Vennen
Christian Golliday
                    

 

    If there was one thing that vexed Annerose Vennen, it would be the mispronunciation of her name. In her days as a university student, she would be quick to correct a professor, knowing that the longer they mispronounced it, the longer the rest of the classroom would as well. Hearing “Anne-rose” would make her shiver. Her hands would ball up into a fist, and her right eye would twitch with rapidity. However, this odd reaction would only last a couple seconds before she would look up and with a forced smile say, “Its Ahn-ne-rose.” She looked as if she was containing some sort of monster within. Maybe a red orc, or the ability to transform into a dragon. The look after such a simple mispronunciation surely left her in a short-lived, disgruntled state.

    Despite that face, Annerose was a subjectively beautiful girl. She was cool and calm, yet eccentric. Often, she would be looking up while walking. Whether the weather was sunny, cloudy, or stifled with thunderous rains, her head would be tilted upward. Her gait was slow, and if you couldn’t see her legs, you would’ve thought she was hovering through the crowds of people on the university campus. Graduation was four years ago, and surprisingly, she has still never bumped into anyone.

    “There’s this flower that always seems to come around when I’m not in a good mood. It starts to feel like a sign after seeing it so much. Like, when you see a certain number or color over and over again. You can’t help but feel like

something of the sublime will happen. Can you guess which flower it is?”

“Maybe a rose?”

“Why a rose?”

“Just a guess. Why, am I right?”

“No. . . Hydrangeas.”

“Hydrangeas, huh. I wonder why.”

“Who knows. But you know what I heard when I visited the flower shop?

“What’s that?”

“Hydrangeas are poisonous.”

    I was never in love with Annerose. It was more of a peculiar interest in her. One spring night, she sat on a park bench next to a street lamp, a stray black cat on the pavement near her. She shaped her hands like a bird and rose them up toward the light, creating a shadow on the pavement. The black cat stared at the bird shadow as Annerose poked at it with the beak. She did this for a while as the cat would walk around a bit, still keeping its eyes on the dark bird on the ground as it pecked them. Who knows when, but at some point a strange sound started to come from Annerose. It was a wet sound almost like chewing. Her head jolted up, hair popping up along with. She smiled and said, “I heard that vultures are a sign of good luck.”

“Do you know why I like this pond?”

“Hmm?”

    “No one ever comes here at night. It’s clean, and the bench gives you a clear view of the ferris wheel in the distance. There are rocks to skip and that little bridge so you can look down at the fish in the pool. And when the stars are out, light reflects off the water more and I feel completely at peace with the life around me.”

    “You can clear your head while you're here.”

    “Exactly. Last night, I had a dream that I met an owl here. It stood on the rock in the pond and faced me while I sat here on the bench.”

    “It just sat there?”

    “For a while, yeah. We stared at one another. It seemed like forever until he flew onto the bridge without making a sound. It was completely quiet, everything was. The water, the bugs, nothing seemed to make a sound. It was staring at me again, but this time it was eating.”

    “Where did it even get food from?”

    “Well, I thought it was weird because he was eating hydrangeas. There aren’t any on that bridge.”

“Well it is a dream.”

“But still…”

“A sign? . . . Let’s go skip some rocks, yeah.”

    Annerose wasn’t very tall, average height at best, but when it came to sports she was top notch. As a girl, she did many sports including gymnastics, ballet, basketball. Basketball was the only one that made it into university with her, but she quit after her first year. Many of the other girls were much taller, making it difficult for her to play at the level she wanted. Her only choice was to practice harder or quit, unfortunately choosing the latter. A few days after quitting, she stood next to a street lamp and marked on the lamp where the top of her head reached. Then, with a pen, she carved in her initials right next to the marking. After, she stood next to this street lamp for about thirty minutes eating orange slices until she turned to the lamp and carved in “little swan.” Apparently, she loved Swan Lake.

“Remember, how I used to call you ‘Striggy’ sometimes. That nickname in college.”

“Like how I called you Rose?”

“Yes, but you actually didn’t mind yours.”

“Yeah, I remember. You randomly stopped using it, but I didn’t ask why.”

“The thing is that I got that name from an animal you reminded me of.”

“Explain after you do your skips. Can you beat 5?”

“5 is easy. . . 4.”

“Better luck next time right.”

“Well, I was still thinking about what I was telling you.”

“Excuses, excuses. Continue then.”

“I called you Striggy because you remind me of owls.”

“The hell does that name have to do with owls?”

“It’s close to the scientific name.”

“Nice to know.”

“Anyway, the owl from my dream reminded me of you a little. The way you

both just sort of stare. It’s odd. Like you're trying to look for something that other people can’t normally see.”

“Sounds like a roundabout way to diss me.”

“It was at first, but then I had to stop after that car accident happened.”

“With my brothers?”

“Yeah.”

“What do you mean?”

“Owls can also be symbols of death in a way.”

“Okay, but my brothers didn’t die.”

“Well, they didn’t…”

“...Oh.”

More times than not, she would wear a skirt. It could be the heart of winter, and there she would be wearing one. She usually wore one of five colors: black, white, grey, blue, and purple. And whatever color she wore on that day, black would be the only other color with that. The only response when questioned about the color choices was that “It’s fun.” One spring night, she walked out of a convenience store and stood outside drinking the bottle of water she had just bought. This one particular night, she wore a white sweater with blue jeans. The outfit was completely and utterly normal; however, the usual style and colors were absent. Was this a sign of something? Maybe she was going through a tough time and just didn’t think about her outfit all. She completely finished her bottle of water, belched, and tossed it into the garbage bin near the store window. Turning around, she took her right hand and pointed to the wording on her sweater: “Calvin Klein Jeans.” She was expressionless. I don’t think anyone would’ve been able to tell what she was getting at just by pointing at her top. She then took her opposite hand and pointed at her jeans. “These are Levi’s.”

“What’s with you and these ‘signs’ lately.”

“I feel like I’m in line for something. I’ve been placed in the queue.”

“For something of the sublime?”

“Yes!”

“But, so far all of these signs have been negative.”

“Vultures are good.”

“Yet, they eat the dead.”

“That doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing.”

“How is that?”

“They clean up in their own way.”

“Hmm.”

“Take a person going through a hard time and no one can get through to

them. A lot of those times, when the person is offered help it'll be denied, not because the person feels that they can help themselves, but because they want a specific person to help or comfort them. If it’s not them, then it doesn't matter.”

“So, the person helping is a vulture?”

“In my eyes, yes. Cleaning up what others at that time cannot.”

“So, Miss Vennen, are you looking for a vulture?”

“Me?”

“You could be.”

“More recently, I may have been looking for one.”

“Then, what about me?”

“You can’t be my vulture... You’re an owl.”

“But, owls are death, right? You make it sound like I'm going to kill you?”

“Well, death can be defined more ways than one.”