creaking stairs, dressed in my finest black, I see the hundreds of faces smiling back at me from photo after photo. This is when I should smile back at them, appreciating the happy memories filled within, but I can’t stop the lone tear that escapes, slowly gliding down the side of my face. The emotion pushing down on me, threatening to press me to the ground with its never-ending strength.
The service honouring my sister was a blur, I could feel the warm, gentle touch of Grams’ hand as it slowly descended onto my shoulder, letting me know it was okay to show my emotions. I wouldn’t though, I couldn’t.
I walked away after that, unable to handle it all. The sympathy looks, the “it wasn’t your fault” speeches; we all know it was my fault. It is my fault that the girl I had once sworn to protect was gone, erased from existence all because I failed her. They ruined her, making her believe in something that wasn’t true, making her want it to end. If only I had seen what they were doing, the messages, the laughing, breaking her apart piece by piece. If only I had stopped them before it was too late, before they pushed her over the edge with their poisonous words.
I pause momentarily, glancing around me, realising where I was, our spot. I ran my hands across the soft, cloud-like flowers either side of me, transporting myself back to the day we stumbled upon this place. It had been one of those classic summer days, she had dragged her feet the whole way, complaining about having to walk, then we came upon the flower field. It was picturesque, endless flowers, flowing elegantly from side to side with one lone path through the centre. With one hand clasped in each others’, and the other breezing through the field, we laugh, breaking out in a run.
I smile at that, at how we had spent the whole day surrounded by flowers until the sun had set and our dresses were no longer their original colours. My face falls as I recall that being the last time I ever heard Ruby laugh. I reach the bench, standing proudly despite its flaking black paint. I could’ve saved her if I had just paid more attention, the smiles and summer dresses, being replaced by a spaced-out girl in clothes that enveloped her body, it all meant something. I should’ve seen what they were doing and how it affected her, but I didn’t.
Walking back down the path, I stop halfway. Lying on the floor, in front of my feet is a deep red, ruby coloured rose. Picking it up, I roll it between my fingers, lost in its beauty. Its smooth red petals, beautiful, and innocent, distracting the bearer from the sharp, damaging stalk below until it is too late.
Ruby was the rose.
Pictured as an innocent little flower, developing it’s beautifully ruby red petals. Then it all changed, the innocence died away as the thorns grew, wrapping around the stem like a wall, enclosing her behind it. Her harsh, defensive manner was put up as she pricked everyone who came near her, protecting herself from them. All those years, everybody noticed the thorns on the outside, but nobody saw them on the inside, invisibly piercing away. Slowly her petals fell off, being carried away in the wind, leaving just the stalk. Gone was the beauty, reducing her to only the harsh, damaging nature of her thorns that were left. Eventually, it was too late, the damage was already done. All we could do was observe as she disintegrated into the ruby river that flowed out through the thorns.
Looking up from the rose, I see that the sun is starting to set, colouring the sky in hundreds of shades of red and orange. Its natural beauty sinking into the distance, only to reappear tomorrow but not the same, never exactly the same. Standing up, I look around at the peaceful flowers, curled away, protecting themselves from the cold, only to wake up tomorrow, yet, the one flower I want to wake up will never do so. I place the rose in my hair, behind my ear, and start walking away from our spot. Taking one last glance at the flowers that will always hold our memories.
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