The Most Unusual Thing I Ever Stole?

by Alex Carter

The most unusual thing I ever stole? A rose. A red one, oh, and a photograph.

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I hated that street. It hadn't seemed so bad a few days before, it made me happy being there then, but now, I hated it. Its neat square gardens all regularly cut, weeded and pruned, the oversized houses, the constantly twitching curtains. I think that's one of the reasons I chose to do it at night-time, no curtains twitching. The snow crunched under my feet, tainted somehow since the last time I was there. I could see my breath in the air, the cold stinging my eyes. I remember the moon was out as well, full, bright, my silent witness. It was a beautiful night.

I finally reached it. The house that had haunted so many of my dreams, the cause of all my grief. I knew they were asleep because the heavy curtains were drawn across the bay window. As I walked down the gravel driveway towards the front door I saw it, his jaguar. The urge to smash its windows, scratch its paintwork burning in my body like a hundred forest fires.

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I remember the last time I walked this path, I stood there admiring the car before continuing towards the front door, as if encouraged by the shining porch light. Gently I had rapped on the door, rose in hand. Almost immediately she had answered and I was hit by warmth, her warmth, the warmth of the house. I gave her the rose and she smiled, my heart ached with love. After she had put it in her bedroom, she stepped out into the cold night, wearing bike leathers, prom dress in hand. Even after I had started the bike, her father stood in the open doorway insisting that he drove us to the dance. Laughing, we drove off into the cold snowy night.

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I knew exactly where to look for the key. The little terracotta flower pot. The one with her geranium in. There it was, just as always. I put the key in the lock and turned it. The door opened with ease and I silently crossed towards the stairs. It wasn't hard to get to her room, I knew which steps creaked, where to stand, I even managed to avoid tripping over that pointless crying elephant. I stopped for a moment. The moon caught the glass teardrop and it glistened, just like the tears that had fallen from my own eyes, it seemed more real than ever. I knew that what I was doing was wrong but I couldn't stop, I had to do this.

Somehow, through a mist of tears, I managed to reach her room. Stood outside the door, I composed myself, took a deep breath and pushed it open. The powdery smell I longed for filled me, it reminded me, it made my heart beat again. It was like heaven. Gently I crossed the soft white carpet, past the bed, not slept in for days, my eyes fixed on the prize. There it was in its vase. A red rose. I picked it up and ran my thumb over its silk like petals. I turned to leave but something else caught my eye. In a half open drawer I saw a book. Sitting on the stool, I took it out and opened it. I recognised her writing, the soft, rounded letters. The first picture in it, me and her, smiling. My heart ached for her and I tore the picture out of the album before running out of the room. I was already at the end of the driveway when the slammed shut.

I only stopped running when I reached the car. It wasn't even my car. It was my dads. He would have killed me if he'd of known I'd taken it. I sat there behind the wheel for a moment, just thinking. Looking.

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After the dance, she had changed back into her bike leathers. We didn't want that night to end so we sat there for a while. We sat and looked at the moon, the stars. The moonlight lit up her face, every perfection, not a single flaw, but it grew colder. We must have been sat there for about 15 minutes. After driving for a while, we came to the fork in the road. Despite the danger, the ice, we took Snake's passage. It was quicker.

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I couldn't tell you how long I was sat there for. I honestly don't know but I do remember looking back at the house, seeing her bedroom light flick on, a silhouette in the window. I couldn't help it. I just panicked. I threw the stuff onto the passengers seat and drove off. Not knowing where, just anywhere but there.

***********

I got there without meaning to really. I hadn't been there since the night of the crash, I didn't want to go back. Snake's passage. I'd rode up there a few times, looking for thrills, adrenaline rushes, but not that night.

We were coming up to the turn, it wasn't far to her house but it was a blind corner. I could feel her head against my shoulder. I smiled to myself, I was so happy. Suddenly a car came round the corner. We both braked, but in vain. Next thing I knew, I was on a board with people round me. It was snowing and the moon was still out. I was being loaded into the ambulance when I heard them. Police officers. "Drunk driver, two unlucky kids" one said. I was taken to hospital and checked over. Amazingly I was fine the doctors commented. Just a mild concussion they said, but my heart was breaking. She'd died on the way. Survived the crash, just, but died when they got her into hospital.

Although the waiting room was quite busy that night, I felt alone. Hearing a dull thud, I glanced up to see her parents coming closer to me. I didn't really take in what they were saying to me. Only that they blamed me. It was all my fault. I was allowed home that night. There was one constant reminder for me though. At home. Pressing the switch, I waited for the garage light to flicker on, and then I walked over to my 'precious' bike. I took the sledge hammer to it. Over and over again. Until all that remained were metal panels and pipes, littering the floor.

***********

The day of the funeral came. I had pulled out my best suit, tried to hide my red swollen eyes, cover the bruises. I got to the church bit to my dismay, wasn't allowed in. there was no need for me to be there, I was told. There were a lot of old graves in the cemetery, all covered in ivy and snow. I waited there for an hour, back against the hard, cool stone, and then, from a distance I saw her lowered into the ground and said my last goodbye.

***********

That very same turn was coming up, I could see it all, playing back in my mind, on a continuous loop. My mind and heart were racing. I turned the corner and saw her. She had stepped into the road. She was like an angel. We saw each other but she was caught in the headlights, like a rabbit. I felt her hit the car, I felt my head hit the wheel and that's how I ended up here. I've been told that the girl passed through into heaven, if I see her, I need to explain. It turns out that she was an angel after all, she brought me here didn't she? And well, I was just wondering, can I go through to heaven, Lord? I mean, I've explained what happened, I didn't mean it to happen. I can see her there waving to me, she's waiting for me. Please Father, look I've still got the rose. Well, it was a rose for Rose after all, wasn't it?!

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