A Rose for Julia

An offering of flash fiction that acts as an ode to those people, and the little things in life that delight, which shield us from the loneliness and impurities of the world abounding…

by: Ethan Kahana

The bijou, intensely lit dressing room, filled to the brim with mirrors and makeup kits, reeked of occasion as the colors of the blood red, yellow, and light pink roses flooded the room. The noise was overwhelming, the laughter and loud congratulatory messages directed at young girls wearing the same black leotards, pointe shoes, and tight buns echoed off of the cement walls. Hugs from proud parents were given. Glamorous bouquets were accepted. One lonely-looking girl, wearing the bright red leotard of the soloist and receiving dirty glares of jealousy from peers and parents alike, slung the strap of her bag over her incredibly long neck and onto her nimble shoulders. She sped down the seemingly never ending hallway with her head held high and exited the building without uttering a word.

Within seconds, her leotard was drenched and her old pointe shoes ruined. The girls in the dance company had been ridiculing her aged shoes for weeks. She could barely see the bus stop as the wind was blowing her willowy body off course and the rain was slapping her fully exposed face and back like a whip. Eventually, she noticed the beaming headlights of the city bus and made her way on. She plopped herself down onto the first seat available, exhausted.

Passing by the market, she asked the driver to stop, let her out, and to wait for her. She was the only passenger and her stop was his last so he acceded. After smiling sweetly and thanking the driver, she raced outside with a small ziplock bag full of the loose change that she had collected over the past year and entered the building. It was hard to keep any money at the home as the other kids would steal whatever they could get their hands on. Nobody seemed to want her pennies and dimes, though.

She sped to the flower section by the entrance, grabbing a single pink, red, and yellow rose. The cashier, an old woman who recognized her, asked, “Another recital tonight?” She nodded, giving her the bag of change. The old woman smiled, putting the three roses in a flower bag. As the girl walked away with the flowers in hand, the old woman sighed sadly, reached into her wallet, and put the remaining balance into the cash register as usual.

Once the girl arrived home unnoticed, she grabbed a plastic bottle of water and placed the three roses inside. The home was peaceful as most of the other kids were already asleep and the staff next door in the bar. Creeping silently up the old stairs and into the room lined with beds, she changed her clothes in the dark and placed them on her headboard. She didn’t want to shower at this hour so as not to wake the other girls even though her mascara had spread all over her face from her sweat and the rain. She placed the flowers next to the dozens of others on the windowsill by her bed, smelling each and every one of them. Suddenly, a small girl whom she adored named Hannah walked up to her. “Julia, I got you a present,” Hannah whispered, handing her a single rose. Julia couldn’t see the color of the rose in the dark, so she placed the rose in the moonlight by the window. It was lily white. Tears rolled down her face as she bent down to give Hannah a hug.

“Will you sleep with me tonight?” Julia asked while on her knees so that she was looking Hannah right into her eyes. Hannah nodded and got into bed with her. Still holding the rose, Julia wrapped her body around the little girl as if protecting her from the loneliness and impurities of the real world, waiting for her breathing to soften before drifting off into a deep sleep.

 

Ethan Kahana is an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan studying bioinformatics. In addition to writing, he enjoys playing the jazz saxophone, doing research, and spending time with his family and friends. He has work published in Idle Ink.

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