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A Rose by Another Name

Page 6

A petal fell from yesterday’s single red rose as if on cue. But that was only because Bradley had started to sing along to the radio and tap out an energetic percussion on the table, which shook and dislodged things. Petals. Teaspoons. Felicity spied it all from her cinnamon and rosemary-scented hidey-hole; a bit of spice, a bit of remembrance.

She had a flash of insight. The flowers were without a doubt the weapons of romance. They were not gentle levers in love’s cause – they were battering rams. This whole romance business masked an insidious bullying. The girlfriend in the restaurant had had no choice with the petals raining down. What if she’d wanted to say no? Rejection was an impossibility over the top of such a loud shout in the language of love.

If she tilted her head, Felicity could see a new rose lying in a sheath of clear cellophane on the table amongst the wine bottles and glasses and the reaching hands of her friends, all searching for love and acceptance and something irresistible in the world. Felicity felt excluded, the leper, hidden away. Her chest heaved in time to a love song. She wasn’t losing the chance of just this romance; all romance was disappearing. Her pain was the desolation of a lost dream. She couldn’t now imagine meeting any man she could love. Someone she could lean across the table to and say, ‘You wouldn’t believe this time I hid in the pantry.’

Herbs and spices spilled off the back shelf as she sat back to wait. They confettied her hair, scattering smells to take to bed with her much later, when the kitchen cleared and she could creep sluggishly, the doona hugged about her in rolls, out of the pantry.

A Rose by Another Name

‘Fliss,’ whispered Bobbie from the darkened hall. ‘Where have you been?’

The girls fell back into the kitchen. ‘Look at all these roses,’ Felicity sighed bleakly.

‘Bloody Shakespeare has a lot to answer for,’ Bobbie agreed. ‘All his incessant peddling of romance.’

Page 6

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