Just One Rose

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Amateur

Author’s Note: This is my story, I wrote it, stealing is lame. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. Feel free to comment with any errors you find, I will feel free to delete them and call you an asshole. Yes, this could have been a contest story, no, that isn’t my style. Thanks for any votes, feedback, or favorites; Hope you enjoy:

*

Undeniably, it shouldn’t be there. Pope glanced into the kitchen area; it stood out against the rising sunlight, just past the corner of the partially enclosed bedroom of the small one story home. He then turned his head to the side and out stared out of the glass that made the back wall for the umpteenth time. It just made no sense.

He looked into the kitchen area again. It wasn’t there yesterday, he was sure of it. Spinning his head from his morning vantage point once more, he stared at the back porch and the opposite riverbank. The trees were covered; all that snow outside and yet there it was inside, as if spring.

It shouldn’t be there. He had found it, to begin with, incidentally, while cleaning washed up trash and driftwood, just before the cold hit full force. It was in the most paltry state: Ignored, forgotten, hidden between two trees at the edge of his lower yard, and it shouldn’t have been there either.

It was as if, hundreds of years ago, some individual had put it there to accent a walk that no longer existed, and through some kind of miracle, he had never mowed it down, nor was it chewed to nothingness by the woodland creatures.

Out of the kindness of his heart he dug it up, placed it in a pot, and put it on his counter in the kitchen near the window. It didn’t have a chance in hell of survival, but maybe it had a chance in his kitchen.

Months later – through some of the miraculous natural science of nature – the single branch of the rose, with the two leaves and the three thorns, far from wild and some kind of special hybrid, had sprouted a flower.

It wasn’t supposed to be there, it was out of season, and there was just one flower.

As he sat, partially coffee’d with no extra daily agenda for days to come, he contemplated the oddity of such a thing. He would have seen a bud on it. There was no bud yesterday, he was sure of it. He had watered it yesterday, too, and it didn’t look near to the extent of glory it had now.

It just wasn’t supposed to be there, the flower, let alone the leaves nor the extenuating circumstances in correlation. It must have doubled in growth overnight.

“Unbelievable… Some kind of miracle.”

The parallels of the lone growth of the hidden flower to himself brought his empty morning mind to thinking about something other than javalust.

“I could give it to someone…” Pope, all by himself at the time, did not, not in the least bit, feel odd about making statements aloud to no one in particular – at least he didn’t answer himself – though as he contemplated his own words, the thoughts changed from parallels to compatible individuals. He had rubbed his chin in contemplation.

“…but I don’t know anyone.” He really didn’t, just business contacts, an ex-girlfriend or two. A customer? No way.

As hetero as he was, he could only imbue such a thing to a woman. It had to be a woman, too: Pope was getting too old for attempts at the barely legal college girl bar hook-up: No cars, no responsibility, roommates, drama, drama, drama. A graduate student would be nice, but he carried too much pretense for a chance like that; they would eat him alive, or kill him first, either way, that is, if he didn’t murder himself to keep up with their constant demands.

At past thirty, he seemed stable: a house and a car and a job. He feared the disruption, though, and the disturbance, and the complication. Pope enjoyed the simplicity of his life and he feared the non disposable nature of the thing he was going to do. He knew that fucking was not a special talent, but that romance could be.

“You don’t just give a woman a rose, get laid, and then never call her again.” He was looking at the floor, shaking his head from side to side, thinking mostly of slow dances and face to face sunrises full of linen. Pope was speaking seriously, still aloud, yet in a quiet tone so as if not alone no other would have heard him.

It would have to be something special, special circumstances, something that felt right straight away.

“Screwit.” Pope had to shovel the snow that had accumulated through the night, from the front door of the small residence, up the hill to his signage and graphics shop at the top within what used to be the garage. He then had to clean off the van, and then he had to take care of the long driveway.

Miracle flowers be damned, there was work to do. He shoveled everything by hand, because that’s the kind of guy he was. It was early yet, and the county plow hadn’t even come down the lonely road by the river.

***

“If you can work with your hands, you’ll never go hungry.” It was something his father had told him female agent porno over and over when he was younger. Up until this point in his life, Pope had always assumed it was about work and making money, maybe even about motivation. As he stood as the end of the squarely clean driveway, shovel in hand and exhaling visible wisps slowly, he discovered a third thing.

“Shoot shoot shoot ch-sh-Sugar!!!!” The arm flapping and spinning movements to coincide with the near profanity looked exactly like that cartoon exaggeration of an animal from a foreign land that was in no way similar to the actual animal but nonetheless applied to the thing Pope was looking at at the time, and she was screaming.

Her compact was far too tiny and far too low to the ground to escape to freedom, stuck with a huge car length pile of snow at the front. Apparently there was a driveway into the woods, and she had made it almost to the end, somehow.

Pope, a five year resident, had not even known there was a house there, he thought it was an ATV dirt trail, barely as wide as his van. There were no mail boxes here, one had to go to the Post Office, but it was by no means extensively rural. There simply weren’t that many houses in this part of the township, and this happened to be a lonely road.

In his defense, he had generally sat on his back porch, as his small house was built on pylons and hung over the bank of the river. He couldn’t bring himself to look at a hill when the short expanse of the water and surrounding area were out the back door.

Maybe he should have looked up to the power lines, he would have seen the diversion.

She was dressed like an advertisement for polar exploration, like a rescue worker in bright red, and with all those layers, Pope couldn’t figure out how she fit into the car. Chivalrous as he was, though, he could not resist.

“Need help?” As he waited for a response he couldn’t help but notice how the small black car looked like a delicious cupcake covered in too much white frosting; the amount of snow piled on the roof was truly ludicrous, more than had actually fallen.

Maybe with the hat and the earmuffs and the scarf she could not hear him. The marshmallow woman wasn’t that far away, maybe as far as the length of his driveway. He decided to yell.

“Do you need help?!” He waited again, he had to, for she was still trying not to curse and demonstrating her choreography skills.

It had to be the yellow lenses of the goggles causing her to miss his attempted assistance. He was about to walk over, about to yell again, about to do something, but Pope froze when she tilted he head back and screamed wordlessly. He couldn’t help but chuckle at her when she fell backwards into the snow and quit.

Strangely though, none of her artic paraphernalia seemed to muffle that sound. The sound of his joy caught her attention. Nadia turned away from Pope at her first attempt to look for a source, becoming baffled. It was only an instant before she turned red below her gear – outfit matching – to the sound of all out laughter at her one-eighty.

He stopped laughing at the speed in which she snapped her head around to face him, though; a surprising rate considering her choice of attire.

He stood combat ready, a lone soldier, shovel hanging perpendicular – a rifle in slack arms – and holding watch on the frozen tundra with the earthy brown/green tones of his cover-alls contrasting the snow and rolling landscape; the emblem on the simple winter hat matched the coat.

Her first thought was where he could have appeared from since there were no vehicle tracks on the road. She was so set on getting out of the driveway that she had not seen him just off to the side and across the way.

“Do,” he swung the shovel from one hand to rest on the ground and pointed at her with the other; “you,” he smiled; “need,” he was already wearing sunglasses and the sun was just coming up; “help?” Pope stopped pointing, or at least she thought he did – Nadia’s goggles had gone all foggy.

Her third thought, though, was yes, and she said it aloud: “Yes oh-flunking-yes-please!” Her gloved hands went to the sky, matching her verbal. “Some kind of miracle!”

…but Nadia couldn’t see, so she moved the goggles to her forehead, sniffled, and popped out of the snow.

“Doubly so,” Pope was pointing again, this time to the county plow turning the corner to match the storyboard. Shoveling her out would have partially been an exercise in futility as the road was still too deeply covered for her driving choice.

Nadia jumped one-eighty, absorbed the sight of the plow, screamed “Yes!” while throwing up her hands in gloved fists this time, and dove onto her back into the snow, again. A fit soon followed, accompanied by “Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes,” and fist pounding.

Nadia’s problems melted away even if the snow wouldn’t with the beating. Suddenly her possibilities were limitless. She popped up again female fake taxi porno in time to see the bright yellow plow pass by as the mystery man waved to it. Nadia, scarf pulled up over her nose and covering her mouth, blew a kiss to the driver through his passenger mirror; the driver was watching, hoping it was a woman under the cover.

The scarf caused a tweaked look from Pope. All that noise and so easily audible with a scarf over her mouth. Regardless of it, he went to work digging from the road to the car before exchanging a greeting.

“Hi,” She pointed to herself, “Nadia, Nadia Furman, I know it sort of rhymes,” and then stuck out her glove, “Thank you thank you.”

“Pope Archer, and no problem,” he spoke softly, though his head cocked in search of the rhythm, reaching for her glove with his bare hand – the sizes were equal.

“Really? That’s your name?”

“Yes? At least I think it is.”

“Celibate?”

“What? No…?”

“Oh, huh… odd.”

“It is?”

“Maybe? So you work over there at that shop?” The sign said ‘Archer’s Graphics’ in bold block letters

“Live there too, just down the hill.” He never stopped moving at the same pace, snow disappearing quickly, “my shop.”

“There’s a house there!? I-didn’t-even-know-I-had-a-neighbor!” Her words, jumbled together as if a single, stopped him for a second and he stood up straight, obviously taller than her.

“I didn’t know there was a house here,” he looked around in the direction of her cottage, still unable to see it, “so I guess we’re even…” He glanced her way, smiled at her , and went back to work.

“Monkey-trumpets! No, I-owe-you, I have-to get this packet certified and in the mail first thing when the Post Office opens and I’ve been stuck-in-the-house-all-week! Because of this stupid-snow and-I-hate-stupid-snow and-I-need food. I would’ve lost my mind if it wasn’t for you! It just won’t go away!”

Nadia fell into the snow on her back, again, and then got right back up. “Plus I could have starved to death, or fainted from all that work.” she pointed to his effortless diligence. She was impressed, hard working men are impressive when they aren’t whistling.

Pope stopped, confounded at the sight; he was really unsure at just what he was looking at, in point of fact he could only see part of her eyebrow and one eye, escaping bangs and gear hiding the rest of her behind puffy red. Nadia was talking so fast, Pope had no basis of proof to the fact that she took a breath, not to mention her movements were jittery, almost erratic. If he had never seen a drug addict he might have thought she was one.

“Screwit,” Pope thought to himself, this was a rare chance meeting, he knew it, and he went for broke with a smile: “Well then you should know that your car looks like a giant chocolate cupcake.”

Nadia froze, then slowly turned her head to look over at her car. Her visible eye went so sweetly wide Pope almost yearned, then slowly she turned back to face his diligence. Her now hate-filled stare disappeared with the noisy growl from beneath her snowsuit, Pope heard it over the hum of her engine. Nadia’s gloves flew to her stomach, anger broken.

“Thanks…” She almost seemed sad, like Pope had ruined something, “…and thanks,” she pointed to the clear square path to the road in front of her car. Fast work.

“You’re welcome, Nadia,” he waved at she squished into the car and drove away, paying him no more mind.

Pope stood for a minute at the end of his newly discovered neighbor’s driveway as his newly discovered neighbor drove away, unsure if he had just ruined something or not.

“Oh well,” he said to himself, and continued to work shoveling the rest of Nadia’s short but hidden driveway, all the way up to her little hidden cottage and then a space for her to turn her pastry around.

Around the same time as he was finishing doing something for nothing and wondering what that woman looked like when she wasn’t guarding her core temperature, Nadia was walking out of the Post Office: This time she laughed at her growling stomach and the sight of her cupcake with wheels. He was funny, she had been mean. The idea of a normal man across the street had stuck and wouldn’t leave her mind.

She pulled off her bright red rescue-esque hat and placed it onto the tippy-top of the snow pile on the roof of her tiny car and snapped a few pictures with the camera on her phone.

***

Jimmy had stayed home, a snow day. He could have made it in, but was always slow this time of year, no big deal. Pope was ahead of the game, though, only pickups and payments. There would be none of that today, especially with more snow forecast, but he still had to sit by the phone with Jimmy at home, it would be nostalgic on his part. He had his feet up on the only desk/counter in the room reading the madness in the newspaper when the door burst open and Nadia squeezed through it, still prepared for her glory hole secrets porno overland expedition.

She had something in her hands as well. “Hi, again.”

“..uh… Hi.” Pope’s perplexed look was back, at least until she removed the scarf from her face after the goggles went up.

She was gorgeous in every sense of the word. Her quirky personality and expressive eye suddenly coming into focus, matched by her smile and soft laugh lines. She had to be older than him, but it would not have mattered.

Pope was unsure whether to go slack-jawed and open-mouthed at her beauty or laugh at the comical contrast of her head to the giant warming formlessness that almost prevented her arms from going all the way down, reminiscent of that kid from that movie.

His surprise at her appearance went handsomely with his features, obviously fit underneath the jeans and plain thermal shirt, with the look on his face almost as if he were caught masturbating.

“Look, I need to thank you for shoveling everything, that was wonderful, I’m not used to all of this…” Nadia pointed a finger in a circle at the ceiling while following it with her eyes, “…this is my first winter, I’m a sunshine city girl, this is cra zy!” Pope didn’t let her finish.

“S’ok. Like I said, no problem. I would have done it straight away had I known you lived there.”

Nadia did not mind his interruption, it had been some time since she had met a man whom wasn’t pushing sleaze for her attributes.

“Anyway, why don’t you let me do something nice for you, to say more thank yous, that was a lot of work,” slightly swooning at his confused look. It was as if he didn’t understand what he did.

He chose his words carefully, as if this were a verbal test. “What did you have in mind?” Pope tried as hard as he could not to let his mind hit the gutter. That rose was a sign, it had been a while, and it seemed the universe was telling him to be a dirty boy.

“How about dinner? How does tonight sound? It’s been a while since I had some good company, hell I haven’t seen another person in weeks. What do you like? I just went shopping and I’m stocked, we are neighbors. I can make some great pasta and some chicken and a salad or do you want a steak or something, so dinner tonight? Yeah? I’ll make you something. You’ll eat anything right? You’re a man, so yeah? At least let me feed you.”

“Dinner?” He was looking right at her, right through the storm of her words and fidgets, he had blue eyes, and he seemed younger without the cover-alls.

“Yeah, tonight” She was beaming a smile and thinking about his hair and his plain miscolored sneakers, almost possessed.

“Tonight?”

“Yeah.”

“Sure. What time?”

“Six?Seven? Seven… Yeah, Six-thirty.”

“Six-thirty? Four hours from now?”

“Yeah, my place.”

“Six-thirty it is, then.” He had stood after her arrival, but was almost knocked to the floor as she thrust the thing she carried into his hands. “Here, a memory for you, first meeting with the new neighbor, even though I’ve been here for like five months. Did you know the grocery store sells picture frames?”

“I did, actually.”

“Oh, well, I didn’t. So-odd… anyway, seven-wait, six, I mean…” Nadia took a deep breath, exhaling: “six-thirty.” She tapped her gloves to her thighs at each syllable of the reassessed time. Before Pope knew what was happening, Nadia sped around the counter/desk and stood on her tip-toes, softly kissing him on the cheek. She was about to run out of the door, but instead looked down at the newspaper.

“Oh, you like politics?” She was too close, smelled wonderful, and was fingering the headline.

“Not that kind of politics. I just like to know the names, I make those signs for both sides, well, all sides.”

“Those roadside election signs?”

“Yup.”

“I hate you.” Nadia quietly looked around the small office attached to the shop, absorbing what she could; Pope only in awe. “So… Seven?” She asked as if he had not answered already.

“Six-“

“Six-thirty, right. See ya’, wait. What-do-you-mean ‘not that kind’ of politics? Oh… never-mind,” and then she bolted to the door of the shop as quickly as her getup permitted. “Hey, that rhymed,” and then she was gone.

In solace once again and snapped to reality by the chill from her exit, Pope looked down at the picture in the frame thrust into his grip, specifically to the beautiful face about to sexily munch on a tiny car sitting in the background, trick photography – the small compact auto looked like a cupcake with a cherry on top – thanks to her hat.

Her tongue was out ever so slightly in the image, and it was one of the hottest photos of a woman he had ever layed eyes upon. Nadia appeared to not even be trying to do so.

“Wow…” He would have to wear a collared shirt.

***

“Ahh… Right on time, I-think? Seven?”

“Six-thirty.”

Nadia looked at the clock, “six-fifteen?”

“Sold?” The pair shrugged their shoulders in unison. “No… I’m early,” his teeth beaming, “I didn’t have other plans, and I would merely be waiting on time. I figured that worst case it’d be weird?”

“It’s not weird, come-in, Mister Archer, come-in, tsk, more snow.” Slowly it was falling again, and would, on and off, for the next few days.

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