After the dark prompts I thought we should go for something a bit sunnier. This week’s prompt is a rose. Roses feature in so much literature. Robert Burn’s most famous poem My love is Like a Red Red Rose. or Shakespeare’s famous line “A Rose by any other name would still smell as sweet,” but have a darker side. Think Sleeping Beauty, Rose-red and Rose-white, the Nightingale and the Rose. So lets hear your stories poem or flash-fiction about roses.
This story shows roses in another light, here roses are used in that classic ‘picked up at the petrol forecourt’ way, as token of apology and indifference disguised as a symbol of love.
For a few moments, I stood enthralled by her. And then Matilde moved to remove me.
“You must go. Your mother is tired.”
“No, let her stay,” said mother.
“But he will be here soon. It is better if she is not here.”
After a moment’s consideration, mother indicated the wardrobe. “Quick in there,” she said.
Matilde opened the door, and I slipped inside between two fur coats. Matilde left the door slightly ajar, either by accident or design. It did not matter. Either way, I could see mother and hear the approaching heavy tread of Father.
“Her name is Isadora,” mother said.
“Another girl,” said Father, “Disappointing. But no matter. We can arrange another insemination.”
“Another?” said mother, and it seemed as if her voice became weaker still. “But you have Alexander and Hector.”
“One is an imbecile and the other a weakling. We must have another.”
“But you said you would correct them, when they are old enough,” said mother, and there was an air of desperation in her voice.
“It is a risk. The doctors will do what they can, but we need another.”
“Can’t it wait? Can’t it wait until I am stronger at least?”
I had no notion then of what Father spoke, nor why mother looked so fearful.
Father gestured, and Parsons, brought forward a vase full of the most wonderful flowers. These, I was certain, Matilde would not cast away. Even from where I hid, I could see how brilliant they were. Father must have had them brought from London.
“They are lovely,” said mother, but her voice was low and flat.
“Roses,” said Father. “Your favourite flowers.”
“Would you like to hold Isadora?”
Father considered for a moment then shook his head.
“I don’t want to get my coat grubby. Besides…”
Whatever it was besides was left unspoken. I could see mother trembling, and I too, even in the cupboard wrapped in ermine on one side and mink on the other, could feel a chill.
“When will you return?” asked mother.
“Soon,” was all that Father replied.
“No,” said Matilde. “I will not allow it, my lady is still weak.”
From the crack in the wardrobe door, I could see Matilde standing tall and defiant. Her arms were outstretched as if to protect mother from Father. Her red hair seemed to glow with holy fire, and she looked like one of the Sabine women in the painting Father had brought back from his last trip to Italy.
“Won’t you?” sneered Father.
I thought there and then he would strike her, or command Parsons to strike her, but he did not.
“What if I refuse?” asked mother.
Father laughed, but no else did. “As the calf said to the butcher.”
He then turned and left. Parsons followed after him.
The two women must have forgotten I was in the cupboard, or maybe not. At any rate, Matilde rushed to mother and embraced her and she, for her part, began weeping into Matilde’s arms.
“I will not allow it,” said Matilde, but they were only words.
The brush of an arctic fox skin began to tickle my nose in the wardrobe, and although I tried to suppress it, I sneezed loudly.
Matilde sprang up and opened the wardrobe.
“Come now, out of there.”
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