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The Secrets We Keep: Chapter 2: A Garden of dead Roses

by Briyahna Rice, staff reporter

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The rest of the shop was bigger than Lena had originally thought. By origin, the shop was a beauty salon before it was renovated into a thrift store. But towards the back, beyond the last two shelves is a small corridor, that opens up to reveal three doors on the left side, and toward the right is a rectangular window that depicts a rotting garden, overflowing with weeds and the brown petals of dead roses.  

Despite that, Lena saw nothing else wrong with the sight. All that it really needed was a fresh bit of soil, and plenty of care.The garden was just like the shop and all of it’s open spaces. Her ability to see the forest for the trees made it easier to view it. But in all honesty, could  the existence of her inner being be connected to her secret love for such archaic relics? A guilty pleasure not shared by her school mates, who indulged themselves in Facebook instead of real books?

Another reason why Marie had hired her was because of her attention to detail and open being really change her disposition. If so, was there really a valid reason for accepting Marie’s offer of control, other than the blind happiness of an ecstatic  teenager?  Speaking of Marie, she began yelling Lena’s name from the front of the shop. Lena would have missed it had she been contemplating for much longer.

Back at the front, Marie is stationed at her normal position behind the counter, fondly tending to a stuffed owl, maneuvering the eyes to her liking. At the sound of Lena’s approaching footsteps, Marie raised her head to see her employee.  Lena approached the desk and rested her palms flat on the glass top.

“You needed me? “ Lena asked.  Marie looked her for another minute before going to retrieve something from underneath the  counter.

When she reappeared she held a pen and notepad in her hand.

“A shopping trip, I take it?’’ Lena asked, raising her eyebrows.

“Far from it. You’ll be taking lunch early, and while you are doing so, run out and take up mine,’’ said Marie. At this, Lena said nothing and she could do nothing but watch Marie scribble her order onto the yellow notepad.  Ripping it off, she then lifted up the pad to reveal a bit of money. A $10 and $1 bill.  She took it between her fingers, along with slip of paper, and raised it up to meet Lena’s face.

“That should be more than enough money. Run down to the diner on Liberty Avenue and retrieve what is written on that paper.” she said. Her tone was neither authoritative, nor  was it considered an option. Plain and simply it was a menial task that would be carried out to the fullest, assuming the diner wasn’t crowded, and Lena would find something edible for herself.  With the money in hand, and her coat draped over her body, Lena set out to Liberty Avenue.

The entire neighborhood was cloaked in pure sunlight, as there was not a cloud to be seen. A light breeze blew Lena’s hair down her back. To her, this feeling alone made everything seem right with the world.  Of course that seemed like a cliche  term to use, but was there really anyone to tell her this. Oh yes, there was. That person was  inner herself.

It had been less than a week since Marie performed the separation ritual and nothing out of the ordinary happened at all.  Well, not counting the occasional telepathic conversations and snide comments that her other half made when something caught her eye.  The remarks themselves were nothing to jump, seeing as how Lena herself was thinking the same thing, but what really got her was the side effects of the connection. These include a burning sensation in her stomach,  momentary dizziness, and a terrible headache that required a quadruple shot of aspirin.

According to Marie, it was all just a part of her body’s adjustment to such rapid metabolic changes. Like the garden of dead roses being uprooted, properly resoiled, and replanted.   However, the internal happiness that she felt made up for the also internal pain that she felt. To be in possession of something that people could only dream of having. To know that  if you are ever in a situation where people turn a blind eye to you, and maybe even stop caring and leave you alone, you are never truly alone.

To Lena, her inner turmoil could quickly be turned around into confidence and reassurance. Another bit of advice that Marie gave was that Lena should name this being to give it life, for it to be truly alive. So now and forever on, her inner being went by the name of Lizabeth. Finally, Lena made it to the diner and immediately sought the counter for her food. She sat upon one of the stools and slipped her hand into her coat pocket to retrieve the slip of paper. She scanned over the paper and took note of Marie’s order with little interest. After all, an order of cooked ground beef, mashed potatoes, and string beans wouldn’t take very long to place, so now she could focus on her own lunch.

It didn’t take long for a waiter to approach her; a middle aged woman with brunette hair, frown lines appearing on her face, and the standard uniform of all diner employees.  Without hesitation Lena quickly read the order of of the paper and as fast as she had come, the waiter disappeared to give the order to the chefs.  While she waited, Lena’s gaze drifted from one part of the diner to another, staring at nothing in particular, but taking in all that there was to see. Which was not a lot considering she was in a diner.  If there was one place where Lena felt more at ease other than her own house was outside of her house. Places other than her backyard or bike riding on her block. Just leaving her area and seeing something new was always pleasing to Lena.

Her gaze shifted over to a rectangular box that sat near the end of the  counter, no more than a few feet away from where she was sitting. If it were being looked at from the front, the box was transparent and contained an assortment of cakes and pies that varied in sizes. The side that was facing Lena was made of metal and had a surface that created a reflection.

Staring a bit longer, she couldn’t help but notice that her reflection began to shift and ripple like the waves of water in a tidal pool, distorting her. Lena didn’t need to narrow her eyes to see it clearly because the more she stared, the more obvious the ripples became, until Lena could swear that she saw her reflection smile at her.. At the very least, she was enchanted by this, as it sparked many questions as to what lay ahead in the future.

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