She had not seen it. He was handsome and courteous to a fault. He had read poetry like her father but how was she to know that he was only a carbon copy of the other men in her life? He seemed sweet and apologetic each time his temper flared. She had yearned for a good man. He would be different she thought. Then, that night in the dark, he wanted more than she was willing to give and his evil nature flashed in his eyes. The push did not bruise her but it opened her eyes and she saw what might be. Her world collapsed as he stalked away. She left the rose still fresh on the front doorstep…it’s whiteness had reflected on her face when she lifted it. She was the only one that used the door so he knew only she would find it. As she read the poem that spoke of love, bile rose in her mouth. Her mother had stayed behind when she received a rose and a poem because she felt the movement of the baby growing under her heart. That note had been placed between the leaves of a precious book and revisited in her mother’s moments of pain. For her mother there was no hope of escape.
But that was in another time. Her mother, dead now, left behind a legacy of repetition and anguish. Each generation yielding to a white rose…grandmother, aunt, neighbor remaining in a trap of repeated violence. Things had changed and she believed that she could do what all the others had not done. She could flee.
It was Sunday evening when she left. The train was late and the station stood empty. When the bench grew hard she moved to the window and looked into the night. A car drove down main with it’s lights on low. The neon glowed over the pool hall door and her father sat with the card players around a table in the back. A single rose bush bloomed by the motel entrance. She turned away when she heard the train nearing the station.
“Miss, you’ll git yerself left behind if you don’t hustle!”
She met the other woman stepping off the train. Her hat was pulled over her eyes and a bruise on her arm told the story of another man in another town. It was then she knew what the future held. She would only find the same poetry performed on a different stage. She did get on that train but in the end she found that the only way to survive was to be less like her mother and more like her father. She began reading poetry and learned to do with her eyes what he had done with his fists. And she was always beautiful and courteous to a fault.