“Rose Embroidery” by Max McMillen

Max McMillen

Rose Embroidery

         She sat at the window, gazing out onto the busy, snowy, city street. On each finger of hers she scratched a bit of nail polish off. Her foot anxiously bounced up and down, up and down, up and down. the clock ticked behind her. It felt loud in her ears. Tick… Tick… Tick. Car horns were slammed on below, but only faint, long honks were heard. Her whole face frowned as she watched birds fly past her window. Six birds. They were in a triangle formation in the sky, with the sixth, uneven one trying its best to keep up on this cold afternoon. She wondered when she would feel free like those birds. When would she get to fly away and have the breeze brush her skin? She wanted friends like those birds, too — friends to drag her along even if she was sad and feeling lonely.

         Suddenly, a crow perched on her window box where flowers were busy drooping and wilting away. He pecked off the leaves of the greying flowers. The crow then turned his head toward Rose. He examined her appearance. She had large, round glasses and a heart-shaped head. Her brown eyes were magnified in her glasses and her lips were extremely petite in comparison. Her chestnut colored hair went past her shoulders and embraced her head. A rose embroidered blanket laid across her lap. She wore a giant, green sweater, black sweatpants, and big, pink fuzzy socks. The crow wanted those socks.

         Rose stared back at the small crow. His face was softly shaped and inviting and warm. It was not threatening nor malicious. He was just there, sitting in a window box, hanging out. His beady black eyes stared blankly at her. Rose felt strangely safe with this bird. With just a look she knew he meant no harm. She sat closer to this window in order to sit with the him.

         He moved closer to the window and began pecking at the glass. He stared blankly at Rose. Clink, clink, clink, clink. His beak jabbed at the window. She did not understand what he was trying to do. She opened up the window and a chilling breeze rushed through her hair and over her face. The crow walked around in circles. She did not understand what this bird was doing. She has never had the company of a bird for this long. Knowing she was not going to move, the bird flew away. She flew out of her seat to peek her head out of the window. He flew in front of her and dropped off a rock.

         “What?” she said puzzled while picking up the shiny rock. She did not need a rock. She had plenty rocks. He flew away again only to bring back a dry stick. Then, he brought a dried up leaf. Lastly, he brought a pigeon feather. These were all things that could be found at a park. Since snow had fallen, she knew these things would be wet, not dry, if they were just found out there. She processed this information. As she did, the crow sat on her lap and stared up at her, waiting patiently. She began to comprehend that he wanted her to come outside. He brought her the taste of the outdoors to reel her out. She did not understand why, though.

         “I cannot go outside, it is too cold,” she whispered. The crow stared blankly up at her. “I also have a lot to do today. Like laundry. I have a lot of laundry to wash and fold.” She paused and looked down at him. He continued to stare at her unfazed. “And homework. So much homework.” She paused again. “Oh and the dishes! You should see the tower!”

         The bird jumped from her lap and back to the window. He walked to the window box, then flew away. She jumped out of her seat and peered her head out the window once again. This time he did not come back. He had no more time to waste on liars.

         Tick. Tick. Tick. The sound of the clock came back. Rose sat down, wrapped the rose embroidered blanket around herself, and stared out the window. The horns of the cars were not as faint this time. They echoed in the apartment.

         Keys jangled outside the front door. It creeped open and then slam!

         “You’re home,” Rose said blankly. The T.V. flicked on, and an older woman with long brown hair and a black business suit on sat down and reclined in her Lazy Boy.

 “Yeah and the window is open. Close it. You’re letting out all the heat,” the woman said in a commanding tone.

         “Yes mother, of course, I am very sorry,” Rose whimpered. Slam! The window closed with a shove. Rose sat back down and bounced her leg, up and down, up and down, up and down.

         “Be gentler! Did you brush your hair today?” Mother’s face became flushed.

         “No, I forgot.” Rose avoided eye-contact. She stared at her gifts from her friendly crow.

         Mother sighed and shook her head. “So, you didn’t leave the house again, did you?” She slammed her hand against her Lazy Boy. Bang! The whole chair shook and the remote fell to the ground.

          “I’m sorry,” Rose whispered as she fiddled with her new, shiny rock. She moved it back and forth from both her hands. Back and forth and back and forth and back.

         “You’re moping around the house too much. You have to get out.” Tick. Tick. Tick.

         “I’m fine, mother. Don’t worry.” Up and down, up and down, up and down.

         “You’re too depressed in here. Get outside tomorrow or I will make you run errands for me,” Mother said sternly. “There are plenty of things I could have you do now that I think about it.” She smiled.

         Rose began to tear up. Her anxiety spiked at the idea being forced to leave the apartment. All she could think of was how terrifying it would be. She grabbed her presents and ran to her bedroom. She hid under her pink fleece blanket. She laid down her gifts, and she curled up into a ball of sadness and loneliness. She was breathless and panicking and crying all at the same time. She was overwhelmed. Once she calmed down and her breath evened out, she sat up. She walked over to her computer desk, sat down, opened her laptop, and began to watch YouTube videos to distract herself from the idea of tomorrow.

After a few hours of mindlessly browsing and watching, Rose found herself in the makeup section of the web. As she observed people apply layer after layer of makeup while talking through the process, she became obsessed. She pulled out her own limited selection of makeup and began to follow along with tutorials. She was overwhelmed with happiness. She loved watching people beautify and then beautifying even herself. Her favorite was lipstick. She was amazed with how many different colors existed for lipstick. Green amazed her the most.

         Finally, Rose found something to make her happy and not feel so lonely in the world. Makeup. She made a makeup blog where she befriended a ton of people and even gained pen pals that send her makeup samples. She can brush her skin with blush and feel absolutely magical. Here is where her freedom lies. Not in stones or sticks or leaves or feathers, but in brushes and palettes and lipsticks and liners.