The silence in this room is chilling, haunting, killing a mind with innocent thoughts and tragic emotions. It’s consuming a soul tortured by the still air, the stagnant flow of the dust. Rose, a name too sickening for her own naked ears to bare, only hears the ticking of the clock placed ironically by the front door, ticking back and forth at the strike of dawn for minutes, hours, never moving past the second. It’s agonizing to watch, torturous to hear, for a woman who’s committed crime defies her sanity, waiting for a man who may or may not make an appearance. Tick, tock. Tick, tock. Tick, tock. Tick…           

My God, she’s so careless! How can she be this stupid? She believed every word her mother had said, every single sentence that came out of that pitiful woman’s mouth. Mother wanted her to come back, to welcome her with open arms and promised to end her whereabouts with old men that call themselves kings! Mother said she was ready to start over and finally move out of this God-forsaken town where no one has the decency to be kind to a single human being with normalcy.           

She lied! Mother cared more about the money Rose made in her lifetime rather than asking if she was okay. Mother used her out of spite to retrieve money out of men’s pockets rather than provide warmth in a house ruined by greed and selfishness. She couldn’t wait to buy herself cigarettes so that she can light one up every single minute just after her job as a single mother was done for the day. You see, it was always about her. It was never about the food needed for her daughters to eat or clean water needed for her sons to drink. It was the same shit, and Rose…Rose should have known better.           

So the clock continues to tick, whines as she waits for a man who sees the good in Rose, sees her capability, her compassion, her willingness to provide comfort to those who need it, who need her. He’s a man whose eyes have a way with women, whose voice makes them strip down to their knees with a quick snap of a finger. In this town, he was known for being a well-respected business man, a man who is accustomed to the same conditions that Rose experienced, who feels deeply when witnessing such pain through Rose’s very eyes. So they couldn’t help but seduce each other’s egos and caress each other’s backs when they first met at a casual business meeting. They couldn’t help but find a craving in each other’s mouths, lusting for their pain in order to be soothed by breathless moans and pleasured sighs.           

But as lovers, as partners, they did something unspeakable, uncharacteristic. They couldn’t withstand the pain and control, the sudden anger that rose within their beings during a night with the family, the people who are responsible for their emotions and peculiar behaviors. Rose had pent up emotions with her mother, and he, well, had pent up emotions with his father. It’s funny really, to think that they even had the will, the actual strength to commit such a crime. She thinks father would be so proud of her ways up in Heaven…or at least she wishes he would be.           

The door of the now abandoned apartment complex slams against the callous walls of an ancient building, almost cracking at the sound of the devil. Rose looks up and sees the man stand right before her, tall and broad from the shoulders down, never straying away from what a man is suppose to be. Tick, tock. Tick, tock. He speaks, but she can’t fathom his words and swallow his phrases. Tick, tock. Tick, tock. He’s moving around and gathering things, feet stomping against the floorboards as she continues to sit on them. His coat is still stained with her mother and his father, skin still soaked with dead flesh, of humans that were once clawing at his feet. Tick, tock. Tick, tock. Tick...           

“We don’t have time for this! We have to go now!” he roars in her ears and whispers in her mind.           

He’s pulling her arms and pushing her shoulders, displaying his strength with the purpose of proving himself, proving his worth.           

Love, is it? Love seems foreign to Rose, such a strong word, heavy in her defense. But can she after what they did? Do they even love each other in the first place? She thinks behind the meaning of love, wonders about him, about them, us, about the love she may not feel for the man who reminds her of blood dripping from every corner of the dinner table. Tick, tock. Tick, tock. Tick, tock.           

“Rose!” he’s panicking, screaming, begging, asking her to remember where she is, trying to focus her attention on the situation at hand. Yet, she was quite foolish in the act, weak to even attempt to run from the sirens echoing in the moonlight, casting shadows in the streets of an unsavory town.           

Because of this, she begins to understand that maybe she must accept her fate, her ultimate destiny and suffer in her own demise, surrender to the consequences of her sins. If she doesn’t, she is a coward. If she doesn’t, she’s as weak as her mother, as weak as his father who used to abuse and neglect his own child for the hell of it. She must do what is right, for her father, for herself.           

But, unfortunately, this man cannot. He was raised to be a coward, an idiotic little fool like the rest of these men in this town, like his father, only considering the money and allies he will lose if he surrenders. So it’s no surprise that he decides to leave, leave his little Rose behind, taking his bags and shutting the door behind him without any hint of hesitation.           

He leaves to save himself, leaves her to fend for herself, to deal with the demons circling and haunting her mind during this time of chaos. And once the door slams shut, she begins to laugh, a laugh so hysterical it bellows in the red and blue hues of the night, quakes the clock. He must not realize that Rose will be the cause of his own demise, for she knows her punishment isn’t hers alone.

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