In the gray day the rose was perfect, studded with little rain jewels, that upon plucking fell like diamonds to the ground. He sang softly to himself through a small smile on the way home, dashing in puddles, the rain playing on his face. He burst in the front door and passed through the living room into the kitchen, where his forlorn wife sat.
He slid to his knees, clutching the green stem in his beaming smile. “O the dismal and dreary day brings bright tidings…” he drew the rose from his teeth with a flourish and lifted it to her upturned nose. She sniffed at it distastefully and turned away, revealing a pale neck luminous in the stuffy light. He longed to nuzzle its length, inhale her quiet musk.
She looked back at him with dark brown eyes.
“Did you get it at the market?” she said, averting her gaze again.
“No,” he murmured tenderly. He smiled at her neck. He took her limp hand. It was cold. “I picked it out myself, by the pond.”
The rose lay on the floorboards until the next morning when the maid was by to sweep it out.