The vase had a crack in it. It wasn't a very large crack, merely a small splinter. The water inside didn't leak out, and the four roses that it held remained cheerful and bright, their crimson petals greeting the owner happily as he cupped one and stroked its petal ever so gently with a content smile on his face, a card propped up before the vase. He left behind one glittering strand of gold draped gently against the flower petals. The next day, the splinter cracked a bit more, and one bead of water rolled down its smooth blue surface. Still, the roses remained ever vigilant, and tilting their faces toward the shining sun, they began to bloom. The golden hair string that linked them together remained. Laughter and happiness burst from the kitchen that they were in, and they chittered along with the delighted squeals coming from the living room.
The roses opened a bit more over the next days, and the crack grew steadily wider. Shouting voices rose within the rooms, and there was the loud slamming of a door. One rose began to wither and die away. The boy slumped against his door as his visitor grabbed his trench coat roughly from the coat rack, and left with another slam of the door. Distantly, the sounds of crying began to leak through the wood, and one petal fell to the table. The golden thread slipped slightly, then held. There was the opening of the door one more time, the clanking of metal. A soft voice speaking in misery gathered the boy into his arms.
One rose was thrown into the trash can the next day. The tail of a red coat floated out the door, the clunking of boots seeming heavier than ever. Two petals floated to the table, and the rose cried out in sorrow as it saw its life floating away right before its eyes. When the boy returned, the rose was dead already, and little drops of red dogged his footsteps. He too, threw the rose in the trash can, before collapsing onto the sofa, to the soft strains of a melody that his mother used to sing him, a leather gauntlet stroking through his hair. However, he fell asleep doing nothing but regretting.
The bandages that unraveled into the sink the next day were red.
A petal dropped from one of the two roses left in the vase.
Shielded faces confronted in the office. Masks made of concrete, one made of anger. One hurting, and one unwilling to forgive. Loud, shouting, and the distant feeling of bile coming up a throat as the room began to spin and spin, and he couldn't breathe. He could feel his heart pounding in his ears, and his feet hit the floor roughly, and he kept running faster and faster, golden eyes wide, his braid flying out behind him, the band slipping from his hair, his fast shallow breathing, that smell filling his nose, and the world was crashing down on him, piece by piece, it was shattering—
—another flower petal fell. The crack widened again, and three drops of water began to run slowly down the side of the vase.
The boy picked up the phone, and hesitated, his hand lingering over the dial. He looked small, defeated, in a large cream colored knitted-wool sweater, a nostalgic scent clinging to it and he was falling all over again. He quickly called the number. The dial tone rang, and rang, and finally through what seemed an eternity, somebody picked up.
"Hello, Mustang residence."
"Ah. Uum, Roy, about today….I—I…"
"Do I know you?"
Beep. Beep. Beep.
The boy felt to his knees. The crack widened a little more, water falling like the tears falling from the boy's eyes. Five more petals fell. That night, it was cold, and unforgiving.
The next morning, the boy threw out the withered third flower.
The boy finally understood, and he was ready—he'd be done in several days. He came to blows one last time with the man. He opened his mouth, lips parted to give his apologies, to hang onto that one, desperate last thread of hope. And he was struck down.
"Don't even try. I won't listen to anything you say."
As the boy left the office, the man thought he heard a voice whisper by his ear.
There was nothing left for him.
When the boy returned home, he raised the vase above his head and threw it to the floor. It impacted with linoleum tile with a loud crash, and shards of ceramic flew all about the kitchen floor. The last flower skidded across the floor to rest under the fringe of the granite countertop on the floor. Blood dripped from the fingers that had been scratched by porcelain. Tears made small ripples in the puddles of water beneath the boy's feet, as he gathered the last, final rose and went to his room.
The next day, he sent off a package to a familiar address. Chalk lines were drawn, and alchemical lightening crackled and a door was opened.
A black haired man found a package resting on his porch. Bringing it inside, he opened it with a box cutter. Inside rested a wooden frame. Inside was a circular cardstock frame and inside it, a single pressed rose. Deep crimson were its petals, a verdant green its leaves. A beautiful sketch of a rose, red color pencil, shaded faintly.
The childish letters had been scribbled down with the familiar penmanship that drew doodles in the margins of reports and insulted the man on refrigerator post-it notes. Grabbing a trench coat, he dashed away, hoping to get there on time.
He didn't. All that was left: a human relic with no memory, a red tattered cloak, a silver watch.
And the single framed rose that he prayed to every night.