RoseMarie held the hand of her most beloved creation. Feeling the nearly flawless skin stretched across her daughter’s hand, from the palm to the tip of each finger. The folds of her palm telling the stories of love and loss, pain and joy, the prophecies of her life yet to occur. Her rose gold skin turning RoseMarie’s cheeks pink as she brought the hand closer to her face. Her creation standing at nearly 5 feet tall requires she bends over to kiss the slender fingers and nails painted in a slowly fading violet.
RoseMarie looked into her eyes, an angelic aura of blue surrounding an explosion of sun beneath ever expanding reaches of green that display admiration and love for their mother. A love RoseMarie had felt few and far between, a love that fueled a decaying furnace inside her heart that had provided heat for hundreds of tenants who never felt the need to stay. They could find some place warmer, some place that would always keep the lights on. For RoseMarie’s heart only stayed open for her one and only, her dear Ophelia.
Their hands outstretched to reach the coming latifolius, of which Ophelia refused to call by their commonplace name, “Mountain-Laurels.” She had always preferred more complex and unusual names, finding the Johns and Janes of the world to be painfully tiresome. Learning of the second uppercase in her mother’s name sent her flying into the stratosphere with joy. The stretch of skin across Ophelia’s face as her lips parted and brought about the pearly glow of her eight newly formed incisors. The skin retreating from her smile at either side to form nearly perfect dimples. The left slightly smaller and higher than the right, bringing out the optimistic light within her tiny little frame. The crinkle of her nostrils as the cheeks began to displace her nose further and further upwards, her eyes closing until the shimmer of her whites can no longer be seen beneath her feathered lashes. The rush of blood turns her cheeks a rosy pink reflecting the love from RoseMarie’s heart and soul back out into the world.
Their hands felt the latifolius and weeds along their path down the beach. Walking across the far end of the beach proved to burn the soles of their feet just a smidge with each step that eventually turned into leaps and bounds until they found just the right spot. They stopped and turned, both pausing in the burn for a mere moment. Embracing the heat of the sun and sand, the wind blowing their hair back and the tingle of crabs and shells beneath the feet. Hand in hand, Ophelia on the left and RoseMarie on the right, they walked forward. Each new step bringing with it a cold and wet touch, one after the other growing larger and more potent. The cool touch of the world bringing both of them something that they could only share with one another.
They stepped forward calf-high into the water, the tide kissing their knees with each coming wave. They stood in silence while the wind pressed them back to the shore. The golden hour projecting their silhouettes across the shimmering sand, each shell and fiber twinkling like a night star amidst the vast empty chasm of space. An auburn hue illuminates their frame amidst the backdrop of the amber setting sun infused with a dash of violet and red. A color they chose to call Pulchoro.
As the sand swept away beneath their feet, hope and love began to fill every flap and fold in RoseMarie’s heart. It began pumping out the loneliness and pain that had forever wedged itself in the corners of her mind, body and soul; her very own personal trinity of which Ophelia lay stretched across. She closed her eyes and let the peace overcome her.
RoseMarie opened her eyes, she could see the beauty in her daughter’s as she spun around in joy skipping forward. Each foot in front of the next, making sure to never place a fraction of pressure on the cracks flooding the street. RoseMarie watched and laughed as Ophelia’s hoopskirt lifted into a perfect circle as she spun, revealing with it a look of pure joy RoseMarie had seen only once before in her life; a photo of herself holding in her arms a forever innocent newborn Ophelia. The smile on her face stretched from ear to ear as she remembered whispering the promises of a lifetime into her child’s ear. Expressing that the love from her would never grow cold and her heart never too full.
Ophelia’s skips sent her forward bounding for the stars. She turned to look at her mother, smile on her face, and reached out for her mother’s hand. RoseMarie blinked and just as their fingertips touched, just as she felt the smooth picture-perfect hands of her Ophelia, it was gone. Replaced with an explosion of horrors that painted Ophelia’s soul across the white bumper and asphalt beneath.
RoseMarie stood still for only a moment, her jaw dropped and her pores opened. Sweat began to accumulate on her entire body with an unseen vigor, caking her shirt in what seemed like seconds. RoseMarie looked left and saw nothing. Her chest got bigger and bigger, each breath taking in more air than her brain could process. She looked right and saw everything. Her body began to tingle as her foot stepped off the curb, her vision going fuzzy like her subconscious wanted to spare her.
One more step off the curb and she now stood facing the white van. The driver had yet to step out of the car, RoseMarie had yet to take her eyes off of it. She stood watching and her right arm began to shake. Then her entire right side began to join with it, shoulder… leg… chest… until it crossed over and she could no longer calm herself. She closed her eyes and breathed in through her nose, out through her mouth and opened them once more.
Hansel and Gretel never left a trail so red in their lives. RoseMarie proceeded forward with weak knees, each step preceded by a buckle in weight that could only be accounted for so many times. One step, two steps and then three, her knees gave way and she fell flat onto her hands and knees. She rests in the trail of Ophelia, spread across the pavement an arms length wide and a full grown woman deep. RoseMarie’s knees were painted crimson and her hands shone brighter than the Daldykan River.
It all became too real, RoseMarie started fumbling through the remains of her daughters soul, finding chunks of what she used to be. Tears poured from her soul and mixed with the remnants of her Ophelia in the street. Her hands red, she threw her head into them and initiated the transfer of paint. She crawled closer and closer to her Ophelia, refusing to look up at her nightmare realized. Her crawl bathed her in the soul of her Ophelia, each push forward bringing her closer to the shell it once occupied. With her head down and hair taped to her face from the fluids, her right hand finally landed on her beloved Ophelia.
Ophelia’s body lay flayed out across the street just three feet away from the back of the van. Her left arm twisted around her body as if she was waving to all those she passed by. Her right forearm snapped in two, connected by a thin thread of tissue and skin that felt their only hope was to hold on. Her knees bent like a coat hanger underneath her body would provide the greatest of horrors if not for the craned neck twisted around to stare back at the mother she once knew. Her eyes did not close, they swelled and turned red with the explosion of vessels beneath. A crack above the right eye sent tears of red down the side of her face and the cavity of her nose released her thoughts into the world for all to see. She starred her mother in the eyes and her mother stared back.
RoseMarie let out a harsh whimper, then a gasp of air followed by a cry rooted deep in the bowels of her soul. A pain so immense that her wails could be felt in the darkest reaches of the cosmos. She slid her left arm underneath her Ophelia’s neck and pulled her body up onto her lap. Her cries were faint as she patted her right hand along the torn blood soaked clothes of her daughter, each pat bringing up a layer of clothing that clung to her skin like a baby to her mother. The tears streamed onto Ophelia’s face, revealing beneath them that perfect skin RoseMarie once held in her hands every morning and night. RoseMarie cried even harder, not necessarily from the pain, but from the hopes that she may see that perfect skin once more.
RoseMarie brushed aside the hair from Ophelia’s face and used her sleeve to wipe away the blood from Ophelia’s eyes. RoseMarie pulled Ophelia close to her chest and hugged her tightly, like the way she had when Ophelia got lost at a fair and made RoseMarie swear that she would never let go again. RoseMarie began to rock back and forth, unable to sit still or control the cries in her heart. Her pain grew louder, muffled only by Ophelia’s body. Muffled only until she could no longer take it.
RoseMarie leaned back and looked up to the heavens and unleashed a wail with a force that shatters glass and bends steel. A noise so intense that not a single spine within ten miles didn’t shutter as tingles send themselves shooting up and down. A wail that would last no more than four seconds until both of her arms dropped to the side and her face grew pale. She stared at the heavens and repeated her wail once more until no response left her crumpled back over her beloved begging for it to not be real.
RoseMarie shuffled her feet through the sand, making sure to scratch every uneven surface and shell with the balls of her feet. Years of outward exploration had sanded down her feet into Kevlar vests deflecting the hazards of the environment. Yet, her feet began to bleed. Each step harder than the last until a pain so sharp left her motionless atop shards of a broken bottle. RoseMarie stood silent, wine bottle in hand, as tears retreated from the horrors in her mind and blood leaked from the confines of her heart.
RoseMarie clutched the bottle tight at the neck, sun to her left, and reached out for the Latifolia which crumbled under the pressure of her tense grip. The bottle raised and joined RoseMarie in a union of loss. When the pain felt just right, she stepped forward off the glass and turned towards the Latiolius. She pulled eight blooms off their stems and turned around to face the shore.
First step forward, the screech floods her mind. RoseMarie’s eyes slam shut as one of her knees starts to give way, but she holds herself up as close as she can. One petal drops in the sand, the wind enforcing a staccato descent reminiscent of one’s own madness; a few jolts on your path sends you careening backwards from whence you came. RoseMarie looked back at the displaced petal and felt a sense of ironic attachment, and if for only a moment manage to grin through the tears and folds of hair denying her view of Pulchoro.
Second step forward, this time a bit shorter to account for life’s displacement. A familiar wail attacks her eardrums, penetrating her heart with a full-on assault of the soul. RoseMarie’s hands stayed at her side, never raising higher than her mouth. The pain reminds and the bottle reveals. Breathing life into her eyes, the bottle reveals an uncaring gaze in the sky. One that gazes eternally upon its creations, holding no sentiment for the realities that lay in between. Screams of trauma hold no place in this frame, only the stories they tell. The second petal descends into the rusting sand, resting on the young dunes like tears on a mother’s face.
Third step forward, the wind turns a bitter chill. RoseMarie’s hair parts from her face as the wind brings the cold deep into her bones. She embraces the pins and needles with eyes closed, refusing her Mother’s plea to turn back. Through the pain she feels the calm, a deserved punishment for a life of wrongs. A body at peace surrounding a mind at war, releases the third petal onto the muddying sand.
Fourth step forward. The chill turns warm but the strength doesn’t disengage, an accepting embrace from the mother rooted in stiff dissuasion. RoseMarie opens her eyes and stares into the eye of Pulchoro. The eye enforcing a burn RoseMarie thought would be reserved for later, for when she joins the horrors of her life in a demonic matrimony built for one. She releases the fourth petal so that she might spare it from her damnation.
Fifth step forward. The sand has begun to absorb the blood from her wound like a sponge. Each step taking with it the shards of glass and shell that plagued her wounds. The weight of an entire lifetime relieved from her aching shoulders sends the wind pushing RoseMarie back, but her purpose drives her onward and she drops the fifth petal next to a growing pool of blood wishing to be washed away by the sea.
Sixth step forward. Her weak incapable knees chart a slanted path of blood that the petals must do their best to follow. The bottle shows signs of an exhausted life being sucked out and forced into an emptier shell not fit for holding even the smallest of lives. The waves rush up to tickle and caress RoseMarie’s toes and feet, gently pulling the sand out from underneath. She drops the sixth petal just before the arrival of the tide. Overcome with the weight of the sea, the petal is submerged and lost in its unseen depths.
Seventh step forward. The muddy sand let loose a river of tears and blood that came rushing to meet her ankles, kissing them higher and higher with each tidal pulse. RoseMarie brings the bottle to her lips, releasing the final quarter from within. It floods her body and clears her mind. She slowly removes the bottle from her lips, and with it, the last remnants of her life flows out like nitrous in a can. The Mother no longer resists, realizing her efforts to be futile. The wind, warm and weak, taps RoseMarie’s shoulder with understanding. That gasp of relief leaves the seventh petal atop the water.
Eighth step forward. The water has hit her calves, massaging the knots out of her body and soul as she watches the last petal being pulled past her and out towards the ocean. It reaches her, seeming to pause for a moment as if joining her in a brief glance at life’s beautiful Pulchoro. RoseMarie drops the final petal, allowing it to join it’s sister in a journey towards the sun. She watches as the petals rest side by side atop mother nature’s bosom, being pulled ever outwards to an unseen world on the other side of the sea where the sun meets the stars. The horizon swallows them up for a brighter and more meaningful chance at life.
RoseMarie walks forward, Pulchoro beckoning her onward, painting her silhouette across the sand until it is no more. At last, RoseMarie rejoins her beloved Ophelia.