Flowers of Fate

Stone Bench

The boy ran up the lane, his thoughts filled with a sweet tension. What would she say? How did she feel about him? Did she know he loved her? His heart beat faster, and his hands were hot. The wind whipped around him, trees sighing like his heart as the leaves moved against each other in waves.

Far away, men sat in a room filled with another type of tension. Pride fought with fear, and anger contended with both. Would their preparations go unnoticed? Were their plans subtle enough? Would they live to see the next minute? A technician pressed switches, and two men grimly stepped up to the console, produced twin keys, inserted them and twisted.

The girl walked along the street, almost skipping. Her heart was light and without care. Her hair was long, black, and braided on the sides. Her eyes were brown with golden flecks, and her skin smooth and olive. Her best feature was that she did not know her own beauty.

The boy slowed a little, out of breath. He needed to bring a gift. There was a flower stand, and he saw a rose of uncommon size. It was pink and red with violet streaks, and he knew that it would be fitting. He emptied his pockets, and gave his money to the vendor, who seeing his fever returned a few coins with a smile.

Lights raced in lines along the console, and the room shook. Men leapt to their feet, and as the fire blossomed outside, they cheered. Their country would join the ranks of the wealthy and powerful. They too could reach far and crush those they opposed. The blood ran hot in their bodies as the flames rose and diminished. They called to their God and praised Him by way of praising their own ingenuity.

She stopped for a while and watched the ducks glide along the pond, and then turned her slim wrist around and saw it was time to meet him. Her pace quickened. She found herself in a favorite place, a lane of cherry trees, the blossoms falling like snow around her. She turned around and stared up through the blossoms at the blue sky.

He held the rose in his hand, the green paper crinkling as he walked towards the park. His sharp eyes saw a tiny form, spinning among the cherry trees. He ran one hand through his short black hair, and wished he was taller, and his face less round. He touched his chin, and almost turned away. Courage blossomed in his heart, and he walked faster.

The fire climbed higher and faster, orange and red becoming blue and cold. When it was no larger than a dot from the ground there came a splash of white and red and blue, shimmering in the stratosphere like a ribbon as the larger portion fell away. The hopes and fears of the men crossed into space, where the sky was darker than their hearts, and the fire spread out into the vacuum like a ghostly violet orchid.

She pirouetted once more, and reached up to the petals, and made a wish with her eyes shut, long lashes over her smooth eyelids, and her mouth forming a perfect bud. She slowed, and felt a hand touch hers. She knew the touch, and her eyes flew open in glee. It was he, and he held her fingers with a delicate grip. The girl smiled, for her wish was true. He came.

The rose he held behind him for only a moment, for he blushed and brought it out. Her eyes shone with a pure light, enjoyment and not greed, and he loved her even more. Her delicate fingers took the rose, and she brought it to her nose, and closed her eyes. He held her hand more firmly, and they walked between the trees, the cherry blossoms falling around them.

It spun slowly as it separated, its cover falling away like leaves behind it, and tiny jets sprayed here and there to slow its rotation. Silent here in the darkness, the sun rose behind the limb of the Earth and rainbow colors surrounded the small cone as it reached its zenith. Gravity won over momentum, and it arced downwards. First violet, then orange and yellow streams washed along and away from it.

The couple found a stone bench at the end of the path, a little away from the rest of the park, and they sat on the cool stone, only their hands touching. The boy knew what he wanted to say, but a cold hand seemed to grip his heart, until he looked in her eyes and whispered to her. She brought the rose up to his face and leaned towards him, for she knew. She whispered back to him and the world seemed to stand still.

The wind buffeted the cone as it slowed, and complicated things began to happen inside. A steel rod pushed two pieces of metal together, a tiny computer calculated speed, altitude and position, and made a decision. Strong pulses of electricity, exquisitely timed, raced to their destinations, and fired the many small charges in a graceful symmetry. The device disappeared, to be replaced by a light and fury too powerful to have a color, as death unfolded for the city below.

She kissed him, her hand in his, their bodies yearning towards each other, the rose almost forgotten in her other hand. Their souls met, their love was all there was, and they passed from this perfect bliss without pain to the other side of existence as their world disappeared in a white wave of heat and light. Trees, buildings, and all life were swept away.

The only solid object remaining in the park was the thick stone bench, and as the ashes fell like the cherry blossoms before them, the light of the sun broke through the gritty clouds. If anyone had been there, they would have seen the shadow of the lovers burned into the stone of the bench, and faintly an image of a rose in a shadow of a hand.

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