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Bloom For You

Episode 7

“Only when they’re as adorable as you are.” She winked one of her hazel eyes at me. “What’s your name anyway?”

I sighed, all but giving up on getting the unfamiliar woman out of my home anytime soon. As much as I hated to admit it, it was nice to have a little company. My only source of human contact since I moved here stemmed from Dex and the nice, older Cuban men who worked at the corner market near my place. I was seriously itching to have a conversation that didn’t revolve around fresh produce or upcoming business appointments.

“I’m Rosaline.” I paused, a part of me wanted to tell her to call me Rosie, but it felt wrong somehow. No one but Dex had ever referred to me by that name before and I felt weird about letting someone else use it.

Nora nodded her head, still flipping through the book in front of her. “I approve of your choice in smut, Rosaline.”

Cheeks burning, I snatched the book out of her hands and tossed it the short distance through the living room onto my bedroom floor. “You really shouldn’t go through people’s things without permission.”

“Chill out, we all gotta get off somehow.”

I let out a huff. “This conversation is a little too intimate to be having with someone who essentially just broke into my apartment.”

“Hey!” she exclaimed. “You let me in using your own free will!”

Nora threw her head back and let out a full-bellied guffaw

. Her laugh, while slightly obnoxious, was equally infectious. So much so that I quickly found myself cracking up alongside her, reveling in the first genuine moment of happiness I felt in a long time.

Nora, as it turned out, was also 21, and in her senior year at the University of Miami. She also moonlighted as a waitress in a slightly shady bar downtown, was currently working on completing a science fiction novel, and was a complete slob. She was, or seemed to be, my complete and total opposite, but I couldn’t help but find myself enjoying her company.

She was candid, fun, and free with herself. None of her traits had ever been present in myself or any of the other people I called my friends over the years. Nora’s presence was much like Dex’s in a way: a total breath of fresh air and the complete opposite of everything I had ever known. Even after spending such a short time with them, I couldn’t help but admire those qualities.

Nora and I spent the afternoon together, chatting and watching episodes of crappy reality television before it was time for her to get ready for work. I sent her off with an offer to spend some time at my place until she could afford a new window unit. Partly because I wanted to help my new friend out, and partly because I felt genuinely starved for human contact.

A few minutes after she left, I was rooting around in my kitchen, trying to figure out what to muster up for dinner when my cell rang. I answered without looking at the name on the screen, automatically assuming it was Dex, as he had been the only person other than my landlord to call me since I moved to Miami.

“Hello?” My voice sounded uncharacteristically cheery, even to my own ears.

“Hello, Rosaline.”

I recognized the voice immediately, the deep rumble of it devoid of any sort of warmth or tenderness. The same voice I wished so many times before would comfort me, but never seemed to be able to.

“Dad.” I couldn’t say anything else.

“Rosaline, it’s time to stop acting like a little girl.” His tone was exasperated, as it often was when speaking to me. “I don’t know where you are or what you are doing but it’s time to come home.”

For most people, I could only imagine hearing their parents were eager to have them home filled them with sense of fondness. Instead of making me happy, my father’s insistence that I return to my family filled me with dread. I knew exactly what he wanted me for and I wanted no part of it.

“That’s not going to happen, Dad.”

“Rosaline, I will not repeat myself.” The volume of his voice was rising steadily, sounding angrier by the second. I could imagine his face in my head, clear as day: his cheeks flushed that ugly, splotchy red color and the thick forehead vein popping out of his angular face as he struggled to take control of his anger.

Even then, thousands of miles away from home and safe from his righteous ire, the hairs on the back of my neck stood at attention and my back straightened into a tense, straight line. My body was silently preparing itself to deal with the onslaught of emotional damage.

I said nothing, but he continued anyway, just as he always did.

“I am up for reelection, this year, Rosaline.” I heard his breathing slow down, his voice getting slightly calmer. “I need the entire family to be together. We have to present a united front and that means you getting your ungrateful little ass back home to us.”

“I’m sorry, Senator, but I just can’t do that.”

I hung up the phone before I could be subjected to any more of his yelling. I knew he wouldn’t call me back, not that night at least. My father was many things, many awful, horrible things, but patience was his only virtue.

Suddenly feeling drained, I sluggishly made my way to my bedroom. Slipping under the warm covers of my perfectly made bed, my previous hunger completely diminished. My feelings of comfortable contentment were gone just as easily as they came, leaving behind an aching ball of stress and fear in the pit of my empty stomach.


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