“How’s this?” asked the lady behind the counter as she peered over her bifocals and continued to rearrange the roses in the glass vase.
“Twelve roses. That’d make you stop being mad at me, right?” Mr. James replied with a grin.
“Well, that all depends what you’ve gone and done this time. Doesn’t it, Bart?” she snapped, disapprovingly.
“Yeah, that’ll do,” he said and with that he dropped a twenty on the counter, grabbed the vase, and started to leave. “See you next week, Judy.”
It was pouring cats and dogs. “Of course,” Bart thought once he got outside. He looked up at the apartments across the street. Particularly at a window on the third floor. The water beaded and rolled off the bill of his Bruins cap and onto his blood-red shirt, which grew darker by the second. He darted across the street, trading the illusion of avoided rain for a lost rose or two. He stepped into the building and made his way up the steps to the third floor.
He stood outside his apartment and straightened himself out, trying to dust off as much water as possible. An attempt that made little to no difference. He sighed deeply, then grabbed the doorknob and stepped into the room.
“Precious?” he called out. “I’m home, babe.” There was no response. He searched the bedroom and kitchen and found the place empty. He set the vase down on the living room coffee table, a rose snapped in half and drooping over the vase as he did so.
Bart plopped down on the couch and reached for his cellphone. He tried calling her again, for the twelfth time today. No answer, yet again. Out of habit, he checked his email and noticed that she’d sent him an email..
I think we’re done. I’m staying at my mom’s for a while, to sort things out. I love you very much, and I know you try but your flowers only go so far. I know you care about me, but you’re not over her and I can’t let you keep pulling at my heart knowing that.
You need to get over her, or you need to go get her.
I wish you the best. My brother will come get my stuff, please stop calling me.
Bart’s hand fell to his side, perhaps mirroring his heart which had just sunk into his stomach. His eyes welled up and before long his sobs would be keeping the neighbors concerned.
He managed to pull himself together and stood up and walked to the window. It was still raining out. He stared out at the passing cars, speeding through and splashing pedestrians with water that all but appeared to be saving itself by leaping out of oncoming traffic.
He looked at his cellphone, touched the screen a few times, and put it up to his ear.
“Hey, Riles, what’s up?”
“Hey, bud! How’s it going?”
“Not so good. She left me.”
“What? You’re kidding. Why?”
“I accidentally called her Annie last night.”
“Oh shit, you didn’t!”
“Yeah. She was pissed. She kicked me out of bed and made me sleep on the couch. When I got home today she was gone. She emailed me and told me it’s over. She broke up with me by email, man.”
“Fuck, man. That blows.”
“She said if I love her so much, I should just go get her. You believe that?”
“You didn’t tell her Anne died?”
“Well shit, man! Tell her! Everyone knows about that dickwad going on a shooting spree, if you tell her Ann was a shooting victim, I know she’d understand.”
“Nah. She’s right, I’m not over Annie. She’s right about another thing, I need to go get her. Do me a favor, you’re my best friend, make sure people know why I did it, and you can have my shit. Take care, bro.”
“Bart! Bart! What the—”
Bart dropped the phone and opened the window. He looked out at the ground below him, then turned and sat on the windowsill. The rain wet his back, reuniting the wetness that had begun to dry with its newly-fallen brethren. He looked around his cozy apartment, nodded, and pushed himself backwards.
He rolled as he fell, catching on an overhang below, and spinning as he landed in the road. He screamed as his limbs had become folded in directions for which they were not designed. He lifted his head and through the heavy rain could see the oncoming light that would once again give him a shot at conquering Annie’s love.
“I love—” he thought.