Her head throbbed. After months, she was suffering with a nagging migraine. The whirlwind of the past finally weighed down on her. She sank into the pillow. Soft, dreamy… but it was not for her. Beat by beat, the migraine took hold of her body, her being. Even with the heavy medication, she could not drift off to sleep. Her eyes laden with pain, they fluttered, but they would not close.
She was forced to think. Like her eyes that could not shut, she could no longer shut out the memories. Johannesburg to Paris. The modelling assignment she had been waiting for for years was finally within her reach. All she had to do was board that flight. She did, but she didn’t realise it would almost cost her her life.
She worked, she partied. She owned the ramp. She was the centre of attraction… in newspapers, on television and at every soiree. She loved it. She didn’t sleep. She didn’t need to. She was on a high. There were some recreational drugs and alcohol thrown in too. It wasn’t her first time. She was accustomed to this lifestyle. But she did it within limits. She was engaged, soon to be married. Bradley trusted her. They had been childhood friends, campus sweethearts, lived together on a working trip to America and now they were house hunting. It felt like she was joining the dots in her circle of life.
Well, almost. Until that night.
She had just landed. Bradley was there to pick her up, with her favourite chocolates and a life-size pink teddy bear. She showed the world a tough exterior, but he knew that inside, she was a little girl who loved everything pretty and pink. She clutched the teddy bear on the drive back to their apartment. She stroked the soft fur which reminded her of pink candy floss. It was soothing.
By the time they got to the entrance, she had passed out. She lay slumped in the front seat, surrounded by a pool of blood. Startled, Bradley raced to the hospital nearby. He called out to her but there was no response, no reaction. He was dizzy. He didn’t understand what was happening. She was wheeled into the emergency theatre room. Bradley sat outside, praying.
They were so close to completing their circle. What now? Why now? As long as she is fine, we will get through this, he thought. Bradley waited for what seemed like weeks. It was as if she was back in Paris, as if they were in different time zones.
He felt a hand over his shoulder. It was comforting in that cold waiting room. He turned around. “Jennifer was two months pregnant. She suffered a miscarriage. There was severe bleeding. But she is out of danger now, ” the doctor explained. Tears flowed and trickled down his neck. He could taste them. Bitter. Just like the emotions inside him.
He rushed to see Jennifer. She was conscious and calm. She told him that she couldn’t cry, that she hadn’t made sense of it all. Painkillers numbed her physical wounds but other than that, she felt nothing. They clasped their hands together in prayer on the hospital bed, grateful that they were in this together.
A week later, it was as if that night was a distant nightmare. Jennifer was back at her desk as a guest relations manager for a luxury hotel group while Bradley was running his company’s IT department. They told no one the truth about that night. “I’m fine. We are fine. No one needs to know,” Jennifer assured him.
He knew, eventually, she would need someone to talk to. In a matter of weeks, it began to show. She was working longer hours. She was losing weight. Her boss noticed too. And so, reluctantly, she agreed to take a week off. Bradley was extremely busy at work, but she didn’t mind. Maybe she did need time to herself.
But, she surely did not need this migraine. It always happened this way. When she finally agrees to give her body a break, things cave in. She caves in.
She tossed her head, trying to find a comfortable spot in the pillow. She wanted the throbbing to stop. It was loud now; she could hear it. It felt like someone was pounding her head with a hammer. She heard another sound faintly. She tried to stop the throbbing so she could hear. There it was again, a knock on the door. She might as well drag herself to the door then, she thought.
“Special delivery for Miss Hill,” said the neatly dressed man. She signed. She tried to smile, but the migraine was at the point of anguish now. She clutched the roses and murmured, “Thank you.” Her voice was fading.
They were light pink. A pretty bunch. Clutching the roses, she reached for the top shelf in the middle cupboard for her favourite glass vase. Her head let her down and the vase slipped from her hand. She felt something warm flow along her arms and hands. It was blood. It didn’t stop. The blood reached the roses, filling every curve, every petal. It soaked them. They became red roses. Stained by her own blood, her wounds were still raw. She scrambled onto the floor for towels in the bottom cupboard. She couldn’t lose blood, never again, they had warned her at the hospital. She stopped the bleeding. The cuts were small and belied the gush of blood.
She crawled up, her back against the cupboard. Her gaze fell on the red roses. It was a red she had never seen before. Pink roses dyed red by her own blood. Lying on the white tiles, the red roses represented her. Her passion, her vigour, the danger she was in, how she had loved and lost. Finally, she let out a loud hollow cry. It pierced the silence in the apartment. It pierced through the pain in her head. She cried it all out. She reached for the red roses on the floor and held them close to her chest.
Red roses. That’s what it took to break her down, so she could piece herself together again.
Thank you to Writer’s Write for the Writing Prompt
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any character or incident is unintentional.