Do you know how long I’ve waited to post this?
Well, no, you probably don’t. But let’s just say that I wrote the story a year ago, made major changes, scrapped the major changes, planned to post it in September, received feedback that made me reconsider, made more edits, and now… it’s finally live. I am so ready to be done with “Bloodrose.” I’m not saying I don’t love it; it’s just that it’s been a long journey.
Here is the prompt that inspired such a story:
A special thank you to Maddie Morrow and Rolena Hatfield for their considerable help with the story, and thanks to everyone else for their feedback as well–you know who you are. Also, thanks for waiting so long for me, Laura. I know I delayed this story for a while. But I guess you did the same to me, so we’re sort of even. 😉
I hope you enjoy the first part of “Bloodrose,” friends!
Maybe this time, there will be blood.
“Are you hurt? Are you bleeding?” Mom kneels next to me with wide eyes and frantically twitching hands.
I tug at the thick material of my sweatpants and touch my legging-covered knee. Doesn’t feel like there’s anything wet. “Nope.”
I almost wish that the fall had broken the skin. It’d be a first.
“Oh, good.” Mom’s whole body sags. “I’m glad you’re okay, sweetie. Just be more careful.”
I literally just tripped and banged my knee. That’s all. But you’d think I had narrowly avoided getting hit by a train.
It sure would be nice to see a train in real life and not just on a textbook page.
Mom frowns. Flour dusts her apron. “You’ll be careful, won’t you?”
I roll my eyes. “Yeah, whatever.” Talk about helicopter parenting. Sheesh.
“Raisa.” She plants her hands on her hips.
I roll down my pant leg and struggle to my feet. My knee still stings, but it’s kinda nice to feel like a normal person for once. I glance toward the always-closed window. Small flakes fall from the sky and add to the snow already covering the ground.
I can tell you all about the water cycle thanks to my textbooks, but I can’t tell you what snow feels like. Or rain. Or grass. Or sunlight.
Aren’t I the most pathetic excuse for a human being?
But it’s not my fault. It’s my parents. I swear they think I’m going to break at any time.
“We just want you to be safe, honey.” Mom reaches for my shoulder, but I shrug her away and turn my eyes to the alarm system on the front door.
I’ve stared at that stupid thing for ages. Mom and Dad won’t let me watch when they key in the combination, but I’ve deduced some stuff based on the smudges they leave. Sure, I’ve messed up a few times––I would’ve been grounded except my whole life is inside this house already––but this time, I think I’ve got the right combo.
Or maybe they’ll make things easy and let me go outside. That would be fantastic.
“Your father’s almost home,” Mom says. “Traffic’s bad, you know, with all the snow. But he’s finally past the worst of it. Oh, and the cake is almost done too!”
“Cool.” Dad might cave even if Mom doesn’t.
“I’m sorry he’s late on your birthday.”
“It’s fine.” It’s not like I don’t see him literally all the time.
The timer’s insistent beeping sends Mom rushing into the kitchen. The scent of cake floods our home, and I lick my lips. If there’s one thing my mom does right, it’s cake-making.
Sweat beads on my forehead, and I tug at the hem of my jacket, which is layered over a long-sleeved shirt and a t-shirt for extra measure. Surely Mom wouldn’t care if I took off a layer for a minute. I know she and Dad think all the layers will protect me, but it just makes me feel like a puffball. A very warm, sweaty puffball.
No, I can’t do anything that would make Mom upset. Not today. Not when I’m about to make the most important request of my life.
I wander into the kitchen, slippers thudding softly against the tile, to check on the cake’s progress. No Mom. She cut the cake, though, and left it on the table. The smell is driving me crazy. I wander toward it, wondering if I could sneak a tiny bit without Mom noticing. I mean, it is my birthday cake. Then I notice something silver gleaming on the table.
It’s the knife, covered in cake bits. She’s never left it unattended before. My heartbeat racing, I reach for the handle––
“Don’t touch that.” Mom’s voice cracks through the air.
I shrink back. The knives are the only thing in the entire house whose edges Mom doesn’t cover up, and they’re only out when she needs them; otherwise, they’re locked in a safe whose combination I haven’t tried to figure out. The door combination is more important.
What was that about not doing anything to make Mom upset? Because I think you just totally messed that up.
“Raisa. You know knives are dangerous.”
“Then why do you get to touch them?”
“Because…” She falters. Ha. “Just let Mommy handle the sharp things, okay?”
I scowl. “Mom. Stop talking to me like I’m a baby. I’m thirteen.”
“And you’re still under my roof, so you do what I say.”
I huff. I just wanna know what a cut feels like. That’s all. You can read all about it in a textbook, but it’s not the same.
My parents cover literally every single edge in our house. Not kidding. Nothing sharp here. Nothing that can hurt you. If I fall, they catch me before I can hit the ground. If I have a headache, they shove meds down my throat and make me drink tons of water. No sickness for poor baby Raisa. No pain because she can’t handle it.
I am so done with it.
Mom washes the knife, and I storm back into the living room, waiting for Dad to get home. It’s literally been the most boring day. Mom said I could have the day off from doing school, but what’s the point if I’m stuck inside the whole time? I know every square inch of our styrofoam-covered house, and a parent always hovers over me wherever I go. No fun in that. As for entertainment, I’ve pretty much memorized every fairy tale. They’re the only thing Mom lets me read or watch, which is kinda dumb to me ’cause it promotes rebellion against your parents, so like why are they okay with that and nothing else? And I’m pretty sure I’m failing the reading requirement for school, but whatever. It’s not my fault.
The front door opens. Dad shakes snow off his boots. The glimpse outside sears into my mind––the gust of wind, the falling snow, the darkened sky––but then he closes the door, and the alarm system is set once more.
“There’s my birthday girl!” Dad kisses the top of my head, and I try not to shrink away. “Thirteen! I can barely believe it! It just seems like yesterday since you and––” He falters.
“Since you came into our world,” Mom says.
Gag. They’re just trying to make up for not letting me go outside. “Hey, so I was wondering if I could––”
“Your dad just got home, Raisa. Let him get changed. Then we’ll have some family time.”
How about family time outside?
The minutes crawl by, but finally, we sit down for dinner. I take a stab of pulled pork. “So, like, I know you probably got some great gifts for me––”
“Oh, the absolute best! You’ll love them. But you don’t get them until after dinner,” Mom says.
“Well… yeah. That’s great. Cool. But, like, I was just wondering if… um…” Come on, Raisa. Just say it. They’re both watching me. Dad’s eyes are curious, but Mom’s eyes are narrowing. She knows.
“Raisa––” Mom says.
“Can I go outside?”
Mom drops her fork. Dad looks at his plate. Uh oh. “Honey,” he says.
Here comes the lecture.
“I know you want to,” Mom continues. “But it’s just not safe out there.”
My stomach sinks. They won’t even consider it? “But you guys go outside all the time!”
“We have to. But you don’t. You’re safe here, Raisa. You have everything you could ever want.”
Everything I could ever want? Are you kidding me? I mean, it’s not bad in here, but, like, I want people. People besides Mom and Dad. Also nature. And the world. And everything they’ve been keeping from me.
“Come on,” I say. “It’s snowing. Can’t you at least let me see snow?”
“You’ll catch a cold, dear,” Dad says.
“Yeah, so?” I’ve never had a cold. Never been sick. Whenever Mom or Dad are sick, they always stay as far away from me as possible and use tons and tons of Germ-X and cleansing wipes. It’s kind of ridiculous.
“Being sick is no fun, Raisa. Trust me; you don’t want to be sick.”
“I want to go outside!” I’m yelling now. “Stop telling me what I want and what I don’t want!”
They’re both staring at me like I’ve grown an extra head.
“You don’t know what you want,” Mom finally says.
Okay. That’s it. I kick my chair back and stomp toward the hallway.
“Raisa!” Mom’s voice is sharp. “Come back here, young lady!”
I ignore her.
“What about the presents?” Dad calls after me. “Or the cake?”
I don’t care about their stupid presents or the food or anything. I just want them to listen to me for once.
Tears prick my eyes, and I hurry into my room and slam the door as best I can with the padding. My shoulders shake. I press my lips together to stifle a sob. They’ll barge in if I do that.
“Raisa,” Mom says through the door.
I jump into bed, the springs creaking with the sudden weight. The poles holding up my bed are padded in case I bang my head on them or something, like that would happen. The nightstand and dresser are covered in bright colored foam to cut off sharp corners. It’s so stupid. It’s not the end of the world if I get hurt. I’d rather get hurt than live my life without being able to experience anything.
But apparently I’m just a hormonal teenager who doesn’t have a clue about life.
“Raisa, honey, please––”
“Go away!” I hug my pillow to my chest, clutching it like a lifeline. Tears seep into the pillowcase.
The doorknob turns. I hide under my covers.
“Raisa, I know you’re upset, but––”
“Can’t you literally leave me alone for two seconds?” My voice is muffled from the covers. “Or am I too fragile?”
Silence. Then, footsteps and a closed door. She’s left me alone, which is good but also not. I wanna be alone. But also I don’t. I’ve been alone my entire life. Yeah, I’ve got my parents, but they’re not enough.
I know they’re really upset. I know they probably bought nice stuff for me and prepared what they think is a cool birthday celebration, and I know Mom splurged on the cake, but it doesn’t make up for trapping me in here.
Like, I just want one stupid little thing that literally everyone else can have but me. Why is it that I can’t go outside? What’s different about me?
I thought now that I was thirteen, my parents might understand. But no. They’re never gonna change their minds. It’s up to me to get what I want by myself.
I think I know the combo. Maybe this time, the alarm won’t go off, and I’ll actually get what I want. I’ll feel fresh air. I’ll touch snow. I’ll see people. Well, probably not the people thing ’cause it’ll be late, but whatever. I’ll be free.
“Raisa?” This time it’s Dad’s voice from the door. “Please come out.”
Fine. I’ll smile. I’ll go through the rest of the celebration. I’ll pretend like I’m happy, like their rejection didn’t hurt. I’ll make them believe I’m satisfied with what they can give.
But tonight, everything will change.
Part 2 will be posted tomorrow! Watch out for that. And I hope you enjoyed the first part of my labor of love!
If you want to see another story based on this prompt, check out my friend Laura’s story “Crimson”! It’s a real heartbreaker. 😥
P. S. Can you guess one of the fairy tales that inspired “Bloodrose”?