Withered Rose

River crouched in the corner of her room; eyes wide, hands on head.

Roses, Rosa damascena, had thorns. Pink, red, white, beautiful as a rainbow in the summer sky, all had ugly hurtful protrusions.

River used to be a rose once, dancing around in her gown of pink. Simon was her thorns, chasing away boys-and girls-with cold words and shooing hands. Protected her. Still protected her, but she wasn't pure, whole, any longer.

The blue had stripped away the thorns, leaving her bare as they tore at her petals, ripping them to shreds.

When Simon came back for her, the thorns grew again, protecting her from everyone now, not just interested suitors. River doesn't mind, safer for everyone to think she's the princess locked in the tower rather than the dragon.

But when the new petals grew in, after she left the cold of the box that smothered her sun, replacing the dead, tattered ones, they were wrong, crumpled and withered. Roots picked up nutrients but the way to the flower was blocked by debris.

Simon couldn't see the damage she could, thought it was shock from the trauma. Didn't know until Ariel, but even then he closed his eyes. If you can't see the monsters, they can't see you. River knows that doesn't work, tried it enough there to disprove that childhood theory.

She knew she was broken, withered. Got up to look in the mirror, needed tangible proof, not just the mutters and broken phrases her ravaged mind supplied.

Stared into the mirror, searching for wrinkles, deadened pieces crisping and curling as they turned brown.

Skin was smooth, flawless. Mirror mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?

It lied, always lied. Perfect face trapped in crystal. Have to cut out the tumor, causes disease.

Hit the mirror and watch it fall, silver pieces spreading across the floor, shattered like her. Broken, irreparable, not able to be fixed. Maybe now it would show the truth.

Her hands stung, hurt, and when she brought them to her face they dripped red. Cuts, gashes, torn skin. The room swayed and she closed her eyes, frowning.

Simon was supposed to be the thorns, not the mirror. All logic was flawed, twisted and backwards.

So maybe the mirror was the thorns, protecting the perfect lovely mirror-River? But now they were both broken, so that was wrong.

If Simon wasn't the thorns and the mirror wasn't the thorns, was River the thorns? But then who was she supposed to protect, Simon or herself?

Already tried for Simon, slashed Ape-man with pretty silver so he wouldn't betray them. He did anyways and all she got for her troubles was a stinging cheek and a visit to Simon's horror room.

She couldn't protect herself, the shiny pieces of her that fell of and crunched underfoot when she walked reminded her of that.

River shook her head, logic reversing. She was a rose and Simon was her thorns. Mirrors were made of glass, cause and effect. Don't touch sharp objects River.

Went to Simon to fix her hands and cried while he wrapped them with clean white bandages. All he did was smooth the petals, trying to make them lie perfect and neat like before. Missed all the damage inside. Simon is her thorns, protecting her from the outside, but always forgetting to look inwards. After all, River damages herself more than everyone else besides the blue hands.

Yes, Simon is her thorns, and she is a rose, a dying decaying ripped torn shredded shattered broken withered rose. And when she danced, she danced in blue.