Dallas stroked the petals of a yellow rose—Aella’s favorite. He sat next to the rose bushes alone, stroking petals and gazing up at the stars, waiting for her return. Everyone else was asleep.
They’d had beautiful times. Even when Aella had left a couple of times before, Dallas had always felt that she would come back by nightfall—and she always had. This time, he wasn’t sure.
Eventually, Dallas lay down and fell asleep. He slept and he dreamed.
In his dream, Stella and Aella were lying on a bed of red rose petals, playing with each other’s hair. It’d been a while since he’d heard Aella laugh. Dallas himself was sitting a few feet away. For once, Stella wasn’t in a hurry to rush to him and shower rose petals on him or anything like that. She was having fun with Aella. Dallas chuckled.
Aella sat up. Stella picked some petals put of her hair. Both girls looked at him. He smiled. Aella stood up and started towards him while Stella stayed put.
“How do you like this place?” she asked, smiling more brightly than he’d ever seen.
“I like it,” he replied.
Aella put both hands on his cheeks and patted them. “You don’t seem so happy.”
“You love it here. That’s what matters.” Dallas kissed her forehead. He smiled tightly, because even though he was in a dream, he remembered what the circumstances were in real life. When he realized this was a dream, he knew that it would soon end. So, Dallas scooped her up in his arms, wishing to enjoy every last moment. It was in her laughter that he woke.
The bells of her voice still rung in his ears as he opened his eyes.
“Boss!” Stella hissed, crawling into his cave inconspicuously.
“Stella? What is it?” Boss rubbed his eyes groggily and sat up.
“Where’d Aella go?”
“Don’t pry into other people’s business.”
“Did you banish her?”
Boss didn’t answer.
“Why did you banish her? Dallas doesn’t like it.”
“Of course he doesn’t. Go back to sleep, Stella.”
Stella growled. “I’ll search for her myself and bring her back.”
“Wait!” It was Boss’s turn to hiss, but Stella was already out of his cave, tying up a braided ponytail.