Fiction 440: Roses

The bright smell of the roses invaded her senses, colliding with the dark cloud that was now her life. She slid her hand across the smooth mahogany box and shook her head, trying to block the memory that was now threatening. But, before she could stop it, she was back there. On that long stretch of highway, her heart light for what would be the last time…

The strong, California sun immediately began warming the leather of her jacket as the motorcycle slowed to a stop.  There he was, studying a map, considering the intersection.

“Are we lost?” she’d asked, though she already knew the answer.

“I don’t get lost, babe.”

She’d smirked, but nodded. She’d taken that opportunity to shift, stretch, and wiggle her butt a little. She had always complained about those trips, hours on a motorcycle never seemed to agree with her body like it did his, but the truth was she’d cherished them.  Hours together, not talking, simply pointing out different sites along the way… and when she was tired she would rest her head on his back, his hand falling from the handle bars to her leg.

There had been a field, full of orange trees in full bloom. The sweet citrus smell had mingled with the soft scent of dirt and gravel and tickled her nose. She’d sighed as a cool breeze lifted the hair off her shoulders.

He lifted his eyes from the map and she’d felt a sudden urge to tease him. They were supposed to stay on the same road almost the entire way down the coast, but there was no ocean in sight. “It must have been that fork a while back, we took the wrong road…” But we aren’t lost, she’d thought with a smile, holding her tongue.

A dog barked somewhere, breaking the silence and she’d turned toward the noise. There was a small fruit stand on the other side of the street and when the gentleman minding it saw her looking he held out an orange, “Naranja? Quieres, si?”

She smiled but shook her head. She’d watched as the dog spotted something in the distance and took off. It was then he’d shoved the map back into his coat.

“Ready, sweetness?”

“If you know where we’re going.”

“Always!”

He’d always been so confident. So sure, even when she wasn’t, that they were safe, that nothing would ever steer him off course. Until that damn dog…

The moment the memory left her, she wanted it back. She’d give anything to be lost again, with those orange trees and that breeze, instead of found, with these roses, and this casket.

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