Everything about me is pain. Severe pain. Maybe I’ve been stabbed.
But why on earth would I have been stabbed? That just doesn’t make sense. Dumb Raisa.
Other guess––I’ve been cut open and stitched together again. Not like that’s realistic at all, but that’s just what I imagine that would feel like.
Okay, seriously, what is going on?
I force my heavy eyelids open. The world is a blur, a very white blur. Lots and lots of white. Snow? What is that beeping?
“Oh my word, Raisa, you’re okay. I can’t believe it.”
I know that voice. I know that face––Peter! My neighbor!
“Oh, Raisa!” That’s Mom, running toward me, throwing her arms around me. Pain jolts through my arms, and I moan. What is this weird clothing I’m wearing? Why does it seem like it’s gaping at the back?
“You’re alive!” Mom cries.
Dad swiftly joins her, forming a group hug. Wait. Are those IVs in my arms? Am I in a hospital?
Images flit through my brain––snow, the silken rose, touching the thorn, a forest of red stalks all around me. Goodness gracious. Did that all happen? And why can’t I remember how it ended?
“You’ve been unconscious for a day,” Mom says. “I’m just happy you’re alive.”
“And the roses are all gone now,” Dad says, “thanks to this young man.”
Peter saved me? Really? I don’t even know what to say. His cheeks are splotched red, and he scuffs his foot against the hospital tile. “It was nothing,” he mumbles.
“I seriously doubt that,” I say.
They fill me in on what happened after I went unconscious. I almost pass out at the thought of Peter being so high up in the air. I know how tall that rose grew. It almost took all my blood.
Maybe I really was cut open and stitched together again. Ouch.
I must’ve gotten a blood transfusion. So there’s a lot of new blood inside me. That’s kind of weird to think about. But what if it means the bloodroses are gone? Goodness, I hope they are. But I have to know for sure.
“I need to see if it’s gone,” I say. “Do you have a knife or something?’
They all stare at me with wide eyes.
“Raisa, you just woke up,” Dad says. “Don’t you think you need a little more time?”
“I need to know if it’s gone,” I repeat. “Please, someone. Peter, do you have a knife?”
He blinks rapidly. “Uh, yeah, a pocket knife.”
“Please give it to me.”
“Raisa, honey, you’re being irrational.” Mom grabs my hand. “Recover, relax. You need your rest. Then we can worry about––about the magic inside you.”
I widen my eyes and stare up at Peter in the most adorable way I can. “Please?”
“Um…” He coughs a few times, then pulls out the knife and hands it to me. Perfect.
“Raisa! Give me that!” Dad reaches for it, but I tuck it away from him.
“Raisa, this is ridiculous. What if it’s enormous? What if it breaks through the walls of the hospital?”
“The first one was tiny, Mom. It was only after I touched the thorn that it grew really big.”
“You touched the––?”
“I need to try.” I’ve never opened a knife before, but I figure it out pretty quickly. Wow, that’s sharp.
“Raisa––!” Dad reaches for me again.
I press the tip of the knife to my palm, wincing as it slices into me. Even after almost bleeding out, I’m not used to the feeling of pain.
A drop of blood rolls off the knife blade and falls to the hospital floor. It hits the ground. And… nothing.
“Maybe it needs soil,” I say.
“You can’t go outside,” Mom says. “You only just woke up––”
“I’ll be fine.”
“You have IVs in your arms,” Dad says.
Good point. “Peter?”
“Um. Sure.” He bows, all cute and awkward, and disappears through the hospital door.
“Raisa.” Mom huffs. “I don’t approve of this. We don’t approve.”
“Yeah, well, you don’t approve of anything I want to do!”
“We’re not trying to hurt you, honey! We’re trying to help you,” Dad says.
“What, because I’m dangerous?” Tears fill my eyes. “I hate this. If I can’t do anything, then I might as well not have even been born!”
“Raisa!” Mom snaps.
My head is starting to ache. I turn my face into my pillow, wishing they’d leave me alone and allow me to live my miserable life in peace.
Then Mom speaks. “You had a twin, Raisa.”
I stiffen. I did not just hear that. “Wh-what?”
“You had a twin. Irene.” Mom blinks rapidly. Dad touches her shoulder and squeezes it. “But then you bled. A rosebush grew and choked your sister.”
No. It can’t be. I’m not a murderer. “But––but––”
“I messed with magic while I was pregnant, and it cost me––and it cost you, too. I didn’t want you to have to live like this.” Mom holds my face in her hands. I’m having trouble breathing. “I just didn’t want you to hurt anyone else. You… you can understand that, can’t you?”
I killed someone. My own sister. My twin. Because my mom made stupid decisions.
It’s not fair. I didn’t ask for this.
The door opens, and Peter walks in, holding a fistful of dirt. “Here’s some dirt, like you wanted. Uh. I hope it’s enough.”
I choke out a strained laugh. “Thanks. You’re the best. You can just––put it on the ground next to me.”
He looks around at our faces, all on the brink of tears. His mouth opens, then closes. Then he sets the dirt down next to the hospital bed. “Uh, are y’all in the middle of something? ’Cause I could go––”
“It’s fine.” I tear my eyes from him to my parents. Mom is actually crying now. Maybe it would’ve been better if I had died. That way we wouldn’t have to worry about this anymore.
“Please, Mom, Dad, let me see if it’s gone. If it’s gone, then I won’t hurt anyone else. And if it’s still here….” I swallow hard. “I’ll just have to make sure I control it.”
Then I tip my still-bleeding palm over, and a drop of blood falls onto the dirt. Seconds tick by. Mom grabs my uninjured hand and squeezes.
A tiny plant begins to sprout, slower than the last. It’s got the same ruby-red petals, but they’re smaller, less alluring. And there are fewer thorns too.
“It’s still here!” Mom moans. “Oh, honey, we have to destroy this thing before the hospital finds it––”
“It’s smaller,” I say. “I think maybe my new blood helped. Like it diluted the magic or something.”
“I guess it is.” Peter squats next to it, peering at the plant. “It doesn’t look as freaky or dangerous.”
“Neither did the other,” Mom says, “but it was very dangerous. Oh, what’ll we do?”
“Keep diluting my blood,” I say. “Keep letting it out bit by bit and destroying the roses. Then maybe I’ll finally lose the last of the magic.”
“You think so?” Mom sniffs and wipes away the tears with her hand.
“I suppose that could work.” Dad puts his arm around Mom. “I don’t know if you’ll ever truly get rid of it, but it might be better, less powerful, less dangerous.”
I kind of like the idea of having a little danger in me. It makes my life more interesting than it’s been the past thirteen years.
“Raisa?” Peter says.
“Just, um, please don’t touch any more thorns.”
I giggle. “Never again, Peter. Never again.”
“Bloodrose” is finally over! I’ve been waiting for a year to be able to say that. It feels so good to be done.
I hope you enjoyed my Sleeping-Beauty-and-Rapunzel-inspired story! Now onto the next story. 😉