I knew that the rose was poisonous when I laid eyes on it, but I reached for it all the same. I let my fingertips skim over the deep burgundy petals, which are velvety soft against my skin. I close my eyes, savoring the pleasant feeling before I move my hand down and tightly grasp the stem.
The sharp thorns cut into my skin, instantly leeching deadly poison into my body. The burning begins in my hand and quickly spreads up my arm. Within minutes, it will spread to my heart and cause it to stop.
Within minutes, I’ll see him again.
Alexander didn’t want to breed this flower, but he had no choice. When the royal army came knocking, demanding that he breed a special, unassuming flower to be used in an assassination, he initially said no. It was only when they held a blade to my throat that he agreed.
He hadn’t anticipated that his creation would be this deadly. That a tiny nick from the thorn would kill within seconds. He hated the flower, and yet he couldn’t help but be proud of his creation. He was proud even when it killed him.
The army will return soon to claim their precious bioweapon, but I’ll beat them to it. It’ll be the last thing I do.
I ignore the burning and cramping in my muscles and pull the matchbox from pocket. With trembling hands, I strike a match and drop the burning flame into the flower pot that holds the rose. It takes a moment for the flame to catch, but after a few moments it does. My knees begin to buckle as the fire spreads up the stem, first engulfing the deadly thorns. My legs collapse as the petals begin to burn, curling in on themselves as they blacken. Even as the fiery poison in my bloodstream causes my heart to spasm erratically and my body begins to shut down, I’m content.
Alexander would be so proud.
Leah Nova Moss is a writer and aspiring literary agent from the suburbs of Chicago. You can find her on Twitter at @starlight_reads and on Instagram at @starlight.reads.