by Gail Denham

Sun lit the brilliant yellow bouquet; petals
reflected on the polished table. Their fresh
beauty mocked me. Yellow! That was me,
a coward. I had to tell Robert the truth, send
him spinning. Or perhaps, like the flowers,
I was fooling myself.

Innocence radiated from the blooms. A light
breeze moved their petals. They lived in the
moment, not knowing that petals would soon
shrivel and drop, leaving a faded brown center.

Robert would doubtless charm another partner,
someone who didn’t care that his pipe odors
soaked into clothing. Someone who wouldn’t
groan inwardly at his endless stories of himself.

A new girl might not shudder when Robert stroked
her hair, then let his fingers wander down her blouse,
like creepy snakes, “accidentally” unbuttoning,
pressing his other hand against her back until
she couldn’t breathe.

A new girl would slap Robert’s hand away, ask him
to lose the pipe, bar him from stroking, make light
of his sensual, crude searching. She’d be brave,
not cowardly yellow, like I had been.

The sun moved away. The bouquet kept its perky
flavor, ready for whatever. It probably did not
dream, as I did last night, a great yellow frightening
scene of what lay ahead, what I must do.

I banged the table and a petal fell. A good luck charm.
No more putting it off. I’d tell Robert tonight, then grab
my coat and run. I plucked a blossom, held it to my
sweater and prayed for courage.

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