Rosa – A Short Scene
This is a short scene that I recently wrote. Once I finished it, I found myself completely in love with it, so I thought I would post it here.
On one end of the room, to the left of the doors, was a flower vase three feet tall, its surface adorned with baroque patterns etched in gold; from the mouth of this protruded many long, green stems, each one tipped with a deep crimson rose, petals fully blooming. Above the doorway, the image of the same flower hung from pins bolted into the wall — a flag, drooping slightly, distorting the image it bore. In the center of the room sat a long table of lacquered wood. Two men were seated at either end, one with long, dark hair combed back into a mane that framed his face, his tanned skin almost darker against the shadow. Eyes of hazel, hard like marbles, were deeply set in their sockets beneath eyebrows perfectly groomed. His lips were set in a line — they were thin, red, and upturned slightly at both ends, as if they were smirking. He wore a black suit made of a fabric that caught the faint light of the candles, reflecting it whenever he shifted in his chair — that was not often. Swirls and stitched flowers patterned this attire — roses, like the one he held in his hands, spinning it slowly in his fingers. His two silver rings clicked as he did so, like a metronome counting each rotation.
Across the table was a man less adorned, his suit more alike to something a graduate might wear after scrounging around for money. It was unfitted, and bunched in many places, the cheap fabric pulled tight around his shoulders, yet let loose around his torso. His face was rough, his jaw speckled with black stubble, and his hair was uncombed, so that it tangled in a mass of frizz. He was sunk down in his chair, as if he was hoping it might protect him from something. When he spoke, his voice barely managed to travel across the long table, stopping halfway and losing its resolve to continue.
“I am grateful that you have asked me to come here,” he said, “My daughter’s disappearance has torn my village apart — torn my family apart. My wife cries every night that Rosa does not come home.”
His accent was clear in his words. He spoke in his language, but for the purposes of understanding, it shall be written in english. Across from him, the man looked as if his mind were somewhere else, as if he had not heard anything. He had, however, and spoke after a moment.
“That is unfortunate, David,” he began — the flower spun, “I do not often hear from the villages outside of the city.”
The room echoed the coldness of the man who owned it; tall pillars of marble held the roof aloft along the walls like sentinels overlooking the table. Any footstep was reverberated, as the floors were marble as well, the only thing to cover them being three large, red rugs, one beneath the table, one against the doors, and another placed beneath the array of tall, slender windows that let in the sunlight in a golden mist, the dust and tinted glass breaking up its harsh beams.
On the table was a small bowl of wood; it held a pile of malformed, black dates. The man across from David took it, then slid it across to him, gesturing for him to eat. He did, and the man watched him. The rose spun; the rings clicked.
“I have asked you to come, David,” said the man with the rose, “Because I believe that you are a friend of the government, that you will always be so.”
David looked up at the man, his jaw crushing the date in his mouth, grinding it into a pulp. He swallowed it.
“I am, Luis,” he said, “I always will be.”
Luis, the man with the rose, looked down at the flower in his hands.
“Of course you are,” he said.
David took another date from its pile. He put it in his mouth, chewing it while he looked across the table, waiting for Luis to continue. When he did not, he swallowed, and thought up something to ask.
“Will you help me find my daughter? Is that why you brought me here?”
The rose spun.
“I can help you find your daughter,” Luis said, “But let me tell you about my life first — do you want to hear it? I will tell you. When I was a boy, I was not poor, though I felt poor. My mother was a witch, and my father was gone — he left for the military, and did not come back. Because of this, I learned something. It was that trust — any form of trust — is a lie. Honor is a lie, and those who put their lives on trust and honor will die because of it. The only way to survive is to do what is best for yourself, because it is only yourself that will not put a knife into your back, only yourself that will not leave you.”
He paused, and David was staring at him, a frown, barely noticeable, on his brow. He had stopped eating the dates.
“That is a poor way to live, Luis,” he remarked, “Trust is the most important thing a man can have.”
The flower spun; the rings clicked.
“Do you believe that, David?”
The air was thick with silence. Outside the windows, the sound of car horns and the bustling city began to drift in, until it was all that could be heard, apart from the clicking of the rings and the spinning of the rose. There was sweat beading on David’s brow, though he dared not reach up to wipe it. He and Luis had fixed each other with their gazes. The rings clicked. David was beginning to feel sick in his stomach, and he shifted in his chair. The rose spun. A bird sang outside the window. David felt his vision blurring. In another moment, he would pass out.
Then, suddenly, a wide smile broke out on Luis’ face, and he began to laugh. The coldness was gone from his hazel eyes, and tears began to slip down his cheeks in little rivulets. David, relieved, began to chuckle as well, then he reached up to wipe his brow with his sleeve with a deft movement, hoping the man across from him would not see.
“David, you looked ready to faint!” Luis said, his laughter dying down, “I apologize. It was only fun, you see.”
He recollected himself, his tanned skin turned red. The remaining tears were wiped from his cheeks, then he looked up at David. He had not shifted in his chair except to laugh, and now regained his stolid, unmoving silhouette. In his hands, the rose began to spin again, and the metronome clicked.
David reached over to take another date.
“Your village has had no anomalies lately?” Luis asked, “Strange happenings — other than your daughter’s disappearance, of course.”
“No,” David said, chewing the date slowly.
The singing bird outside fluttered away.
“Nothing at all?” Luis asked again, “I was expecting a convoy of trucks many days ago. They passed through your village, I believe, on their way, yet they did not arrive here when they should have. I was wondering if you had seen them, if they reached your village.”
His question was casual, yet David still took a long moment to ponder it. He swallowed the date, then he felt sweat beading again on his forehead.
“They passed through,” he said, “I do not know what happened to them once they left, but they passed through.”
The rose spun.
“I see,” Luis said, “Do you know what they were carrying?”
“No,” David said, “They only passed through.”
The rings clicked.
“They passed through?”
“They passed through.”
Luis’ face lost its jovial light. He was cold again, and his eyes hardened.
“Trust, David,” he began, “You say it is important, do you not? Should I trust you?”
David shifted in his chair. He did not say anything, so Luis continued.
“The trucks were carrying people, David,” Luis said, “But you know that, do you not? You released them… and burned the trucks, killed the drivers.”
David was silent. The rose spun.
“I am the president, David,” Luis continued, “You have killed my men. You have interfered with my operations. Do you want me to help you find your daughter, David?”
He spun the rose one last time, then he set it down on the table. David’s eyes followed it all the way down, then they darted back up to meet the president’s. The doors to the room opened and two guardsmen entered, drifting like shadows towards the table.
“I can help you,” Luis continued, “I have her… here. She is dead.”
David stood from the chair, sending it skating back across the floor. Before he could do anything more, however, four hands were clasped around his arms and his shoulders, holding him while he struggled, bellowing at Luis, cursing him.
“And if you do not tell me where your rebel friends are hiding, you will see her in heaven,” Luis said, then, to the guards, “Take him to the cellars.”
They wrenched and pulled, dragging David from the room as he floundered and kicked. Out the doors, they went, then they shut them with a deep clang, and the screaming of the mayor was silenced.
Luis sat there, looking down at the flower. After a moment, he stood from the table, then strode over to the door, past the tall vase holding the crimson roses. There were many of them, all deep red, and all blossomed fully.