Written by Cato Jun

Edited by Rodlyn Mae-Banting

a dozen red roses

from you

to me:

a grand gesture of your feelings,

a token of appreciation,

a sign of true love.

with an aroma so fragrant, 

the bouquet put perfume to shame.

it was my second favorite smell

after the scent of you.

it was encased in pretty pink plastic,

so tightly wrapped 

that i always thought of hugging you like so.

to me, you were literally

a tall glass of water.

so i put the flowers in a vase,

one that was bold yet delicate,

one that was a statement piece

with all the intricate details,

one that was just like you.

but the night we fell apart,

i watched the vase fall,

now replaying it in my mind 

in slow motion

as it flipped,

landed,

and shattered 

piece by piece.

each shard of memory

was now as sharp

as the edges of broken glass.

the first thing i reached for

was the rose closest to me.

it was still red as ever,

scarlet like a letter.

i noticed the blood dripping from my hands,

and to this day, i still do not know

if it was from the thorns

or the broken glass.

the rose seemed to be 

a part of you that you shared with me,

and the vase was where i kept it – my heart.

you took your feelings back

and my heart became empty.

but then the rose also represented

a love so pungent:

the scent is now an overwhelming odor,

the tight hug chokes the breath out of me,

and the details crowd my mind in a haze.

it might just be withdrawal.

was i hurt from you

or the idea of you?

i tried to separate the two:

picking out the twelve stems

and cleaning up the clear remains.

it was easy to throw away the fragments,

but the flowers were still full of life.

i kept them and hung them upside down on my wall,

drying them like a gothic aesthetic.

each passing day,

they drooped down further,

as if they were stretching toward the ground beneath them,

straining for the last bit of…something.

it was my way of holding on for hope.

i looked the other day 

and the roses had dried out completely:

shriveled from the wrinkle in time,

wilting like any hope of our future,

fragile like the feelings that have remained.

i do not think i can keep them,

so now a dozen red roses –

unfortunately dead roses – 

from me

to you.

Illustration by Vivi Hashiguchi
Instagram: @vivihashiguchi

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