A ROSE HAS ITS THORN

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8

“Oh god, please. Rosie, I need you to stay strong for me. If you hear me, please c-come back. Rosie. Just listen to my voice. My voice. Just listen to my voice, baba. I need you to stay strong. For me. For me. Listen to my voice. If you hear me, please c-come back. I need you. Rosie. Please. Baba! Come back!”

I gasped as my eyes shot open. I sat up immediately to feel the cold sweat stick the thin sheets to my legs where they were bare. The darkness was all around and I felt the warmth of Julian beside me, one arm draped around my waist.

I swallowed, brushed my hands through my hair to cool down my head a little before I looked down to where Julian laid asleep, quiet and still. I took a breath, looking away again as I remembered the dream. The darkness. The faces. Julian’s voice. Mum’s screaming. That one gunshot.

Carefully, I moved his arm off me and pulled my legs away and out of the sheets. I got up and found a pair of shorts to put on over my undies before I made my way out quietly and downstairs to the kitchen.

I turned on the lights and moved to the sink for a glass of water. I gulped it down easily before I got another and drank half before I tipped the rest back into the sink.

I moved to the fridge next and opened it, looked for a moment before I just closed it again and made my way out, my eyes sore and tired so I decided to try sleep again.

When I got to my room, I saw Julian move a little before he made a noise and seemed to realise I was gone. He half sat up again but laid down when I crawled back in next to him.

“You okay?”

“I’m fine,” I answered. “Go back to sleep,” I whispered and he groaned softly before he became silent for a while.

“How… Have you slept much?” He asked sleepily as he moved his arms back around me.

“A little bit but I’m okay. Go back to sleep,” I whispered, leaning into him and pulling the blankets over my shoulders as a yawn came. When my mouth closed, I glanced back to him but he looked like he was asleep again so I didn’t do anything else apart from relaxing into him and shutting my eyes.

***

I jumped awake from the dreams again only to find that it was no longer dark but daytime. Midday maybe even. As I glanced from where the sun shone through pass the curtains and to Julian, I let myself calm down as he watched.

His eyes were low but light, looking into mine just as he brushed his fingers on my back.

“I-um,” I cleared my throat softly as I glanced towards my phone where it showed the time. It was already eleven o’clock, almost half the day gone. “We should get up.”

“You needed the sleep,” Julian said, moving his hand around my arm to pull me back down gently, which I went with. As I put my head to his shoulder, his arm circled around me and his hands brushed through my hair nicely.

“How did you sleep?” I asked quietly, turning my head a little to look at him.

“Fine,” he answered, his eyes averting from mine as he brushed his fingers against my shoulder gently. “I didn’t get to sleep until after you. Not because of you. Just because I was thinking. Other than that, I think I slept well.”

“You don’t remember waking up then?” I said and he frowned for a moment and then glanced at me. “I just woke up and got up for a glass of water. You woke up when I came back. Unless you were sleep talking?”

“No idea,” he replied, leaning forward slightly to kiss my head while I smiled. “What about you? How are you going?”

“Is that your way of asking if I remember anything else?” I turned onto my front and crossed my arms over his chest with my chin settled on one.

“No. It’s my way of asking how you are,” he replied, his hands running down my body and cupping at my bum casually. “You ok?” He whispered and I nodded a little. “And do you remember anything else?”

“No, nothing else. Unfortunately,” I breathed as I sat up on my knees and ran my fingers through my hair just to feel a little more refreshed. I felt his hands press to my waist after and looked back at him as he sat up only to lift my shirt up to graze his fingers over my scar.

I looked down at it too, a silver and smooth about the side of a ten-cent coin just under my left breast, touching my ribs but towards the centre.

I had a slight fracture in one rib but that healed within one month. Of course, the bruising and bleeding took longer just as everything with my brain activity was all over the place.

I’m just glad I’m physically healed, I don’t have to feel any pain. Of course, I’d be better and happier if I didn’t have the memories and dreams too but I get what I get and I have to accept them. As much as I hate the dreams, they give me some sort of idea of what my family went through. I hear my mother’s screaming, I’ve never heard her scream like that before. And Julian, I can’t even begin to understand what he went through.

He saved my life. Just. And then he stayed with me all the time, watched me in the operation, watched them revive me. I have no idea what he went through and I don’t want to think about it.

I took a small breath while his thumb ran over the scar. I looked away from it and my new bony body, noticed that Julian had his eyes closed so I raised my hand to his cheek, to which he leaned into.

“I-.” I got cut off from the ringing of my phone. I looked away from Julian and to the lit-up screen on the bedside table. Ruben.

“I don’t really want to talk to him,” I murmured when Julian looked too, sighed.

“He’ll want to apologise,” he said, brushing my hair behind my shoulder as the ringing stopped and I bit the inside of my cheek. It wasn’t long until it was ringing again so I crawled over and retrieved it, paused before I answered.

“Morning,” I said.

“Hey,” replied Ruben quietly. “How are you?”

“Fine, I guess,” I said as Julian moved behind me and circled his arms around me.

“Good. Lo and I are heading to the café if you wanna come?”

“Yeah, sure thing,” I smiled softly, glancing down as Julian caressed my thigh nicely with his thumb. “Lunch?”

“That was the plan,” Ruben said, his voice a little louder and happier now. “See you there then.”

“Will do.”

“Love you.”

“Love you too,” I smirked and he quietly ended it with a ‘bye’. “Up for lunch with the boys?” I asked Julian as I leaned back against him, moving my hand over his. “You should ask Leo and Jasper to come too. I’d like to see them again. Um, Jasper’s girl too.”

“Veronica,” he sighed, his chin touching to my shoulder. “I don’t like her much.”

“Leo didn’t like me either,” I smirked, turning my head to look at him. “I’m sure she’s nice. And Jasper knows what he’s doing.”

“You’ve forgotten one thing. Jasper’s gay,” he said and I opened my mouth but then stopped because he was right. I’d forgotten. And Jasper was gay.

“Wait. Why is he with her then?”

“Why do you think? Shit went around and he’s trying to cover it up,” he shrugged and I narrowed my eyes a little. “A few of the football players were giving it to him bad. Still are apparently but he’s trying to change it by being with Veronica. Leo finds it funny so he’s not helping and I haven’t been at school so I don’t know what’s really been happening but I’ll figure it out when we go back.”

It was decided we were going back in two days. And I wasn’t too excited about it. For the drama, the gossip, the attention.

“Is he okay though?” I asked, shifting out of his arms to get up.

“He’s fine,” he replied with a shrug as he got up too, only to stretch while I moved to my cupboards.

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