by Emma Boyns
I remember the roses you sent me, crisp red shells of petals patterned into forty flowers. I remember the argument the day before that had prompted them, you shouting at me for reasons I was never entirely sure of; you were new to me and so I trod carefully, forgave your temper time and time again.
I thought of those roses when you threw that glass next to where I sat, the same shade of red trickling from my hand and yet you somehow insisting that those crimson tears were my fault.
I thought of those roses every time you shouted, swore, kicked that hole in the front door, because there was that same shade of red, of an anger you believed rested entirely on my head.
I thought of those roses when I had lost my sense of self, as I looked back to the person I was the day you sent them and realised that I had let my identity slip through my fingers and into your hands. I thought that to give into you and please you and apologise for every argument that you started was the courageous thing to do.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
“I have taught myself that losing my personality to a man like you isn’t courageous, but stealing it back from you is.”
Now, without the isolating control over me that you tried to disguise as love, I look over to where that bouquet of roses sat in the middle of my bedroom, and I wish I’d looked past the petals. I wish I’d reached below the surface, pushed through the Valentine’s Day red and the soft, velvet blooms and felt the thorns dig into my skin; green ombré claws gripping hold of me as if a precursor to your jealousy.
I have taught myself that losing my personality to a man like you isn’t courageous, but stealing it back from you is. I had watched those roses wilt inside the tight ribbon you had wrapped around them, and I wasn’t going to let the same happen to me.