Blood and Flowers

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Chapter 6.

Dani sat in the park, letting the sun beam down on her. Her long, wavy, black hair fell gracefully down her back. The camera she was holding was fitted in her hands above her thighs. The bench faced the open field, giving Dani a clear view of a group of teenagers hanging out. She snapped a few photos of the neighboring trees, goosebumps forming on her skin from the drop in temperature.

She hadn’t been there for long, the peaceful ambiance making her lose track of time. The heat of the day had been replaced with a cool breeze. Green shrubbery looked a few shades darker. A figure approached the bench, sitting right next to Dani. Her pastel blue dress matched their hoodie. They were wearing black jeans with converse, the outfit being casual but still drawing Dani’s attention. She turned her head to face them, sticking out her arm. “Hi, I’m Dani,” she said nicely.

A hand reached out, shaking hers while blinking slowly. “Pleased to meet you.”

“What’s your name?”

“Guess.”

Dani thought for a moment, looking them up and down. “You look like an...Ashton.”

“You’re right. That’s actually my real name.” Of course, it wasn’t, whenever someone answered that question they’d reply in the same or a similar way.

“So why did decide to sit with me?”

“The view is nice. I usually prefer sitting on the other side of the park. But I’ve decided that the view is much nicer here.” Dani’s eyes sparkled. There was a sense of unfamiliarity coursing through veins making her slightly clam up.

“But why sit next to me? Why am I so special?”

“I can’t predict the future. I don’t know if we’ll ever speak again. This could be the first and last time we see each other. Maybe it won’t be. Maybe we’ll keep seeing each other. We’ll see each other for coffee. Seeing each other for coffee will turn into seeing each other for dinner. And we’ll keep seeing each other for dinner again and again and again. Maybe we’ll keep seeing each other until one day I’m seeing the inside of your house or your apartment or wherever it is that you live. Maybe we’ll keep seeing each other until I meet your family. And you meet mine. And maybe we’ll keep seeing each other until I see a diamond ring on both of our fingers.” Dani was on the verge of tears after hearing what was said.

“You don’t know me. You don’t know who I am.”

“That’s true. I don’t know who you are. Enlighten me.”

She wasn’t having it. “You first.”

“What do you want to know?”

“What’s your real name?”

“I told you it was Ashton.” It’s not.

“You could at least be honest with me.”

“I poured my heart out for you a few seconds ago. You really don’t trust me?” Dani shook her head. “You’ve been through a lot. I can tell.”

“I can tell you haven’t.” The wind started to pick up, leaves rustled making them cringe slightly. “You don’t like the sound of leaves rustling?” she asked, quirking an eyebrow.

“No. I guess it’s because of everything I’ve been through.” Dani rolled her eyes, shaking her head as she sighed. “Don’t hop to conclusions.”

“Oh, I’m hopping to conclusions? You were envisioning our lives together.”

“I was simply stating what could possibly happen.”

“Tell me something you know for sure.”

“You cute in blue.”

Dani went home that night“Payton!” she yelled. Dani entered the cozy house, darting her eyes around the room as she searched for her sister. “Guess what happened.”

Payton walked out of the kitchen, a glass of red wine in her hand. “What happened?”

“You have to guess.”

“Dani I don’t have time for this.” The white walls of the house were cluttered with family photos, many of which Payton wasn’t in.

“I met someone,” squealed Dani. She lifted her arms above her head, standing on her tip-toes as she twirled. “Plan the wedding now.”

“What’s his name?”

Dani hesitated. “Ashton,” she said, her voice wavering.

“Was that a question?”

“No. I’m just not confident in my answer.” Payton took a large sip of her wine. “Enough about me. What’s new with you?”

Payton took another sip of her wine, walking into the kitchen and refilling her glass. “A serial killer is roaming the streets. I don’t want you out at night.”

“Payton I’m a grown woman. I can take care of myself.” Dani placed her camera on the dining room table, noticing the empty wine glasses littered across it. “You really only have to use one glass.” She walked back into the kitchen, leaning on the counter and looking at her sister’s hand. “I want what you have.”

“You’ll have it soon enough.” She slid the ring off of her finger, tossing onto the counter, right next to Dani. “It’s really just a rock.”

“That’s not the point. You and Atlas have something. I’m in my thirties and I haven’t had a real date in years. I don’t want a rock. I want love.”

“I don’t see how you don’t have at least a boyfriend by now. You’re so nice to be around.” Dani grabbed her camera and went to her room. She sat on her bed, staring at her pink painted walls. She sighed, turning to look at her cluster of stuffed animals sitting in the corner of her room. Insecurity caused a heaviness to sit on her shoulders. Her seemingly immature demeanor was only displayed when necessary. That didn’t stop her from pondering about what they had said. Maybe she will one day have them see the inside of her house, having to explain why she was thirty-three and still living with her sister.

Shadows must be formed. Something must be opaque to obscure light. The keyword is opaque. It can’t be transparent or translucent. It has to be opaque. Humans to the eye are opaque. Light can’t pass through them. This doesn’t keep them from being utterly transparent. Whether they realize it or not, some people are rather see-through.

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