So continues my September Stories project! If you missed any of them, you can find the full list here.
Beneath the Blood Roses Little Bones Lie By Danielle Davis
The roses are struggling.
Needy little plants, those roses. Always needing nourishment.
Not sure why they're called Agent Amber when the petals are violently indigo. Probably the guy mixed it up with his weed stash and grabbed the wrong packet to sell on the street corner that afternoon. "I call this one Agent Amber, bro." So stupid to call a girl "bro" but whatever. Weird little fellow: small and sickly-lean, with that stripe of white hair like a tail down the center of his head. Said it was a braid. (Didn't look like a braid.)
And those tiny, pointed teeth. And brown—not dark yellow, like stained, but that warm, nut brown—with little bits of something spongy in between. Not normal, those teeth. Would've said not human, but that would've been before I got the roses that were supposed to be weed and turned out to be...well...not normal either.
And now they're struggling.
I really hate this part.
"Care's easy," he said. "Minimal fertilizer," he said. Weird, pointy-teethed bastard didn't mention they needed to drink blood.
Well, but then he wouldn't if he'd thought it was weed, I guess.
Not even like normal seeds, those roses. Slender seeds like leaves, like something you'd find in the kitchen.
Ooh, definitely need more thyme. Need to put that on the list for tomorrow's grocery run.
And salt...? Probably need to check on that, too.
But I need to get the roses taken care of before then.
So gorgeous, but so twisted. Wonder if I can sell them...? Pass them off as some rare find and just don't mention they need blood to survive. Let whoever buys them find out like I did. Little nick from a stick's all it takes. Watch them soak it up like sponges. "But don't let your pets near it. The vines like to creep--"
Oh. Probably need to move the cat. Neighbors might have a problem with dessicated corpses sticking out of the flower bed. "It's for the roses," I'll tell them. Probably won't fly though. Stuck-up pair of pricks with their LOUD. ASS. children.
I wish kids came with muzzles. Or that their parents would slap them a few times to shut 'em up.
I swear to Christ, if one of those brats asks me if I've seen her precious tabby again, I'm going to tell her exactly where to find it. "Go check in the garden, honey. I thought I saw him there..." All sweet-voiced and shit. Hehehehe That would actually be pretty funny. Follow her out, see her face when she sees those gorgeous thorns twining through the neck of that collar.
And then when she starts screaming, I'll slap her like her parents never do. "This is what happens when you make too much damn noise! Consequences and repercussions, kiddo."
Talk about repercussions.
Those prick parents would have a fit. Probably sue me. Karma for all the times I've laughingly joked, "So sue me"…? Perhaps. Kid would have deserved it, though.
Maybe I could save them the trouble. They're always yelling at those brats, for all the good it does. God I wish they'd actually do something about their kids instead of just yelling at them. Always when I'm out working on the garden, riding off a buzz by digging in the dirt. So soothing. The perfect end to a day... sun out... 70° or so... a breeze... getting my hands down into the earth.
Then they get home and it's laughing and screaming and shrieking and don't take my toy and will you please just follow directions the first time and I'm counting to three! and why did she get one and I didn't and more shrieking and it's not fair!
No, dear, it's not. Just like my having to listen to your spoiled ass ruin my gardening buzz isn't. Bad enough I have to deal with these damn roses. Gorgeous, vibrant, radiant, deadly roses.
Although...it would solve some problems, wouldn't it?
After all, the older one comes by almost every time I'm out. Never notices that the roses flourish so well despite my never going near them. Too dangerous. They've grown too big. Some of them big enough to snag me now, pull me off my feet. And I'm a grown-ass adult.
It's like she waits for me to get settled on my knees in the grass and then poof! "Miss Janet, have you seen my cat?" or "Miss Janet, today we learned about rockets!" or "Miss Janet, I learned a new word! I'll bet you don't know what picayune means..."
Of course I fucking don't, you little nerd. And you wouldn't either if your parents didn't spend a second-mortgage's worth on private elementary school. I never went to a private elementary school, look how I turned out. But nooooo, not their little princesses.
Nod. Smile. Pretend I'm not picturing drop-kicking you back into your own yard. "Oh wow! That sounds so cool!" and "Gee, that's a big word for such a little girl. You must be very clever." Whatever it takes to get her out of my yard so I can get some damn peace.
Like I've ever had an afternoon of real peace since the roses came in.
Always having to keep one eye out for those creeping vines like to curl so carefully around a sneaker, stick its thorns into the hem of your pants legs. They move quick, those vines. So quick, like snakes striking. Slow slow slow till it snags you and then yoink!
Trying not to notice the corpses caught between the thorny nest of stems. Loved it when it was just bugs. No more spiders or flies or stinkbugs all over the place. Mosquitoes. Ooh, SO glad those're gone!
But God, now it's so big. Squirrels. Small strays. Next-door neighbors' cats.
But at least it's nothing important. Nothing that'll be missed. Small sacrifices, really, to maintain such gorgeous flowers.
Well, until now.
That cat was at least...three days ago? Four? Maybe more like a week. Hmmm...
It's due for more.
The last thing, that Chihuahua dog...it lasted them for a few weeks. The usual's just not cutting it anymore.
Growing pains, I guess. So spectacular. Who knew they'd turn out so...they just catch the breath. Can't even describe it.
Eventually going to run out of animals, though. The squirrels have already started keeping away. Birds will probably catch on soon. Fly in flocks, see their buddy snatched out of the air doing a fly-by the living room window... And there's only so many stray animals in the--
I knew it! Like friggin' clockwork! I get home, I smoke a bowl, get my staw hat on, my gloves, and the school bus drives by.
Brittney's going to be over soon, I can feel it. Have a little snack, maybe pick a fight with her sister, get sent outside to play so her parents can, I dunno, watch Netflix or somethin, then over she'll come like we're best buddies.
I think the roses can feel it, too. You think I don't see that vine creeping out, all stealthy and slow. Tired of the cat, now you want something more, is that it?
I suppose it is time.
You always know, don't you. Like sharks can smell blood in the water, you know when prey's near. Can you learn to tell time, I wonder? Like the way a dog just knows when it's owner's coming home? Have you memorized my schedule like Brit the Brat has?
Squabbling next door—sheesh, they're like two parrots, those kids. Next comes Dad who's had enough, can't you girls just get along for FIVE MINUTES? Like seriously? When have they EVER gotten along for five minutes?
A slamming door.
Yup. Like clockwork. Like a script in a play I've seen a hundred times. Brittney'll be by any second and I'll have to stop what I'm doing to chat about her day, like I give a shit, like I don't have her dead-ass cat twisted into beef jerky in my rose bushes I swear to God I swear to everything that is holy if she asks me about that cat one more time I'm going to...
Take care of it.
Do everyone a favor, really. Win-win all around.
Nothing important. Never anything that'll be missed.
If I look just so I can...yup, still there. You can even still see some of the fur's left.
This time I'll tell her. "I just saw it run in, Brit! If you hurry, you might be able to coax it out..." and "Maybe you just have to crawl in a little ways after it. It might be scared..."
Because they really are beautiful roses. Can't just let them die.