By Chase Duffy

The roses bloomed elegantly in the makeshift vase on the desk. The petals curled outwards toward the sunlight like welcoming hands as their gentle cayenne-orange color filled the area around the bouquet with a brightness only nature can add. The energetic tones of Miles Davis’ trumpet played over the cool, relaxed beat laid down by the saxophone, horns and drums, all drifting out from the bathroom. The blankets on the bed droop lazily as if they are tired from a long night of work. A male bird bellows a mating song in the ancient trees growing up next to the apartment windows as the female birds chirp their approval. The whole spectacle almost sounds as if nature is showing love to Miles, a man so smooth even birds groove to his songs. A gentle wind comes through the window, rustling the blinds against the many different objects that the lovers have placed on the windowsill. The cans of air freshener and deodorant harmoniously add to the beautiful noise in the room when they are struck by the blinds. The sweet, pungent smell of shrimp, crackling in hot butter and olive oil in the kitchen wafts in through the door, mixing with the comfortable smell of blunt smoke. The sun goes behind the clouds, dimming the room ever so slightly and throwing soft shadows on the walls. A candle burns, crackling over and over again as if it is trying its best to be a fireplace. It reminds the man of Simba’s feeble attempts at roars in the beginning of the Lion King.  On the desk is a jug full of water, a representation of good intentions and bad execution. It sits next to a small lamp that is both insignificant and modern. The man gets up, crossing the cold hardwood floor gingerly as he finds his slippers, brushes off his feet, and slides them on. He then pads over to the lamp, yanking the cord and flooding the corner with light. A spotlight falls on the top of the dresser and the back of the chair at the desk, both overflowing with clothes. They are clear indicators of the transient nature of this apartment and these people, and their lack of space. The man then shifts his attention to the roses. Drawing his face down to one, he inhales deeply and is given a breath of sweetness. He picks up his notebook and thumbs through the pages. Each note brings him back to the place he was at when he wrote it. First he is in the courtyard, surrounded by trees and shrubs and feeling a deep sense of calm after the days meditation. Then he is on the metro, sitting in the back corner of the train as it hurtles toward the center of the city, writing over the noise of the wheels on the tracks and the tunnels whooshing by. Then, a park, the smell of the city and nature mixing to form a weird blend the both calms and unnerves him at the same time, then a plane traveling back to his home, and finally right back in the chair he is sitting in. He closes the notebook, looking at the cover for a moment as he does. “Huh.” He places it gently back on the desk and turns his attention to the full jug of water. Picking it up, he uncaps it and tips it upside down over his lips. He drinks in giant gulps, one every two or three seconds. After about a half a minute, he rights the jug and places the cap back on it, now almost empty. As he sets it down, he jumps as if he has been startled by something. Turning around, he climbs onto the bed and opens the essential oil diffuser. Taking the second lid off, he pours the remaining water into the tank of the diffuser, being careful not to spill on the blankets. Capping the empty jug, the man puts it down and grabs the case of essential oils. He picks up the lavender and eucalyptus bottles, dropping ten drops methodically into the water from each bottle. The surface of the water becomes oily and fragrant, and the sweet smell of the oils float up to his nose as he put the cap and lid back on the diffuser and pressed the start button. Within a minute, the entire room was filled with the sweet aroma that only the man had been privy to just seconds earlier. He took a deep breath in. As he let it go he saw a bright light outside of his window. Thinking the sun was coming back out, he walked over to the window and opened the blinds. The sight he saw made sheer terror and anguish course through his veins. His skin crawled like a fear factor contestant on hard drugs as he gawked at the ever expanding mushroom cloud that was coming from the city. He began to scream for his love, who had gone into work not but four hours before. But he didn’t realize how fast the light was moving towards him. He had seen a mushroom cloud just a second ago, and now all he saw was a sinisterly dark white light, rushing towards him. He felt his breath catch in his throat as his window smashed to pieces and the light enveloped him. The roses in the vases disintegrated into dust behind him as the carnage rolled on.

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