Black-Eyed Rose

- Jonah's story -

This is a tall tale, of which I am to tell to you, is of a girl. But not just any girl. The most beautiful, destructive, dangerous and repulsive girl any soul could meet. This is the tale of a dead girl.

At the time, I was in my third year at Brighton University. I was all set to deliver myself to the world, make a name for myself. I was to be a professor of science. A great one, I was promised.

I played my life out perfectly in mind over and over: I would graduate the next year with an A* degree in Bio-Science, ace an interview with Mr Jefferson, the CEO of St Thomas' Hospital, and work there for twenty-five years. I would marry a beautiful woman of my dreams and we would live happily together. This was all before taking an early retirement, slipping into a Ronald Reagan style dementia and dying warm in my bed with my family around me.

It couldn't be simpler!

Though my arrogance perceived me, and I soon realised that life what not all that I expected. There could be good times, bad times, recession, redundancy, illness, children, plague, death.

However, at the time, my pubescent mind abuzz with expectancies, I was unknowing that change was just around the corner. That change had a name, a face, a smell, an extraordinary ability and a ferocious temper.

That change was Agnes Rose.

Normal day, though what is normal? We were studying the circulatory system of a 14-year-old cancer patient called Tim, obviously, when the door at the front of the lecture hall clicked open. An immediate distraction was caused, and about forty or so heads poked round the side of the one in front.

I was at my usual status: Back row, barricaded against a fat kid and a hot chick (I didn't mind the latter).

I never caught a glimpse of the distraction until it came and sat directly in front of me. A mass of yellowish-blonde hair sat in utter silence, I didn't catch her face, she was hidden from me. I didn't get to look in her eye, didn't get a chance to ogle her. In a way she seemed to resent me, hate me, though we had never met. And honestly, I didn't want to meet her.

Maybe it was better that way.

I, to my regret, ignored most of what Professor Genius had to say for the rest of the lecture. My notebook only half-full. My blue scribble blotched the before perfectly blank page, an, ironically, what I had written was a giant pile of crap.

I mean, in all seriousness, who cares about what Tim's mother believes caused his condition or how much poison was in his blood stream. This kid is most likely dead, gone, perished deceased. I never knew him, nor do I find his buggered-up insides important. Why would I?

My selfishness, greed and arrogance, blinded me, I had the whole world within my grasp, but I was still hungry for more. I wanted everything. That was the problem. Something wasn't enough, I had to have more. I cared little of anyone elses problems. And eventually that led to my downfall.

The girl, who (I felt) had destroyed my concentration within a minute or two, had vanished. I felt bitter when I discovered that no one saw hide nor hair of her for the rest of the day; it was as if she were a ghost. I pondered on the thought of that she was all made up, a figment of my vivid imagination, not really real, a phantom, a hallucination, a badly cooked chicken wing from McDonald's.

However I could not bring myself to rest. The blonde girl was real, she had to be. I'd inhaled her scent; she smelled of geraniums in bloom, she had walked right into my domain, my comfort zone. I was certain of her existence, no matter how momentary it was. She had to be real, she had to be.

About a month or two later, after the blonde girl had disappeared from my conscious mind and was replaced by worry, I was walking home from a late lecture. My Khakis pounded the pavement as I walked to my flat, which I shared several other sloppy students. Their names never called to me, neither did I remember them.

The early autumnal evening and late summer breeze was refreshing after revising brain patterns over and over. And walking, all that walking soothed my heavy mind, it felt like cotton wool. Pure and delicate, fragile as a flower. I could stroll for hours; walking doesn't require any intellect, just one foot in front of the other. I don't understand why wheelchair people find it so hard.

My arrival home to my student apartment was different than usual. When I opened the front-door, no one was home. Not even my study buddy. I wasn't met with the overwhelming stench of old socks, cold baked beans and general teenage sludge. There were no scuff marks on the floor, no vomit in the kitchen sink or clothes on the sofa. It smelled strange, like geraniums in bloom.

Utterly confused and gassed by the strong flowery scent, I waded through the feminine paradise of student living and stumbled onto the balcony. I yanked the key from the latch of the glass sliding doors and drove it into my jeans pocket. I flung myself into the navy-blue deck chair that my mother gave me for my birthday last year. Little did I know, a bolt in the crossed legs of the chair was loose, it was just seconds away from failing. Then it happened, the bloody deck chair collapsed to the floor and I was left struggling to get out from beneath it. Even though I was alone, I was humiliated!

After a ferocious battle with a lawn chair, I eventually freed myself and stood on my own two feet once again. I felt rather flushed and angry with myself for letting my invisible reputation die at the hands of furniture. My boiling blood thumped hard against my ears, and I desperately tried to remember techniques from the stupid anger management classes that I had to take last summer. But that, my friends, is another story.

Time passed and I gradually cooled down to a manageable temperature. I began to ponder, why on Earth does my flat smell of flowers. Have my flatmates turned into girls? I remember being foolishly alarmed at the thought of some girls in my home. I was 18, you'd never have thought that an 18-year-old man was afraid of girls! But that, as well, is another story, for another day.

I lifted the tiny silver key from my pocket and unlocked the door. With ease I slipped my tiny form through the small gap I had opened in the door, as to not let the flies in. I hated flies, those bloody creatures. I'd often wake up from a disturbed night of slumber to find the wretched beasts floating around my head, invited in by my flatmates and their inebriated girlfriends running riot about the cosy apartment. It turns out that the flies were not the only problem that woke me up in the morning, or night for that matter.

My night terrors were a constant issue, I would often wake in cloaks of sweat, beads of the stuff secreting from my forehead, underarms, feet and genitals. It was truly an embarrassment. I was a bloody virgin because of it, some girls could just about stick the glasses, ginger hair and braced teeth, but when I told them about my night terrors, it really scared them off. I was bitter at the time, but soon realised that I could end up hurting one of them, or worse, in my sleep. They seemed to gathered my intellect, and left me. Alone, in a bar, with some drunk bitch that looked a lot like a drag queen.

I don't blame them, I wouldn't have wanted to sleep with me either.

The day of the fire came about out of nowhere, just mere coincidence. This may sound cliché, but it was just an ordinary day. As usual, I had a lecture in South Hall and was due there at 8AM until 10AM. I couldn't have been more hung over, if I'd tried. My head was like a beating drum, the slightest flicker of sound would send a wave of vibration into my ears and through my skull. I generally felt like crap.
I had partied hard that previous night, and well into the early hours of the morning. I can't remember when, how or where I fell asleep, for that matter, but I was violently woken up by my alarm clock. A dreadful buzzing sound that was loud enough to summon demons of the underworld to my bedroom. And, of course, annoy my flatmates.

Anyway, I had just arrived at the lecture hall (South Hall) where Professor was already standing in front of the blackboard speaking of cell duplication. I slipped casually through the open doorway and shuffled to a seat in the middle of the back row. I irritated, disturbed and pissed off several other students as I made my way, and I can't recall being very popular amongst those kids for some time afterwards. Despite my lack of interest in other people's feelings, I was annoyed with myself for interrupting the teaching and learning of those students. Their cold looks were piercing, seeking me out, secretly punishing me for my 'crime'. Breathless and apologetic, I slumped in my seat and concentrated hard on what Prof. was saying. None of it made any sort of sense, maybe it was the drink, but maybe it was my mind. That was the moment that I found that I had lost all interest in the subject since that girl had come along. It was as if she had blinded my aspirations, my intentions, my beliefs. She had killed me inside.

I had lost sight of who I really was. No. An entirely new chapter had opened in my life, making me into something I desperately wanted to be, but couldn't voice. I was confused, exasperated, blind, lost and somewhat hopeful.

I had no idea why, but I was happy, I was laughing. Laughing fit to burst in the back of a silent lecture hall, where studying was taking place. I laughed at the subject, laughed at Professor Know It All, laughed at the baffled and slight unnerved faces of my peers, I laughed at the principles face when he said that there was no place for disrespect, arrogance or insanity at Brighton University. It was all a joke. A big joke. A huge joke!

Later that day, I found myself hauling my bags of clothes from my bedroom, pulling down the posters surrounding my previously sheeted bed and of all eating The Last Supper with my flatmates. None of them seemed to care that I had been expelled, they just sat and ate the beans on toast that I had made them out of pure kindness. I put out that I was sorry for my wrong-doings and that I would miss them. I wore that liar's face, put on a smile. Though in my heart, I was burning, furious, hot. I was angry, an angry man, all set to go on a fury-built rampage.

But, unsurprisingly, I kept my cool. That was until they left, they left for 'Bar101 ' without a word, leaving me to sit in a pit of despair. When the footsteps and the aftershave left the building and the tops of their heads appeared on the ground below, I went mad. That is the only description, I have no other reason for my actions. No other reason for what I did.

Snatching my satchel from the arm of the sofa, I ripped open the clasp and yanked my books from inside it. I set about, ripping page after page, cover after cover until there were no more. A huge pile of battered and torn textbooks caressed my feet. I kicked at them to remove the memories of my previous intentions, but it was of no use. The rage boiling inside me controlled my body, grabbed a bottle of left-over vodka and poured it gracefully over the textbooks and most of the carpet floor. The demon provoked me to light a match in his honour and drop it onto the fueled area.

My life was ablaze, crumpling, burning, dying, right before my eyes. I was powerless. The monster had vanished from my soul and I was placed back into my body, back into the visions of Hell that were to unfold. My entire 18 years were failing before my eyes, I was disgusted. My entire life's work ruined, at the strike of a match. Though tears would not come, I was cold, stone cold, unfeeling in this moment of madness. I had become the monster that I tried so desperately to avoid.

The alarm had been raised by now. The hundred or so screeches of fear were piercing in the twilight, bestowing shivers, just touches, of angst down my spine. Footsteps were pounding down the hallway outside of my old home but I was stationary, gazing into the flames, reconciling, thinking of my youth. My home. I missed my home. I missed the whistling of the old tin kettle and rattling of the soup pan as Mum made tea, I missed Gerald, my dog, I missed my Dad and how he would constantly moan and bitch about everything. But most of all, I missed my room, my cosy fortress of solitude, a place where I could bat away all the bad things and collective memories that would terrorise me , a paradise, a messy teenage paradise. That was bliss.

However, I could never return, I had no home to go to. No one to greet me there, no one to boil the kettle or make soup. The house was gone, demolished by my temper. The family was gone, demolished by my temper. The dog was gone, demolished by my temper.

I had nothing.

My thoughts of sorrow were disconcerting and made my brain itch. I scratched hard at the thoughts, I tried to destroy them, make them haunt me no more. It was of no use, the memories were planted in my head, my mind ached, I had to let it out, I had to release the pain of my previous existence.

I screamed, a hoarse, high-pitched yelp from deep in my throat. I could feel my mind emptying, the hot steam from my brain evaporated as it escaped my mouth. Though still there was more, more to be gone, more to be destroyed. I took another deep breath of toxic air, opened my mouth and screamed. Again I could feel my thoughts melt, I'd never felt so pure.

I was engorged in flames, they sought me, they were trying to conceal me, crush me, smother me. I would not let them. They would not take me over, not yet, not ever. I collapsed to the ground, amazingly I was not burnt in the process, but I was breathless, speechless, screechless. My eyes grew glazed and I could just make out the faint silhouette of a girl. A tall thin girl, the kind that appeared in magazines, the kind that everyone wanted to be.

She stumbled towards me, arms outstretched, she beckoned me. My sight was fading still and my breaths were becoming shorter and more painful, though the girl would not cease from her effort to help me, to save me. She was determined. I did not know who this angel was. Or maybe she was a demon, summoned by my wicked ways, here to punish me for my wrong-doings.

'We must leave! We must leave now!'

Her voice was that of an angel, though her face was blurred and she bore the resemblance of an evil. Through the fire and flames I could just make out a face maned by golden hair. The same gold that had sat before me in the lecture about Tim the cancer patient. It was the girl who had smashed my dreams.

I immediately struggled to my feet, my vision returned and I was granted an eagle eye . The girl smiled and looked deep into my eyes and I stared into hers. They were beautiful, through the musk and darkness of the fire I could see two pale blue (almost white) circles glittering. Her perfect heart-shaped face was crowned with a fringe of blonde.
Despite her beauty, she was ugly. Ugly to the extent that I was boiling, fuming, exploding. She looked alarmed, and staggered away to stand against the counter. She propped herself up on her left elbow and spluttered, fit to burst.

The demon had returned, he was controlling me. This girl, this beautifully ugly girl must be destroyed. She must. She must!

I wobbled over to my saviour and gazed at her face. The demon forced my hands to clasp around the poor girls neck. She struggled and writhed and panicked, though still the demon would not persist, but had her in a death hold. He was unwilling to let go, he would never let go. Still I gazed into her pale eyes, she parted her pink lips and tried to speak, but only a rasp escaped her. She was dying, she was taking her last breaths and she knew it, but she would not give up. She was determined.
I wanted her to let go, I wanted her to end her torture. The demon would not persist, he showed no mercy, he destroyed her. I watched the light die in her eyes as she took the last painful breath. A long sigh of relief.

She fell to the floor like a bag of potatoes, and her head lolled.

She was dead.

I stared at my hands. What had I done? What had I become?

...

Now, I wait for the day when the guards come to end my wretched life. I am to be hanged for my crimes, though do not pity me, it is the least that I deserve. Time in the sanitorium helped me to discover the girl's innocence, and myself for that matter.

I never did find out her name. Though what good will that do me now? My soul can never be saved. My heart will always be burdened with the guilt of killing a nameless girl. A beautiful nameless girl. One that had done me no wrong. My arrogance and greed had led to my downfall, the girl was just a mere symbol. She was a sign that I'd ignored. Now I must pay that debt.

I am eternally sorry for what I have done. Please forgive me God, for you are the only saviour I have now.