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A Rose by Another Name

Page 4

Jane Downing

Felicity looked across at Bradley’s friend looking back at her, a fork of his conventional salad halfway to his unsmiling mouth, and knew she couldn’t proceed as planned. She mumbled the best ending she could come up with in the circumstances. ‘Lettuce, a tomato, and bits of wax would you believe, hence Candle Salad.’ That’s done it, she thought.

Yet, contrary to all expectations there were these long-stemmed roses.

Bradley’s friend must have read a book on the language of love. Maybe he thought he was fluent. But the message jarred in Felicity’s ears.

The Spirit of the Rose

‘It’s because he’s short,’ Bobbie accused.

Felicity bristled. Bobbie had to remember that boy in Year 11. Height had not held her back then.

‘But he’s doing everything you ever dreamed about, Fliss.’

Felicity couldn’t explain it to her housemate. Bradley’s friend was, as Bobbie so callously pointed out, making all the right, textbook romantic moves. The first flowers were not the last. Yet Bobbie’s little Fliss found herself curled up in front of Netflix the following Saturday night alone. She couldn’t go out because she’d told Bradley’s friend she was sick. She’d pulled the doona further over her chin when Bradley came to get Bobbie, lest he prove a spy in the ranks.

Left alone on a Saturday night in her peak dating years, she had too much time to think. She found she didn’t like herself. She couldn’t explain her lies through the week, the inability to just say what she thought. Namely, ‘bugger off you loser.’ But it had something to do with the roses. They put her under an obligation.

I’m ridiculous, she thought, as she watched the untroubled violence on the television. She wasn’t so starry eyed she couldn’t see that love wasn’t all arresting upward glances. It needed time to grow and flourish; it needed at least a chance. Felicity knew she should have given Bradley’s friend a chance that first night. She should have described the phallic Candle Salad and let him laugh or not, and judged him then.

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