There’s a new flower in the vase – I had almost forgotten about it.

It’s bloodred, a violent jolt of colour against a white wall and a bare table. Crisp petals show how fresh it is, and if I focus hard enough I can almost detect a faint hint of fragrance.

This one is the latest in a long line of its kind, a new red each time to commemorate each new breakup, each new relationship that has integrated. The most recent one was not my fault, but this is a a habit that has become tradition over the years. It isn’t quite comforting, but the routine of it is soothing. Predictable.

I’m alone again, the third time this year. I do take some blame: I have always had the tendency to fall too easily, too quickly, for someone, and the end result is always the same: I’m on my own in my empty apartment staring at a red flower. The room spins as I stand, dulled from red wine. Concentration slips from me as I stare at the flower, remembering through a haze what it means and why I’ve placed it there.

Something happens, shifting in my brain, flooding thoughts into a split-second memory, the kind that lasts for the span of a heartbeat before it’s gone, and the near-empty wineglass slides through my fingers and shatters on the hardwood, red liquid spilling bloodlike over the floor.

(red is the colour of love, of pain, of blood; that’s why I accent my rooms with it)

The flower survives until the next week has passed, and I’m not around to see it begin to die. I come home from work one night to find it crumpled, petals drooping and the head bent; the stem losing its healthy green shade.

When I next start a relationship, I place a new flower by my bed. It is the paler cousin to the vivid red, cream-white streaked with pink, and I replace it faithfully. Already, I feel certain that this relationship will not last, just like all the others.

(one day he visits. he sees the flower and asks, “what flower is that?”

i’m tempted to not reply, but if i don’t he’ll just try to look it up.

i look at him through the mirror – fasten my necklace – and slip in an earring.

“it’s an amaryllis.”)

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