Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Flowers (10/03/05)
TITLE: If You Were To Stay
By Joseph Civitella
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"Honey, I’d like to..."
"Stop! I don’t need any more of your fiction, Steve."
My explanation froze in my mouth like an iceberg in the Arctic. "May I at least say that I’m sorry you saw her with me."
"I bet you are! I expected so much more from you." She grabbed her purse, leapt up from her chair and escaped from the restaurant.
I held my gaze towards the archway that led to the lobby. Twenty minutes passed, and no sign of her. The dinner remained untouched, a gastronomic faux pas to a heart that closed itself to me. I settled the check and made my way to the bar.
"What would you like, sir?"
"A second chance," I replied.
I shook my head. "Sorry. JD on the rocks."
I could easily drown my sorrows in alcohol and look for hope in the bottom of a liquor bottle. So easily. Instead, a song I had written for Amanda came back to me. Would she still be seduced by the melody from my soul? She had to be.
I scampered to the lobby, and found a phone booth that was empty. Her voice message picked up the call. "Hi! Sorry I can’t come to the phone, but if you leave a message I’ll get back to you shortly." Yes, please just get back to me!
I heard the tone, and sang her song.
"You lay a seed upon the earth, with the tears you shed, the sorrow flows. And feeds the seed that now gives birth, to a leaf from which a flower grows. And if you were to stay with me, I would offer you a bouquet of my love, a garden symphony, a blossoming love. And on this land, with these hands, I would build a temple, and carve your name onto every stone. I’d pray each day to keep a happy home, one rose by your bed, an endless lover’s tome."
I hung up the phone like it was a feather carried by my breath. I retreated to the bar, and was greeted only by my drink. And I waited. For four more drinks. An eternity of patience evaporated in the alcoholic fumes. At midnight, I weaved my way to my hotel room, undressed in the dark, and surrendered to the mattress.
It must have been a dream... there she was in a garden of wild flowers, radiant in her summer dress, with a coquettish wink just for me. Oh God how I loved her!
I was awakened by three knocks at the door. I scurried out of bed and trampled my way on the carpet. With an awkward motion I unlocked the door and threw it open.
Amanda stood there with a white rose in her hand, and surveyed my birthday suit. "If you really want me to stay, you’re going to have to put some clothes on. And you better have a really good explanation for what happened last week!"
"I will. I do." My head was spinning in an orbit I had never been on before. "Please, come in."
I stumbled to the bathroom to splash cold water on my face. "I hope my singing wasn’t as bad as I think it was," I mumbled from the sink.
"The message I left you."
"You didn’t get my message?" The towel clawed at my face as I dried up.
"I’ve been walking around all evening, thinking. Haven’t been home yet."
I came out of the bathroom and retrieved my shorts from the floor. She hadn’t listened to her song...
"What did you say on your message?"
"Why don’t you listen to it?"
"Why don’t you just tell me?" Of course, face to face.
"I sang you a song."
She didn’t appear overly impressed. "Let me guess. ‘Sorry seems to be the hardest word’?"
"No." I sat down beside her on the bed.
"Which one will get you back?" My heart leapt in my throat. "Your song?"
She hesitated. "I told you I don’t like Elton John’s music." Then, looking at me askew, she let out a hint of a smile.
Finally. Maybe, just maybe, she might even laugh this off later. Much later. And maybe, the color of the petals mattered less than the flower itself.
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