GG | ✔️

8. Rozenrood

“What a fortunate denouement. I suppose it is good that you both like hugs.” Duo shuddered.

“Where have you been? Mommy and Daddy were so worried! We thought someone took you away! I’ve been looking everywhere for you!” Una leaned her forehead against Paz’s.

“I was playing! I wanted to see what it’d be like to be an adult! I went to the cinema, first! Then, for a jog in the park!”

“I saw you! But I wasn’t sure that it was you! And I could never speak with you!”

“I’m here now.” Paz’s voice resounded with a hollow quality in the night.

“So many strange things happened, Paz! Duo coughed up this petal and he could suddenly speak! I’ve been following a petal trail all day just to get to you. I made it! We made it!” Una pointed at Duo.

The tomcat was now quietly sitting at her feet.

“Here, I have your backpack!” Una hastily handed Paz a light-blue backpack.

“Here, I have your backpack!”  Paz hastily handed Una a pink backpack.

“You’re not going to believe your ears! Listen to this: I had to fight off the Screecher at Skul. She attacked me with Adjectives, Nouns, and Verbs! I stole a car! And…” Una touched the craft shell necklace with a strange smile. “I kissed a boy! We got married! I think I got cooties!”

“Eww!” Paz giggled. “What was it like?” She leaned towards Una conspiratorially.

“Wet, I think.” Una frowned. “I’m so happy I found you before midnight!”

“Me too!” Paz smiled. “It’s still our birthday!”

“I have just a present for you! Meet Mr. Hugglesworth! Isn’t he darling?” Una pulled the teddy bear out of her sister’s backpack.

“He is, too!” Paz pressed him hard to her chest. “Why, however did you get him?”

“He helped me fight against ANU, a wooden doll!  She looked JUST like me! But she was SO angry! Oh boy, you should have seen that! And Mr. Hugglesworth could even speak for a while,” Una giggled.

“I love him to bits!” Both girls exclaimed the same sentence.

They stomped their feet in unison, mirroring each other’s movements.

“And wait till you hear this! Imperial Icecreams was burnt by projectiles from Countly Cakes!”

“No way!” Paz pressed her palms on her face.

“Yes way! Duo and I helped Rosalinda, the owner! She gave us Wish Your Flavor Icecream, for the road! She made it PermaFrost with a refrigerator she tossed inside! And: when she says Wish Your Flavor, she means every flavor! Just say the words and it tastes however you wish it to!”

“That is awesome! And you saved some for me! Awwwie!” Paz exclaimed.

“There’ll be birthday cake inside but we can still have some ice cream before we get in! Mommy and Daddy won’t know.” Una brought her forefinger to her lips.

“I want it to taste like smiles and warmth,” said Paz. “I’ve been cold and alone for so long.”

She licked the ice cream with the tip of her tongue and sighed. “It doesn’t taste like anything.”

“That’s impossible,” Una said. “Look! If I say: white chocolate, it… yes. It tastes like white chocolate to me.” She nodded fervently.

“I thought it might not taste like anything. Forget about it. It’s not your fault, Una.” Paz shrugged.

“I don’t understand.”

“It’s not your fault that I died.”

Paz motioned towards a cinematic canvas suspended in the air.

Una found herself pinned to the pavement.

Unable to move.

Unable to speak.

She could only sit and watch the projected scene. Just like Miss Woodward in Muving Moviz.

It was daylight. She saw herself run into the house to get a sandwich.

Paz and Duo remained outside.

Duo looked different.

He was completely yellow. He had two ochre eyes.

No trace of black, or blue.

“Come, kitty. Come!” Una could hear Paz say.

Paz pulled the tomcat into an octopusal ferocious embrace.

Duo wriggled out with an angry hiss and swerved towards the open road.

Paz followed.  “Duo, no. Don’t go out there! BAD KITTY!”

A metallic machine maneuvered from around the corner.

The collision of inanimate and animate occurred.

Paz’s body glided up in the air.

Almost as if she were trying to fly, without being hoisted by swallows.

Una wanted to shout out.

To tell Paz it was impossible.

Why, everyone knew you could only fly if swallows took you up-up and away.

Her voice disobeyed her.

Una could only watch her sister float like a child-shaped balloon.

Paz didn’t soar. Her deflated form landed in a rose bush in front of their house.

Instead of air, a trickle of red liquid escaped the balloon’s opening.

It was spirited further and further away from the life source.

Paz’s dark hair was covered in rose petals.

“No.” Una finally heard herself say. “Not this. This hasn’t happened. I never left you alone.  I never came back to find you… Dead.”

Una shook her head in vain, trying to dry herself from moist, nail-like memories.

They were now being forcefully hammered into her mind.

“Oh, but it has.” Duo’s drizzly eyes peered in hers. “You did leave her alone. It seemed like a mere moment. A moment like the longest day. You saw everything happen through the kitchen window, but you forgot. When you returned, she was covered in rose petals.”

“I felt so guilty. For years,” Una whispered.

“Now you know. It wasn’t your fault. It was an accident. If anything, it was mine. And the only thing I could do was to help you with this quest. Aid you in finding your peace. Tenías que encontrar tu Paz,” said Duo.

“I don’t understand.” Una felt the teary moisture wet her cheeks.

“Come, Una. Come!” Paz beckoned, holding a shell-coated box. “Let’s listen to the song of the sea.”

A haunting melody, deep and rich, shot upwards from the shell.

Musical scissors cut through the fabric of reality.

The landscape was now vertically divided into two halves.

To the left, there was Una, in the daylight, Madame Sun above her.

To the right, there was Paz, in the nightlight, Mister Moon above her.

In the middle, there was Duo.

His golden half was turned to Una.

His black half was turned to Paz.

Una approached the divide in the phantasmagorical scenery, trembling.

Mister Moon and Madame Sun were shyly holding hands on their first rendezvous, looking down on them.

“Gold… And black,” said Una, understanding.

“Life. And death. You had the right idea, back there, while we were chasing the Radiant Rainbow,” meowed Duo. “I knew you would… connect the dots. You’ve always been a wunderkind. A proper gumshoe.”

“You are leaving. Both of you,” Una croaked.

It was a statement.

“We must. We cannot dilly-dally. We don’t belong in the sun, after all. It’s here, at this Divide, where Death and Life meet as old friends and lovers. At least for a little while. This was your last meeting with Paz. The rose was the key to unlocking the memory.”

“It hurts to remember.” Una winced.

“But it’s better to know. Everything is ephemeral. Like that blue-butterfly bubble blower of yours,” said Duo.

“I found you both only to lose you again! She was my sister! We were supposed to grow up together! And you! You were my guide on this journey. What am I going to do without you?”

The porcelain vase of Una’s heart cracked along its entire length.

“What is she going to do, she says? There is so much to see. So much to do in this whole wide world. You are going to be fine. You found your feet without me. You got the last three petals all by your lonesome, did you not? At the circus, you even saved me from myself. You did well without me. You know you can do without me because you already lost me once.”

“It was a test.” Una understood.

“Yes. And you passed. You know that you can breathe without no back-up. You can be your own guide. Through every street, every scene, every place you’ve never been. My play has ended. Paz’s play has ended. But yours continues on. Your sun is to shine on your stage more than ever now. To honor the shadow of her memory. Promise?” Duo’s silken tail dabbed at Una’s tears.

“I promise.” Una nodded.

“And, Una. Remember who you are. You are a happy-go-lucky little ragamuffin contaminated with childish wanderlust. Never change. Don’t you ever become a morose wallflower. Always be yourself. You gotta do you. Paz would have wanted that.”

“So, this is goodb…” Una stopped herself mid-sentence. “This is… farewell.”

“Yes. This is farewell. After all, I’ve always belonged in a light-blue backpack. It all began with me, Una, and… It ends with me.” Duo leaped into her arms.

Una pressed him hard on her chest as if never wanting to let go.

“Farewell,” was the last thing Una heard Duo say.

The yellow-obsidian tomcat passed onto the right side of the Divide.

His gold fur became completely black, as the death itself.

His golden eye—pale blue.

Dead Paz and Dead Duo approached the Divide.

Sisters’ foreheads came together for a fleeting moment.

Una buried her left hand in the black cat’s fur. She hugged Paz with her right arm.

And then, they were all set to leave, under the watchful eye of Mister Moon.

Duo’s furry black head peeked out from the light-blue backpack for one last time.


Two vuvuzelas, a pink one and a blue one protruded from the window of Una’s family house, their tongues sticking out.

The pink one said: “Una, dinner is ready!” in her mother’s voice.

The blue one insisted: “Miss Morales!” in her father’s voice.

They turned into two vacuum-cleany vortexes, sucking Una inside her own consciousness.

She was forced to answer the call.

Una opened her eyes.

Green letters on a black screen greeted her.

NAME: Una Morales

DATE OF BIRTH: 2/25/2020











Immerse again?


A droning monotone voice surrounded her.

Log date, February 25, 2055.

Identifying data: Una is a 35 years old Caucasian female, who was referred for a psychological evaluation to determine and eradiate her current grieving emotional status. When Miss Morales was merely 8 years old, she lost her twin sister in an unfortunate car accident. She has been blaming herself for the loss since then on, the intense guilt documented in the months and years that followed.

Reason for referral: complete recovery of memories.

That same droning monotone voice was now directly addressing her.

“Miss Morales. You may remove your goggles, now.”

Una somehow stood up and did as she was told.

“How are we feeling?” A friendly female face peered into hers.

“I… A bit confused but, otherwise, fine,” Una answered in a shaky voice.

“We sure got that memory to swim out on the surface, didn’t we?” The woman grinned.

“Yes.” Una’s reply was mechanical.

“Losing someone we cared about, that was primal to our existence can be overwhelming. Naturally, it results in grief. We experience guilt, too, if we feel it might have been our fault. That we did something wrong. It’s a normal emotion. Dealing with bereavement requires time. Everyone tries to do it in their own way. We are glad you chose our way.”

“I am, too.” Una managed a small smile.

“As you know, ‘Rozenrood’ was a healing program specially designed according to your personal needs. Based on an expanded Kübler-Ross model, our latest method of virtual reality immersion helped you delve deep into your memories. Instead of the old-fashioned pocket-watch hypnosis, you were taken directly to your past. You were very brave back there, I must say. Every Petal Guardian was a manifestation of a segment of your guilty soul. The personification of your sadness. Passing through the stages moved you further and further away from your grief,” the psychologist added.

“I saw my late sister in there,” said Una.

“Yes. That was always supposed to happen. Your advancement helped you return to the moment where guilt originated. You found a positive thought that balanced out and removed your guilt obsession. You managed to recall how she died. You realized you played no part in it. You have forgiven yourself and were able to truly focus on thinking about your loved one. You could imagine telling them how you were feeling. If there were things you wish you had said, you were able to say them. You were also able to imagine what your loved one would tell you.”

“Thank you for your help,” Una heard herself say.

“You are very welcome, Miss Morales. By the way, happy birthday.”

The final handshake the psychologist gave her felt surreal.

Una didn’t remember whether she had actually managed to utter an extra “thank you” or “goodbye.”

She stared at a sleek black business card.


Got Guilt?

We are pioneers in virtual reality psychotherapy!

 We help you cope with your shouldas, wouldas, couldas!

Then Una’s red sneakers sneaked her out of the psychological clinic.

A blond man with square-rimmed glasses was leaning against the red Volkswagen.

He was nervously glancing at his watch.

A golden-furred retriever lay patiently under his feet.

Upon seeing Una, a relieved smile crossed the man’s lips.

The dog stood up, wagging his tail.

They both approached her at the same time.

Una buried her right hand in Buddy’s fur. She hugged bespectacled bae with her left arm.

He rested his forehead against hers.

“Una.” His gentle voice and soft touch insisted. “You okay?”

She looked up.

A stray sun-ray tousled her red hair-strand with a playful, pacifying caress.

“Never better.”

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