Which was the perfect type of rose? Red? White? Thorned? Plain? Nothing seemed right to him and the vendor was getting tired of waiting for Devin to make his purchase. It was clear the vendor didn’t understand just how important this was; how this simple thing was actually so complicated; it had to fix everything.
“Sir, you have to pick one,” the vendor snapped and with shaking hands, Devin reached for the bouquet of white roses, innocent and thornless, like Zach. He paid, also grabbing an index card off the table and tucking it into his pocket.
“She must be a lucky girl,” murmured the vendor, greedily packing the money into his register.
If only he knew.
Devin scribbled on the card manically, obsessing over every small detail, every word, every pencil stroke he made on the paper. There were just words and words and words; they suffocated him, stealing his voice. How could he articulate this feeling eating him up from inside out? He crumpled the small piece of paper and threw it towards the trash, where all his other drafts lay discarded.
Dear Zach - no. My Zach - definitely not. He worked deep into the hours of the night, the trash across the room, taunting Devin and his failed attempts. He had to re-evaluate; what could he say? Everything seemed wrong, too flowery. Everything just reminded him too much of that night, the blood blooming across the floor, the glassy look in Zach’s father’s eyes after Devin had killed him. He couldn't believe that he had done this to Zach, of all people. The Zach who had warmest brown eyes and the kindest heart. The boy whose smile made Devin’s stomach do somersaults and his guilt a tangible thing.
Devin wasn’t sure when he started admiring Zach. Only that picturing his smile and his angular nose helped him not to think about the blood and pain. It was then that he found the perfect, simple words.
He knew he was dreaming. He knew that this couldn’t possibly be real, and yet he fooled himself into believing it.
Zach was here with him in an old, abandoned park, sitting on the swings and rocking gently back and forth. They were sharing a carton of ice cream, salted caramel, smiling wildly. Even better, every time Zach’s arm brushed against Devin’s, they traded a knowing look. Everything was just how he wanted it to be. He was forgiven. He was at peace.
“You’re eating more than I am. I thought we were supposed to share,” Zach said, snatching the carton from Devin and taking a big spoonful.
Zach shot Devin a softer look.
“Thank you,” he said, suddenly.
“For being there for me, I guess,” Zach said, looking away. Devin’s heart wrenched, and he stood up, grabbing Zach’s hand.
“That’s what I’m here for,” Devin whispered, the guilt gone, leaving just a warm fuzzy feeling in his chest. And when Zach stumbled into his arms, hugging him tight, Devin knew that this was the world he was always meant to live in, the world that he could create. He could make everything alright again.
He woke up, and instantly, he knew what had to be done. He put on his coat, the same one he wore the night of the murder. It only seemed fitting since he would be meeting with the son of the man that he had killed.