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A bunch of red roses - short stories online
A bunch of red roses - short story
The drizzling leaves were caught and blown about in a gust of wind, they seemed to be flying now, resting here before being lifted by another gust of wind, only to be tossed around again. The scene seemed to reflect his state of mind. He looked at those leaves with a strange weariness as if he was a leaf caught up in the turmoil. Stan’s breath came out as a huge faltering sigh. He stoically walked past the street and sat on the steps of the old library, a huge relic from the past. He liked the smell of old books, especially those that had yellowed with age and had never come out of their shelves into the light of day for a long time. They seemed ready to crumble, but the smell of them seemed to fill him with a sense of deep inner peace.
It was Tuesday and the library was closed, he knew it and that was why he chose to come here. He could be alone, alone from the noise and cacophony of the world around him. This huge stone building was always like a refuge from public invasion of his privacy. Those arched pillars and long corridors, the resounding and echoing clatter of shoes as people walked through them was like a rhythm he had become fond of. He wasn’t a recluse but he seemed to prefer loneliness more and more as days passed by.
He opened the book which he held in his hands and tried to read it, the words seemed to fly around as the breeze from the sea was blowing inland. He inhaled deeply of smell of salt in the air, that was a reason why he loved that small quaint town. It could get nauseating when the fishing boats arrived in the evening but now it was still fresh and clean.
A young woman stood in front of him a little further away across the road she looked as if she wanted to speak to him. He quickly averted his eyes and pretended to read the rustling book, the wind was getting strong. “Hello’ she said tentatively as she came close, “is the library closed today?” He pointed to the board on his left which said in bold letters ‘Tuesday Holiday’. The young woman seemed to make herself comfortable on those steps cluttering the place with the bags that she was carrying.
Stan turned the other way, as if to look at the street from where he came, the leaves were still spinning around and so was the dust and flowers that had fallen off the trees. It looked like a pretty picture of tunneling yellow leaves and pale pink flowers. He felt like he was sucked into it.. a feeling of hollowness came over him and he sighed deeply. She would have been happy to be here he thought, she always enjoyed windy days. It was on a windy day that he met her right here on the steps of the library. As she reached the steps with a load of books in her arms the wind caught her skirt and flipped it up. Trying to hold her skirt down she lost her grip on the books letting them clatter on the steps watching them helplessly as she held on to her skirt. As she bent down to pick them up there was another gust of wind ready to embarrass her. Giving up she sat on the step next to Stan. He quickly got up to collect the books for her. She gave him a grateful look, and mouthed a shy thank you avoiding his eyes. Her face was pink with shame.
She was gentle and soft spoken, just the very kind Stan felt comfortable with. They had coffee together and all he knew was that she worked in a school across the street from the library. He did not even get her name, the wind was howling and he was not sure if he should ask again. Stan found her a couple of days later walking behind him down the library road towards the small town. She waved to him and he waited for her to catch up with him. They were comfortable in each other’s company and it always seemed like he hung around college for a few more minutes so that he could walk back with her.
Chloe was a simple girl and as shy as he himself was. They often walked in silence not because they did not have anything to say to each other but because they did not know where to start. He would wait for her to start the conversation and she just eyed him shyly not knowing how to start one. As days passed by she invited him to visit her in her small one room house and she would make him a meal or they would have coffee together. Coffee was one thing that bound them together. The only sentence that would often cut through their shyness and almost always with both saying it together, “Lets us have coffee.” Coffee was their ice breaker.
They had known each other for three years when Stan decided to propose to her. He had practiced it for weeks and was still not sure if he could pull it through. With bunch of roses in his arms he stood waiting for Chloe at the steps of the library, minutes were running into hours and it was becoming dark. Where was she, he wondered. Why did she not come?
She watched him from the clearing as he stood with the roses in his arms, she wanted to rush into his arms, but she was apprehensive and unsure if she could make him happy . He was a wonderful man and deserved the best she thought. Confused and overwhelmed she ran back to the school. An hour had gone by when she found the courage to come back. He was still there, waiting with roses in his arms. Chloe noticed his crest-fallen look, she wanted to put the smile back on his face and sprinted across the road.
Stan despondently tossed the flowers into the bin on the other side as he walked away. Anger filled his mind at the thought that she deserted him, deep despair and a feeling of gloom covered him. He wished he had had the courage to ask her earlier. He never saw her again.
Stan did not see Chloe running towards him or being hit by a speeding truck. The red petals of the flowers he threw away were now now caught up in a gust of wind. A huge spray of blood from her body embraced the rose petals as she lay on the red carpeted road. Chloe’s eyes were wide open as she sightlessly watched Stan’s receding form. Rigor-mortis now embraced her arms stretched out towards Stan.