"I can't pick it up."

Kate bent over the stove, trying to reach the keys that fell behind it. Her lithe arms carefully wove in between the pipes and metal shards protruding from the back of the stove. Mike sat and watched, not really offering a hand, but more or less checking out her ass. It was morning, and he was horny. She knew that for a fact.

"Move. I'll get 'em." Mike finally moved from his chair, pulled the stove away from the wall slightly, and reached behind for the keys, grasping them so tightly that one of the keys sunk underneath his fingernail. Wincing, he lifted them and handed them to Kate. She took the keys and sat back down at the table. The sun shone through the only small window in the room, and the warmth of a summer day gave Kate a better feeling on life. Her kitchen was a mess, though; ever since he moved in, things had become so much more sloppy and grotesque. In fact, so had he.

Snow had fallen. Kate and Mike were out together for a date. The warmth of pasta fagioli and good company kept the cold at bay. They talked for hours, laughed and conversed about life and how much it was affecting them. The night went so well for both of them, and they promised each other another night out together, alone. Things were blossoming at a time of year when the most beautiful flowers withered to frozen corpses of beauty. Yet they both flourished together, for a time.

Kate got up from the table, and started the dishes from last night. Beer cans and glasses were scattered about the house, trash was spilled in the hallway leading to the bathroom. Kate heaved a heavy sigh and began the process of making up for last night. She felt a sort of peaceful solace in cleaning. It was almost metaphorical for her; the cans were her sins, the glasses were her empty heart. She filled the glasses with water, staring through the clear, distorted view of her emotions. Then, just as a shimmer of bright light shone through onto her brow, the glass was emptied, poured down the drain like a Friday at 3 AM. Fill. Empty. Repeat.

"So you work today, right?" Kate turned to him and replied with a nod. Saturdays were her long days at the store. She looked down at her hands. The thorns from her beautiful roses had given her wounds that would never heal, and yet she returned to them every day, speaking coy words to them and feeding them as if they were her offspring. Yet flowers were her zen. The smell, the care required, the peaceful bud that blossoms nocturnally. It was euphoric to her, and even though it was a job, Kate longed to be there, away from what her life was.

Mike drove them home this time. She invited him inside, and so they ran from his car through the pouring rain, not caring for the icy water penetrating their clothing. They kissed on the doorstep, desperately wanting to be inside together, but not caring due to the moment. Cold water, warm lips, starless sky. The door was unlocked, opened, and closed behind them. And then, sunrise.

Mike didn't offer to help. He left the kitchen, and Kate heard the television turn on. She wanted to scream at him, but today was not that day. She wanted to scream for over a week now. It had been that long since he scarred her, since he whispered her name as they slept. Not Kate's name. She hurt so much, and wondered how long she could hold out, how long she could keep quiet and stay calm. This was a pain unlike any other, and yet Kate allowed it to continue. It was the fear of being alone again. She hated it, and wanted to run from it, and even hide in a false love.

The recycling bin was full. Kate set the cans on the counter, making a mental note to take care of them later. She went back to the sink, and looked out of the window. Her flower bed had been neglected lately. The lillies had almost died out completely, and she knew that replanting them would take time. Footprints were in the mud near the end of the bed, remnants from last night's guests. She sighed again. "Mike, could you come take these cans out to the recycling bin out front?"

Kate was enamored. Her friends all joked and teased her about her new boyfriend, this mystery guy that they all just met. He seemed very charming, confident, attractive and fun, and she knew they all envied her. She finally had someone she wanted and she knew it. Her mind moved to committment and back again, knowing that she was in love. Love was fleeting, and so was time, but she cherished every moment.

It was nearing noon. Kate took a shower, tidied up her bathroom a bit, and walked down the stairs, towards the kitchen. There sat the empty cans. She rolled her eyes, grabbed her car keys, and threw them into her purse. She glanced out into the living room, noticing that Mike had dozed off again, leaving the television on. She grabbed the remote, turned it off quietly, and snuck out of the door. Kate hopped in her car, and fled to her only refuge.

The florist shop was very busy around this time of year, as most enthusiasts in the area often came by to browse the new bulbs and seedlings that had arrived. Kate breathed in the flora and the fauna, and put her apron on. Her supervisor was in the back, bringing in boxes from today's deliveries. Kate strolled casually to her bench, and sat down on her uncomfortable stool. She grabbed her pruners and some ribbon, and began to work on a few bouquets that had been ordered for tomorrow. She picked up her first rose, and yelped under her breath as a thorn pricked her thumb. A small bead of blood fell and dripped onto her workbench.

It was late, and Kate wanted to sleep. Half-drunk, she managed to climb into bed at around 4 AM, well after Mike had fallen asleep. She rolled over next to him, and placed her chilled hands on his back. He stirred, and muttered, "Dana." She shattered like broken glass.

Kate began to cry. She looked at her thumb, her blood running slowly from this wound. She dare not nurse it. It was time to let her wounds bleed. No more band-aids, no more gauze, no more self-made promises, no more false securities. She took her pruners and cut the head from the rose, watching as something of finite beauty was destroyed by her hands. She began to cry harder, her tears streaming down her face and wetting her apron.

She calmed herself before her coworkers noticed her tears, and as she came to her senses she realized she had done something incredible: she had destroyed something she thought was beautiful. For once in her life, Kate felt stronger. Maybe it was the destruction of something whole, something pure...or maybe it was just a good cry. She threw away the dead flower, and moved on to her work.

Later that night, Kate arrived home to Mike, who was cooking dinner. Kate smiled at him, kissed him on the cheek, and went upstairs to change. She came back down just as he was setting the food onto the table. They sat down, and began to survey the table. Mike grabbed a bowl for salad, and as he began to throw lettuce into the dish, Kate began to laugh. The laugh escalated into a roar, and tears streamed down her face as her stomach tickled. Mike just stared, dumbfounded, with a half-smile on his face. "What the fuck is wrong with you? What is so funny?"

Kate cleared the tears from her eyes, and composed herself, her cheerful face turning into an expressionless stare. "I hate you."