Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Roses are Red—and Yellow—and White
This is my #Fridayflash story for the week of June 15. Comments and constructive criticism are welcome, as always.
Eduardo had been gone for four days this time, a business trip or so he had told Eve when he packed. He walked through the door and smiled thinking it was good to be home. His smile disappeared when he heard her heavy footsteps on the stairs. In her hand, Eve was waving a document. Her red face was screwed up into a snarl. Her pink scalp was showing through her thin, blond hair which was almost standing up from the blood rushing to her brain.
He took a step backward and felt the door behind him. He should have opened it and run back to his car.
“What the hell is this?” Eve wailed. “Flowers?” She was close enough now that he could see it was a Visa bill in her hand. “What the hell is wrong with you? You think I don’t know what you do when you go away on business? How could I not know? You send your whore roses and charge them to my Visa, you asshole! Were they roses?”
Eve had him by about eight inches and almost 50 pounds. He was obviously afraid of her but he could never leave. She owned the house and paid the bills. He had quit his job weeks ago but had failed to mention that to her. Being 12 years younger than Eve, Eduardo felt like a child.
“I’ll bet they were red, too, weren’t they?” she bellowed. It seemed like her face couldn’t get any redder and yet it did. The veins in her neck were bulging with anger.
“White, actually,” he said quietly.
Eve was trembling now. Eduardo was making himself smaller and smaller against the door. She had never struck him and he hoped he would be able to say that again tomorrow but he had never seen her like this.
“She’s just a friend, you know? I don’t love her like I love you. You know that, honey. I could never love anyone like I love you.” He hoped his voice sounded sincere and sorry enough to calm her down—at least a little bit.
“A friend? This one’s a friend? And what about the one last month, is she just a friend, too?”
“No, no, last week I was visiting my cousins in Miami. Really. You know I haven’t seen them in over a month.”
“And who did you send the roses to last month? Your cousin? And what color were they, huh? Go ahead and lie to me one more time, Eduardo, go ahead.”
“Last month?” He hesitated. “Yes, they were for my cousin. She’s getting divorced and she was depressed so I sent her roses to cheer her up.”
“What color?” Eve screamed. She didn’t believe they were for his cousin. He had so many ‘cousins’ that she hadn’t met that she didn’t know if he actually had any family at all.
“Yellow. They were yellow. It wouldn’t have been right for me to send her red. Red is the color for love.”
“You bastard! You send roses to your girlfriends and charge them to my credit card and then make up stories and expect me to believe you. Why did I ever marry you?”
Eve turned and stomped back up the stairs. He heard the bedroom door slam and then the lock engaged. The next sound he heard was crying. Tough as she was, she cried. He had been a bad boy. He had hurt her feelings—again. He smoked cigarettes and drank wine until he fell asleep on the couch.
The next morning he heard Eve make her coffee and pack her lunch. He kept his eyes closed and pretended he was asleep. His head hurt from the wine and he didn’t want another confrontation. He would have all day to recover. Well, until 1 o’clock when he was meeting Noreen in the park for a picnic. He would just go by the grocery store and buy a bunch of pre-packaged flowers and pay cash. He hadn’t sent her roses yet.
At work, Eve attended the early morning staff meeting. She wore her usual scowl. Nobody at the office had ever seen her smile. She was always mad at something or somebody. When she got back to her desk the little red light on her phone was blinking. She had a voicemail message waiting. She picked up the phone and heard the receptionist’s voice. “Hello Eve. This is Donna in the reception area. Please come up here when you get this message. Thanks.”
What on earth could Donna want? Eve walked toward the elevator. As the elevator slowly moved from the first floor to the second, she watched people walking in the corridors through the glass. The sudden stop startled her back to reality. The door slid open and she stepped out heading deliberately toward the reception desk. On the desk she saw the vase holding a dozen red roses with ferns and baby’s breath. They were beautiful!
“What’s the special occasion?” Donna asked.
Eve’s cheeks were pink. She was blushing. “No special occasion,” she said.
The flowers were heavier than she expected so she used both hands to hold the vase and carry them back to her desk. It was lunch time. She took out her pink insulated lunch bag and ate her sandwich. By the time she was done with her apple it was 1 o’clock. She picked up the phone and called the house. It rang four times before the answering machine came on. “Eduardo and Eve are not home right now. Please leave a message and we’ll return your call. Have a nice day.” She waited for the beep.
“Eduardo? Sweetie? Are you there? I called to tell you that they’re beautiful. I can’t wait to get home.”