My fingers still around smooth, lengthy stalk, my gaze trailing between it and the group of its kin. Slowly, almost apprehensively, I slide the lone office rose in the vacant flute.   A perfect fit.   Twenty-three roses.   One for every year I've never received

      I toss my phone with an exhale that's simultaneously charged and deflated, exiling it to the plush embrace of the comforter. The impromptu three-way with my cousin and best friend served to only drain me further instead of calm my

      I lie awake, eyes cast to the ceiling, sleep-deprived brain cells imbued with the past twenty-four hours on repeat, my body still humming from last night. The grueling lapse since my charity date with Zane hasn't tempered the erratic state

        In the fullness of fractured time, the biting resonance in my head begins to wane, the pounding in my chest gradually subsiding until I can finally manage to suck in some semblance of a breath.   I grapple to get a hold of

      Strained eyes swell through immobility, bulging in their locked position.   I go static. Every last part of me collapsing. My body unable to bear its own weight. Even the most basic, anatomical movements become obsolete.   One moment rolls into another. And then

        I exhale.   Mostly by default.   But the sense of relief that takes shape doesn't feel remotely as satisfying as it should with the sheer ignominy twisting alongside it.   Readily averting my gaze, I reach for the 21 Questions game, the urge to stick

        Tight.   Everything feels tight.   My chest.   My limbs.   Even the air around me.   A woman with any semblance of worth or moral standing must be adequately covered up. Decent at all times. All my existence, through childhood, adolescence and insipid teenage years, the lesson of