He told her he loved her.
Looking back, his intentions had been transparent. So easy to see through the lies and between the lines. But back then, she'd wanted only to believe.
It hadn't been the first time Elisa had heard words of love. She knew not to be swept away by a smooth talker bearing a bouquet of gas-station-special roses.
Or so she'd thought.
He had wriggled through her defenses. Made a profound impression. Honest. Decent. Nothing like the others who purred into her ear, whispering honeyed words they were certain she wanted to hear.
Something about him had seemed downright pure.
Elisa barked a laugh at the thought, a cold and ugly sound that reverberated in the unfurnished room.
In the end, he'd been just another smooth talker.
Not like the bad boy in the old films, full of empty flattery. His was something more subtle. More polished.
More studious of his prey.
Words of love emerged, not in a steady stream, but in the manner of a man unused to expressing himself. A man lost in a world of newly-discovered emotions.
False naiveté had been his game. And she'd fallen victim to that strategy, to every calculated move he'd made.
In the end she'd discerned the truth. The damning evidence was well hidden, but not well enough.
Elisa focused on the roses he'd given her.
His shy smile emerges from behind the bouquet.
She'd hung them upside down from a string tacked to the ceiling. Once blood-red blooms had long since turned deathly black. A near match to the dried stains on the floor below them.
A slight breeze wafting across the room disturbed the desiccated flowers, and a single petal drifted to the floor. Elisa picked it up and cradled it in her palm, touched it with one outstretched fingertip. She held it close to her face, but its scent had passed.
She stroked the surface of the petal, her nail softly caressing its frailty.
One hand caresses his cheek as she holds his gaze. The other slips behind him.
Elisa stabbed her finger into the petal, twisting it into the hollow of her other hand, grinding it into tiny fragments.
The dagger plunges.
She envisioned his soul, dried and withered like the roses, drifting down in pieces to be crumbled into dust beneath her rage.
His eyes reflect shock, then acceptance. Then...nothing.
Roses. Such a strange thing to choose as a symbol of eternal love. Dead and desiccated after a week. Every bit as undying as the love he'd professed.
Every bit as dead as him.
At last she released the pressure, her hands aching. Black dust littered her palm, and she rubbed her hands together, washing them in the air. Trying to remove all that remained of him, all that still clung to her.
Elisa stared at the hanging bouquet, willing another petal to fall.
Kurt Hohmann (www.kurthohmann.com) tells stories, builds altars to pagan gods, drums 'round the bonfire, and crafts mad culinary experiments. His tales have been featured in Yellow Mama, Literally Stories, Inner Sins, Chantwood, Abstract Jam, Bookends Review, and Eternal Haunted Summer.
HalfHourToKill.Com is a literary website publishing authors of Flash Fiction and Short Stories in the genres of Fantasy, Horror and Noir. Feel free to submit your Fiction, Poetry and Non-Fiction work to us year round.
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