With the petals of a rose around my feet, I dig my toes into its squishy stalk and twist my heels upon its corpse until the sticky, green pulp finds home on my skin and turns my bloody feet a pretty brown to match the dirt under my fingernails. Stooping down, I step away from my victim and gently caress its shell. This is my last comfort to the rose, to the garden whose soil I have turned and kicked and thrown to make graves for the bridges I have burned. I dig my rose’s cavity and lay it down to rest, covering the stem with mud so that only its naked insides peak out at a devastated world. This is my reminder: I was here. Here, I grew. Here, I shed my childish skin. Here, I left raw and deadened to a world which taught me that a girl is only worthy if she slouches at night and saves her curses for the wind.
I can hear my mother’s voice crying out my name, but I do not go to her. The fence that has held me here, here in the front yard, here on the battlefield, is on fire, and I am holding a smoking match between my thumb and finger trying to bite away the stinging pain in my scorched hand. Ashes stroke my cheek to wipe away my tears all joyful and uplifted. My mother is consumed by the fire.
I can hear her screaming for me, but I can hear louder the sound of sweet serenity crooning honeyed melodies that make her dissonance seem a mirthful cry sent heavenward. And as the barricade crumbles, and as my mother crumbles, I can see nothing but light and light and light. I run with eyes wide open, blinded by ecstasy, until my bare feet glide past the blistering remains onto the spike-y, frozen dew of nothingness. Engulfed by shadows, I stop. I do not know where I am.
But from somewhere beside me comes the whispers, the echoed giggling of some malicious creature, and the hands come ripping at my pretty, stained frock to replace it with something softer, something tighter, and something more sinister than I have ever felt before. A heaviness settles on my brow and confidence strikes me. The shadows are my stage. I am safe. And now, as a black-petaled rose bubbles up from the muck under my feet, I grin at the darkness and blow a kiss to the starless sky because finally, I have reached my end, my skyway to hell in a heavenly bauble of beauty and glistening pain. I have reached the backyard.