The hallway of the big apartment complex was pitch black. This though, is normal, considering that it is 4 am and everyone living there was ought to be deep in sleep. One apartment though, shone with a dim light from the kitchen. This small light was lighting up the small apartment whole. A rather large figure sat curled up on a small armchair in front of the box television. They held their palms around their nose and mouth like a sort of a breathing mask. This mask also made their breathing more audible. Their breaths were deep and shaky. With every inhale their body shook and made the armchair shake even more under their weight.
“Don’t...”, they whispered as their whole body shook and their jaw clapped together after the first. Now, the abnormality on their eyes became visible. Their pupils stood constricted and non visible to the human eye. Their irises stood out as they were the only thing visible, being a dark blue color.
“Stop...”, another word escaped their trembling lips. Their inhaling soon switched to rough coughing when they tried to take a hit of whatever out of their hands.
“Me-”, another word started but got interrupted by the high-pitched ringtone of a phone. A small phone lay on the table in front of the armchair they were sitting on. Irritation shot up through them as they reached out to their phone. The nails of their other hand digging into the leather of the armchair. The chair was visible to have some signs of such behavior from even before. Some of the leather from it faded and some even having little rips in it.
“Who is this?”, they shot up her question and pressed the phone up to their ear. This startling the person over the line as they heard a soft thump from over the line, as if someone fell.
“Hey, Rosa? Sorry if I’m interrupting you or anything-”, the voice began.
“Yes, you are interrupting me, say what you are calling me about before I throw the phone, Theo.”, Rosa said. Empathy lacking from her voice.
On the other side of the line was a pretty small man. Seeing him from afar someone would think of him as a 10-year-old child, as his height enhanced the effect. You would only realize he is in his mid-twenties when you noticed the blonde stubble. Though this feature would be hardly visible from afar.
“Hey, hey Rosa calm down! I called you because of Adam.”, while saying this the blonde’s voice started to decrease. In a few moments the man sounded like he was about to cry.
“Oh,”, Rosa began, as her face changed from the sour look to a more concerned. Her voice following, “What happened?”, she spoke with concern, in a caring tone.
Now, Theo had bad luck with men. From what Rosa has calculated, every boyfriend he had would leave him in a span of 2 weeks. Now the problem was that this was a cycle. After getting dumped by one of his boyfriends, the blonde often went to drown his sorrow at a nearby bar. Now, every other time (as Rosa has noticed), the blonde would pick up a man in the bar. It took only 3 hours for him to get a boyfriend those nights. Again and again, Rosa warned Theo that this isn’t exactly the best way to find a soulmate, but he never listened. Rosa understood him to a certain degree, though. Theo was an orphan and when the family he grew up in took him in he never could absorb their affection. He never counted it as the normal father and mother feelings, they always felt far too strange to him. And ever since he moved out, he has been searching for someone who will be giving him the attention he longs for.
“He left.”, Theo started as he tried to choke back the tears that were threatening to spill out at any moment. “I don’t know why or when though. He didn’t leave any kind of notice that he will be going anywhere- he packed his things and he is gone.”
“Hey, Theo it’s okay.”, Rosa started, “You can cry, it’s only me and you over the phone, no one is listening.”, she said. Rosa always thought that crying was the best medicine for the mind and heart. This was a little bit of a hypocritical move, seeing she never cried herself.
Rosa always had more of a masculine manner to her, well that from since he knew her. Later, Theo learned that years of being the only dark-skinned person in the town had an impact on her trust. She didn’t like school the first few years as she was still a carefree child and getting left out was painful. She matured quite fast because of that, though, and found the way to keep her education still intact. This followed her throughout high school too. Even though the words of her peers became harsher, she fought with silence. She was fit to fight, but by a sequence of events, she learned solving problems with her fists drew attention. While keeping quiet had people passing by her as if she was one with the wall.
Theo met Rosa in high school, he was generally neutral, in both grades and social status. They didn’t meet in any kind of abnormal way, they met in a group project. Theo was the only one who was willing to actually come over to her house and work along. This shocked Rosa and she still kept herself as far as she could away from him when he was in the house. Theo soon started to come to her out of the blue, often running to her as she was walking back home and rambling on and on. At first, Rosa tried to not to listen, but later joined the conversation and Theo was rather happy over that.
Instead of starting to cry, Theo distanced the phone away from himself. When he did, he let out a loud dry cough, which sounded pretty painful to Rosa over the phone.
“Theo are you okay? Have you gotten sick?”, Rosa asked, becoming even more concerned about him now. Theo was rarely sick but when he was it tended to be bad.
“No, no! I’m good, something tickled my throat there.”, Theo said, his voice a bit croaky. He felt like something was at the end of his throat and as much as it bothered him he tried to hide it.
“You don’t sound too good, don’t go back there I’m going to pack up and come over.”, Rosa was serious. sShe always stayed over at Theo’s house when he ended up getting sick; she was like a mother to him.
“No! Rosa, I swear I’m good! Something got stuck in my throat.”, Theo tried to turn her away from the idea. But Rosa was already writing a note on her phone to visit Theo.
“This could be the illness starting, we better to treat it before it gets worse.”, Rosa said, “Alright I’m coming over, hold on. I’ll be there in 20 minutes.”. She was about to hang up as she heard a silent sob from the other side and then a louder dry cough. This time it sounded like something got coughed out too.
On the other side of the line, Theo had tears flowing down in thin lines on his cheeks. He stared at the flower drenched in blood and saliva sitting on his palm. It looked like a sunflower, of course not in size, as squeezing such a flower out of his windpipe was impossible to do. It was a bit rolled, which was noticeable by the wrinkling and its U-shape.
“Theo? Are you okay?”, Rosa broke his hypnosis as he threw the flower at the wall, the flower hitting it with a quiet thump. Theo was gasping for air at this point. The vines were growing throughout his windpipe and getting rather crowded.
“Rosa… I am a freak.”, he whispered into the phone, a wheeze following soon after,. “I’m a freak-”, he repeated, somehow battling the vines climbing up his windpipe.
“You sound awful, Theo. You are choking! You should call the ambulance.”, Rosa insisted. She hurried to call the ambulance herself on her other phone.
“No, Rosa. I have flowers… The flowers are choking me!”, Theo cried out. He coughed again and another flower slipped out.
“What is happening, Theo? Calm down! I’m calling them right now.”, Rosa tried to calm him down. Though, she lied a little in the process, as she was nowhere close to calling them. She was still trying to locate the phone in the room.
“Rosa, the flowers- Theo is sleeping and I woke up. There are vines growing in my windpipe.”, Theo shouted this time, feeling some of the vines go away. This didn't last long as they returned, worrying thoughts rushing throughout his mind. “Rosa, I’m a freak.”, he whispered. He uncovered the secret to Rosa and was feeling like rosa will hang up on his right at that moment.
“Hold on, Theo, calm down.”, Rosa said as she stood in place, she felt like he struck her in the chest.
“I’m a freak, Rosa.”, he whispered. The room in front of his eyes began to dimmer, but for some reason, he wasn’t passing out.
“Theo, calm down!”, Rosa shouted all a sudden. This made Theo jump up and shiver, his head was throbbing and his gaze dimmed. As much as he expected to pass out at the moment, he was somehow keeping conscious.
“Theo, we are in the same boat here.”, Rosa said in a calming voice.
“All you are experiencing is a dream. It will go away when you return to Theo.”, she said as Theo tried to reassure himself with her words. He repeated them in his head over and over again.
“Theo, this is all a dream. You are going to wake up and there will be no flowers.”, Rosa repeated over and over. Theo managed to get successful breath in and out.
By now his gaze was getting back to normal and he still felt some crowding in his windpipe. His cough was light this time, as he felt as if something was in his throat as he coughed out a soft pink flower onto his palm.
“It’s a cherry blossom.”, he said. Rosa could feel it in his voice that he was feeling much better.
“It’s weird, they come up and die down so fast when I’m stressed out.”
“You are fine now?”, Rosa asked, to be sure that he is feeling fine.
“Yeah, I’m good now. Thank you.”, Theo said with a soft smile as he looked at the clock. “Oh no, it’s almost 5 am- I have been bothering you for the whole night.”, Theo apologized. He was ready to end the conversation right there.
“No, hold on. We should talk about the dream state.”, Rosa started. She still had time to talk with him. She had 3 hours until she had to return back to the body that was lying down in her room. The body in the room, of course, being her, but the actual her, not the dream state that stayed up the whole night. The body that inhaled the anesthesia fumes from her palms.
“Sorry Rosa, I have to get up at five.”, Theo stopped to look at the clock, “But can you at least tell me what ability you have?”, he asked.
“How did you guess I could be having a different ability?”, Rosa said with a smile, “But yes, I have. I don’t know what it’s supposed to be for but I can create anesthesia, fumes and in liquid form.”, Rosa explained. as Theo sat there on the other side of the line, listening with full attention.
“It may have something with me being an anesthesiologist?”, Rosa questioned. She took a quick glance at the clock, noticing it is a few more minutes before five.
“But anyways, I have noticed it becomes toxic if I am in any negative emotion. Once I tried to inhale it to calm myself but ended up throwing up into the sink.”, Rosa muttered the last part.
“Huh, It feels like my ability is toxic towards me. I mean it’s suffocating me every time I’m sad or panicked and I end up coughing out flowers. I have not seen any help out of the flowers, they clog my lungs and windpipe.”, Theo explained over the phone.
“Well, you might find out what you can do when you get into the situation to draw it out.”, Rosa suggested.
" It might be like that, now that you mention it mine is because of the fact that I own a plant shop?”, Theo said. Theo took a glance at the phone’s clock, noticing it was 3 minutes until the alarm was to ring.
“Oh no, Rosa I have to go- the alarm is going to ring soon, I have to run back!”, he said as he passed a quick “Bye!” before ending the call.
He took the phone with him he made his way to the bedroom, looking down at the bed. ‘This is no time to think about your ex, go to sleep’, his mind alarmed him. He sighed and put the phone on the nightstand, once again checking the time. He extended his hand towards his sleeping clone. His hand immediately got sucked in, sort of like a ghost going through a wall. He let himself get sucked into the body, leaving the alarm to wake him up again. Of course, the alarm won’t wake him, but the other him, the one who wouldn’t choke on flowers when he was panicking.
Theo didn’t let Rosa even say ‘Bye' when he hung up. Rosa understood him, though. He was trying to show that he was responsible and capable of running the shop by himself. Though the responsibility sometimes would get too over him.
Rosa laid back in the armchair, not as tense as she was before. She sat there wondering what to do for the next 3 hours. Picking up the book on the coffee table, she laid back in the armchair again as she began to read.
As much as she tried to force herself to read the lines of text in the book, Rosa’s mind kept wandering off. She kept thinking of the anesthesia fumes out of her hands. What has she even got them for? Is it for the sake of this all being a dream? But if it was a dream, she could’ve figured out what do do with the ability, no?
Rosa tried to battle with her thoughts for a while before she put the book down in defeat. She put her left palm over her nose and dragged in the fumes. In the embrace of anesthesia she always had a clear mind, both in real life and in a dream.