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Two-Toned Carnation

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You don’t think you’ve ever felt more anger as you stare down at the bloody petal in your hand. It’s a hideous anger; the type of anger that makes all the younger kids cringe if you so much as walk near them. You crush the petal in your hand, the blood rubbing against your palm as you dig your nails into the delicate material. The petal is that of a two-toned carnation, the edges pink and the inside white. You go to the small sink in the corner of your room. Miss Peregrine installed it a while ago, after you complained of your tools starting to become ineffective from how dirty they were. You wash the crumpled petal off of your hand, and wipe the water and blood off on the dry towel sitting on the edge of the sink. You sigh, and grab a cup to fill with water. You have a feeling you’ll be needing a lot of water in the next few months.

 

“The Hanahaki Disease?” Millard’s voice is tinged with suspicion as you sit across from the invisible boy in the library. “What about it?” Your fingers are laced together in your lap and you look down at them for a second.

 

“How would you know who it is about?” Your voice comes off cold and you see Millard suppress a shiver.

 

“I suppose you would start coughing or vomiting the flowers at the mention of the person’s name. Or perhaps, you would have a couple flowers float from your lips.” He says. “But what would I know? The disease only comes to you when your body is older than sixteen and are in love.” You feel your stomach drop.

 

“Of course. That makes sense.”

 

Your coughing fits have gotten more regular, and your water is next to you at almost all times. You find your disgust of the disease building every time a flower is spat out of your mouth, covered in saliva or bile, and sometimes both. You wish that you knew who was causing this too, but you never really have been very in touch with your emotions.

 

“Enoch? Are you alright?” Miss Peregrine’s voice is too understanding and loving. You take a drink of water so you don’t have to answer, but the water only makes the itching in your throat worse, and you can’t help but start to cough. You leave as soon as it starts, but nobody misses the bloody petal that floats out of your mouth as you run from the room.

 

“It’ll kill you, y’know,” Jacob’s voice is the last thing you want to hear right now. You don’t respond as the raven walks into you room. Instead, you scowl at him, hoping it will make him leave. He isn’t fazed.

 

“You can’t ignore it either.” He continues to speak and you clench your teeth. You barely stop yourself from yelling at him. “You need somebody to help you.” You scoff.

 

“And what would you know about it?” You say bitterly. Jacob doesn’t respond. “Exactly, Portman.” You feel the itch in the back of your throat and you suddenly realize. You stop where you are, hands stiffly holding open the opening in a clay doll so it doesn’t close. You barely manage to spit out a quick “Leave.” Before you begin to vomit onto the floor. The bile churns in your stomach as you puke out flower after flower and soon you’re left a shaking mess on the floor, saliva dripping from your lips. You choose to ignore that the bile is tinged with blood.

 

“Oh my god.” Jacob hadn’t left the room and you tense up.

 

“LEAVE.” Your voice shakes as you scream the word and you hate it. There are tears in your eyes and you feel your stomach began to twist in upon itself, ready to puke out another load of two-toned carnations. Jacob stays in place, his eyes wide open and scared as you begin to gag again. You hold your throat trying to stop the flowers but you can’t, the clear liquid carries more flowers and you are reduced to shambles on the old hardwood floor, choking up flower after flower with the stench of stomach acid coating you while you continue to hurl until there is nothing left in your stomach. When you stop, you are so weak that you fall to the ground next to your throw up, tears coating your pale cheeks and blood softly streaming out of your mouth. You don’t even think to know if Jacob has left before you take a shuddering breath and are sucked into restless sleep.

 

“We can’t remove it.” Miss Peregrine’s words are scared as she stares at you from across the dining hall. You wish she hadn’t brought this up now. The younger children have already started to treat you like a glass doll, about to shatter at any moment, and her talking about the flower growing in your chest won’t help that one bit.

 

“I know.” You say hoarsely. Eyes are drawn to you when you speak, gazing upon the sweater that used to fit you, that now hangs on your shoulders like a rug. You haven’t spoken at dinner for days. “Besides, maybe it’s for the best.” Miss Peregrine stands up rigidly.

 

“Mr O’Connor, you will not talk like that during supper.” She says, voice hard. You let out a dry laugh.

 

“Why? It’s not like you want me here.” Your voice is met with Jacob.

 

“I want you here.” His voice is so quiet you almost don’t hear it. You feel the grip around your lungs and stomach loosen ever so slightly and your heart skips a beat. You remove yourself from your chair and leave, sudden dread pooling into your stomach.

 

“I’m sorry.” Jacob’s voice is small as he stands in the doorway of your room. His eyes are downcast. You don’t reply at first.

 

“You didn’t do anything.” You finally say, watching the boy out of the corner of your eye. Jacob shrugs.

 

“I still feel bad. I know you’re hurting.” He says softly. You feel the itch in your throat and begin to cough. The petals that come out of your mouth are slightly withered, and your heart speeds up.

 

“You like me.” You say in wonder, holding the flower petal. You feel a smile tug at your lips and tears prick your eyes. You feel your stomach churn and you puke out a small flower bulb, decaying. “You like me.” Jacob sits next to you and wipes your mouth of saliva with a towelette.

 

“Perhaps.” There’s a beautiful smile licking at his lips and you resist the urge to kiss him. Jacob leans into the nape of your neck and kisses it softly. “I don’t want you to leave me.”