The rosebush outside Annabelle’s window was in full bloom again. This, however, was not a cause for celebration; while most would delight at breathing in the intoxicating perfume of the flowers, Annabelle hated it. In fact, she was thoroughly, completely, and utterly disgusted at the roses, which really was putting it mildly.
You see, the roses were a gift from him. He gave her the roses. Well, actually, he only planted the rosebush, but in his disgustingly charming way, he used the bush to symbolize his everlasting love for her. Like his steadfast love, she could always count on the roses. Even when he couldn’t be there, the roses would, which was as good a reminder as any…She remembered trying to tell him that roses are not everlasting, that they slowly wilt and die before returning again. But when she pointed that out, all he did was cock his left eyebrow, smile his crocodile-smile, and laugh his nonchalant laugh as he piled more manure onto the soil. Looking back now, it was really the manure that symbolized their relationship, not the roses. But, she was too overtaken by his charms then to realize it.
As the sun’s rays doused each petal with its magnificent light, the bright pink hue of the roses became so unbearable that Annabelle had to turn away from the view to protect herself from the flowers’ naïve cheerfulness. But just because Annabelle could turn her back on the flowers, it didn’t mean that she could turn her back on him. Jagged pieces of memories and instances replayed in her mind everywhere she went, regardless if roses were present or not.The latest memory to replay? That fateful day in the park when she first met him. How could she let him into her life? Was it the way his deep baritone voice made every word from his lips sound intimate and comforting? Or was it his eyes? Those piercing, chocolate-brown eyes that made her feel as if he could see her in a way that she couldn’t see herself…
Annabelle shivered at the memory and felt a sickening feeling grow in her stomach. She let him into her life, and he betrayed her, simple as that. Yet, as simple as the facts were, the gut-wrenching feelings that followed the betrayal and stalked Annabelle’s heart night and day were anything but simple. How could he knowingly possess her heart and just toss it in his trashcan of conquests? It wasn’t like there were warning signs posted along the way that said, “Warning! Major Speed Bumps Ahead!” or “Take Caution! Drastic Detour Ahead!” Those would have been helpful — but no, they didn’t exist. Or did they? Were there signs all along, and Annabelle just rationalized them all away?
As Annabelle awkwardly leaned back in a stiff chair, she began to re-analyze every significant moment in their yearlong relationship. There was that time in the beginning when he didn’t show up at the art gallery for her debut show as a photographer. For her, that show was everything; it signified the fact that photography was no longer a hobby but a legitimate career. When he didn’t show, she chalked it up to the fact that they had only been seeing each other for a couple of weeks and nothing was really official yet. Still, the other girl debuting her pottery brought along her blind date to the show…so maybe Annabelle shouldn’t have given him a free pass.
Then there was the time he forgot her birthday. That was two months into their relationship, and Annabelle turned the other cheek by convincing herself that she never mentioned when her birthday was. In all honesty, she was never really into celebrating her birthday, so it was possible that she never said…wait, what was she doing? Was she justifying his actions, again? After all the snide comments and jerky behavior that she dumbly endured for a year, she was going to continue to find excuses for him? He didn’t deserve to be excused, and after the way he had ended things, Annabelle realized that he’d never cared if he was excused or not. Everything was either his way or the highway, and if she wasn’t on board, he didn’t care. He would just find some other girl who was — which was exactly what he did that night when she caught him in a bar, kissing another woman…
As the vision of that memory consumed all her senses, Annabelle jolted out of the chair and collapsed on her nearby bed. For a brief moment, she contemplated lying there forever; if she just stayed in the comfort of her soft pillow and the warmth of her sheets for the rest of her life, she wouldn’t have to deal with the stresses of the world or risk the chance of her heart ever being broken again. But as soon as that thought entered her brain, Annabelle felt disgusted. Doing that meant one thing: he won. By choosing to hide from the world and eliminate any chance at ever finding love again, Annabelle was letting him dictate her life without him even being there. But how could she take control of her life when she couldn’t even look outside her window without being cruelly reminded of his existence? Sure, she could dig up the rosebush, but that would only remove the physical reminder of him. There were still the emotional reminders strewn carelessly all over town: their favorite bar that she had to walk past every day, the bridge across the street where he first said “I love you,” that café they discovered that one rainy, miserable day…everywhere she went, his ghost would always be there. The only choice was to go where his memory wouldn’t haunt her.
Slowly, Annabelle reached over and grabbed her laptop. Without even thinking, she found her fingers typing “one-way tickets to Paris, France.” In Paris, she could put her minor in French to good use and use her photography skills to land a job. In Paris, she could create a new identity, a new life. In Paris, she could escape every painful reminder of her past through the creation of new memories and events.
But, most importantly, in Paris, she could let her heartache heal in the city of love.
Lauren Drop graduated from Illinois State University with a BA in English Studies. Her major literary heroes include F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker, and Edith Wharton. She also loves everything Old Hollywood and cites Charlie Chaplin and Lucille Ball as two of her biggest inspirations. When she’s not writing, Lauren loves to bake, cross-stitch, and make jewelry…though not all at once.