The flowers arrive unexpectedly.
They weren't suppose to arrive until Valentine's.
But here they are now, all these months ahead of time.
Which means I will not see him until after then.
A little knot of fear rises from the pit of my stomach, lodges itself firmly in my head, and causes my heart to flap.
I run a finger over the petals. They shiver under my touch.
I look for a note in the bouquet. There is none.
I place the flowers in water, and let them be.
It's been a week now.
The roses are still in full bloom, the petals soft and tender.
Now it's been a month and I have seen the roses turn different shades of red.
Sometimes they are the vermillion streaks of sunset, at other times they take on the colour of blood.
When the mood strikes, they dazzle brilliantly like rubies.
Sometimes the phone rings and he tells me he is headed to distant lands, at other times I can say he's been hurt even if he doesn't always confide.
There are times when he finds the answers he is seeking, and I wish he'd finally make his way home. But then I can also tell he is dreaming of other adventures to pursue, mysteries to unravel.
It has taken me a while to decipher the code but the flowers are my constant companions now. I can discern the slightest shift in colour, the faintest alteration in tint, all in just a momentary glance. And I'd know if he is safe or happy or in danger or sad even if he doesn't always tell.
He hasn't called in a while now.
The roses have mostly been a dazzling crimson these past few days, so alive, so bright I think there is mescaline coursing through my veins.
A glint here, a sparkle there.
Like a candle sputtering and shimmering right before the end.
And now they have burst into flames.
And before I can do anything, a little ball of fire collapses into itself and vanishes from sight.
I stand looking, staring at vacant space, not quite knowing what to make of it all, when the doorbell rings.