*Short story originally written for The Iron Writer Challenge in which no more than 525 words could be used to write a story involving the following elements : an Osiria Rose, a photo album, a talking piano, and a novel. 

I originally wanted to take the story in a slightly different direction, but this was a wonderful example of how tough it can be to operate within a limited word count. 

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this! Please let me know what you think in the comments – I welcome any and all feedback!

 

Paul was a hell of a gardener.

Our first date, he gave me a rose I’d never seen before, he called it an Osaria Rose. It was gorgeous; deep red tips with white centers. I had never seen anything like it and was impressed that he’d shown initiative to be unique.

It wasn’t until our fourth date that I realized the unique roses weren’t just some cute trick – he seemed genuinely obsessed with them. When I saw his entire backyard was immaculately landscaped with multitudes of rose beds, I thought it was really cool that he had such passion for something.

He even kept a photo album scrapbook with various roses and magazine articles. I’d listen to him talk about the importance of rich soil and proper planting. He kept odd hours, too – insisting they needed to be cared for at night so the sun didn’t burn off the water.

I rationalized it all away, telling myself that we all have quirks. Everyone has hobbies and obsessions. For instance, my friend’s been dating a guy whose entire livelihood revolves around a comedy sketch with a talking piano.

And me? I’m working on a novel. Yep. Five years now, and I’m sure I’ll get started any day.

Anyway, Paul’s obsession with flowers was completely tolerable… at first.

It wasn’t until after I had moved in and his neighbor went missing that I started to feel strange about the garden and the weird tools in the shed. The fact that he always planted new bushes in the middle of the night.

So last Tuesday after I pretended to be asleep, I decided to watch him. He went down the alley with a wheelbarrow. I couldn’t follow him for fear of being caught, so I waited behind the shed for what felt like hours.

When he got back the sun was almost up, making it easy to see what was going on. He had something big and heavy under a tarp in the wheelbarrow.

I hoped and prayed it was just another bush or some fertilizer, but I began to prepare myself for the worst; a dead animal, perhaps a dead person.

“Paul?” I tentatively stepped out from my hiding spot.

“Meredith?!” He was obviously startled and horrified to have been caught. “What are you doing out here?”

“What are YOU doing? Where have you been? What is going on?”

“Meredith, it’s not what it looks like. I can explain.” He rambled as he began backing away, pulling the wheelbarrow with him.

“Well. Start explaining.”

Paul swallowed hard, he was stalling for time. “I was going to tell you eventually.” He looked down. “I have a problem. I have it under control. But I…”

“Just tell me, Paul.”

“My roses. They’re just a cover up for my real obsession.”

“What’s under the tarp, Paul.”

He hesitated before pulling back the tarp to reveal something I never expected. A massive pile of money.

“What? How did you get that?” I stammered.

“I do… things. Illegal things. But for large sums of money. And I hide that money under the roses. And Meredith. We’re going to be rich.”

 

 

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