Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Bunbury Magazine/The Last Petal

First Suspense Story Published
This is an extension of "Green Haze"

     The sable horizon reluctantly releases the magnificent harvest moon, and a mantle of darkness falls from a lone car as it creeps along an isolated road.  Shadows slip from the two silhouettes inside to reveal sun-kissed skin over young, beautiful bodies.  A subtle glow from the dash covers everything in green velvet.    
      The girl, high on Halloween candy and left over adrenaline, anticipates the rush of air, heavy with cotton and warm dirt, as she leans toward the open window.  The boy settles deeper into his seat and lowers the wheel, tapping out a rhythm as he watches her arm ride the night air.  She sings her own lyrics to the song, cutting her eyes over to see if he approves. The boy laughs at her through a haze of green darkness, warm air, and music. 

The rest of the world sleeps.
      “Where are we going?” she mutters, barely audible above the music.
He only looks at her and laughs, a low, growling sound that blends with the grinding bass melody of the song. She closes her eyes, seemingly unaware that she’s received no answer. 

So trusting. 

He clenches the steering wheel tighter and glances over at the girl. He has allowed himself to get too close to this one.  Her blond hair, stiff with hairspray and already tangled, whips back and forth in the wind.  As the car slows to a near stop, the hair settles across her face, leaving only her lips exposed.  With one eye on the dark road ahead, the boy leans over until he can feel warm air escape the small opening of her lips.  It smells sweet, yet stale, like the last petal that clings to a rose. So vulnerable.  He feels himself stir with excitement then retreats.  His usual anticipation is cloaked in dread, and his mind scrambles to make sense of the deception.    

She is no different than the others.  

      He pulls into a nearly invisible gap in the trees just moments after the landscape changes from open cotton fields to thick woods.  The girl sits up suddenly, a bit confused yet excited for a new adventure.

      “What are we doing here?”  She pulls her hair back and secures it with a band from her wrist.  “Eww, is it another haunted house?  I don’t know—that last one was too real.”

      “Be patient,” the boy replies, reaching over and pushing a loose strand of hair behind her ear.  They pass an opening in the thick cover of trees, and his heart quickens at the sight of a small mound of loose dirt in the otherwise flat ground of the enclosure.  New grass has begun to cover it, but he still catches a glimpse of faded red petals beneath the new sprigs.  He glances down at a single rose on the seat between them, and a fresh wave of courage and excitement wells up.  He leans in to whisper, “I promise you will love this.”  Soft, tender petals brush the tips of his fingers just as a single thorn pierces the palm of his hand.