Rosaline


She had always dreamt of being a painter, but she became one only after she’d killed someone

1611 words · 8 min read

Her father named her Rosaline, a beautiful name. But he hated her, because she killed her mother.

“Little Frank wasn’t like that,” her grandmother would tell her much later. “After your mother died while giving birth to you, my little Frank began drinking. He drank away his fortune, his everything…”

When he was drunk, he would beat her for no real reasons. Once she used a few crayons she got from her art lessons to draw something on a wall in the living room while he was not at home. He returned home an hour later, drunk with a swollen face. When he discovered the drawings, he stormed to her, grabbed her hair, and dragged her to the wall.

“How dare you!” he shouted at her.

She fell to the floor after he slapped her face, leaving her right ear half deaf for a while. She sobbed and sobbed while trying to say sorry, but every word coming out of her mouth merged with her cries and formed an incomprehensible utterance. After he sobered up, he would say a few nice words to her, as if repenting, but short of saying sorry.

Whenever she went to school with a bruise on her face, she would tell her teachers that she fell over while playing. No one believed her explanation, but she always insisted it was her fault, because she killed her mother.

Feeling guilty for her mother’s death and her father’s grief, she felt obliged to please her father. She stopped drawing on the wall and drew on the floor, which led her father to another outburst. She stopped drawing anything at home.

At school, however, her art teacher, Mrs. Johnson, gave every piece of her work an A and encouraged her to draw. She gave Rosaline a stack of paper and a box of crayons to practise.

“But my father wouldn’t let me draw. He scolded me for drawing on the wall and on the floor.”

“You can now draw on the paper.”

That evening, after finishing her homework, she took out the stack of drawing paper and crayons and drew: birds, dogs, trees, flowers, and so on. She didn’t touch the wall or the floor, but when his father returned, drunk again, he looked at her drawings and said:

“Have you finished your homework?”

“Yes.”

“Have you take your revision?”

“No…” she replied timidly.

He crashed his fist on to her drawing and got mad.

“Fuck you stupid fuck! Fuck! You have to study hard and become a lawyer or accountant or some shit! What the fuck do you think you are doing! Go fuck yourself and read your fucking textbooks.”

She was only nine, and she had no idea how to fuck herself.

Maybe it means to read my fucking textbooks.

So she stopped drawing altogether, but she would borrow books about arts from the library and read them in front of her illiterate father, pretending that she was reading her fucking textbooks.


When she was eighteen, she borrowed a shit load of money to study accounting in university in hope to make a shit load of money. She fell in love with Norman, a petite bourgeoisie with an insincere liking for the finer things of life.

Rosaline and Norman would go to the art museum to admire those paintings hanging on the walls. Norman knew nothing about them, but he pretended to know them without realising that Rosaline knew just all too well.

What a dickhead, she would say to herself every time he said something stupid.

But she loved him, and she needed him: someone to take care of her, not to beat her; and he did love her, take care of her, and lead her to the finer things of life which were not within her reach before, like slightly nicer food, slightly nicer wine, and slightly better taste in books.

She got some odd part-time jobs, moved away from her father’s small, filthy flat, and lived in her own little room in the residence hall. Norman would sometimes stay with her, and she would stay in Norman’s place in other times. The idea of having to make a shit load of money by doing shit she didn’t like wasn’t exciting, but for now, not knowing what her future would be, she was happy.

By some miracle, Rosaline and Norman got into the same company after they graduated; she as the junior accountant, and he as a junior designer.

At the helm of the company was Jessie, the daughter of the late founder of the company, who died just months ago. Rich, young, beautiful, and inexperienced, Jessie was met with scepticism from the older colleagues and jealousy from everyone except Norman.

“She’s beautiful.”

“I’m going to kill you if you say that again,” Rosaline said.

He would stop saying that in front of Rosaline, but he wouldn’t stop thinking that. On the second day at work, Norman had a chance to ride in the same elevator alone with Jessie, and after exchanging a few sentences, Norman thought:

She’s rich and beautiful! I’m going to get her!


Norman hid his affair so well for so long that Rosaline only realised the betrayal when she watched the telly, which was showing a stupid charity event that Norman and Jessie attended together, arm in arm. She couldn’t believe her eyes, because only two hours prior to that live broadcast, Norman said he was going to marry her. The shock discovery paralysed her. She stared at the screen without registering anything.

Fuck him! And fuck that woman!

Moments later, Jessie went to the stage and donated her painting to the charity. An intense bidding followed, and one ugly old rich man won the painting for 5 million, which would go into the charity.

Fuck her! And that worthless piece of shit! Even kindergarten kids draw better than that cunt! That piece of shit? Five fucking million? That old fuck just want to shag her?

“Fuck you!” she sent a message to him.

He never responded, and when she bumped into him in the corridor of the office the next day, they wouldn’t say a word. Norman walked right through as if he hadn’t seen her coming his way, and she looked away as he approached.

What should I do with my fucking life? I still have a fuck load of debt. I lose my greedy boyfriend. I shouldn’t feel sad about losing that arsehole, but why am I so unhappy about that? And that Jessie fuck, a talentless fuck who can’t even draw somehow sell her shit for 5 million? What a fucked-up world is this? Fuck!

Rosaline was sitting alone at the bar table. She was crying and laughing, grieving and rejoicing, and hating and loving.

What is the point of living this life? This is what my father wants, but look at this! What’s the point of it? There’s nothing I live for!

She closed her eyes and put her head to the table, wishing, for a few seconds, that she would fall asleep and never get back up again. But a familiar voice woke her up before she could fall asleep.

Sauvignon.”

She waited until that person left the table to raise her head and look. There they were: Norman and Jessie. The sight of them filled her with rage. From the hand of the bartender, she grabbed a bottle of something and ran towards Jessie, and she hit Jessie’s head hard with the bottle, which broke into pieces, scattered on the floor. Jessie was knocked unconscious and fell. Rosaline picked up one of the larger pieces of broken glass and stabbed Jessie in her heart.


In the prison, she met her childhood art teacher. Now retired, Mrs. Johnson volunteered to teach prisoners how to paint. Ashamed, she pretended to not know Mrs. Johnson. But Mrs. Johnson recognised her right away.

“And now, you can do what you’ve always wanted.”

“What is the point now?”

“What else are you going to do then? Sit here doing nothing for the rest of your life?”

So she painted, and signed her paintings with the initials “R. R.” Mrs. Johnson took the better paintings to sell through an agent, whom Rosaline met one-year into her renewed effort in painting.

“Why the fuck do you come to visit me?” she was both surprised and outraged that Norman became a dealer for her works.

“I am sorry.”

“Have you not tormented me enough? Fuck off! I don’t want to see you again.”

“Listen to me. There’s only one person in this entire world who would deal with your works. No one knows who ‘R. R.’ is, you are nobody. Do you think selling paintings by a murderer is easy?”

“I didn’t kill your Jessie, you did! You forced me to!”

Norman was silent for a moment, rubbing his face with her hand.

“I know, and I am sorry for that. For her, and especially for you.”

“What are you sorry for me?”

“I miss you. After she’s gone, I miss you.”

“Bullshit!”

Back to her cell, she cried.


Three years into her prison sentence, she became ill. In the prison hospital, she went into a coma and never went out of it again.

Now, the paintings signed by the mysterious “R. R.” became the most sought-after works, even though no one except Norman knew who “R. R.” was. After her last painting was sold for ten million, Norman stood before the painting and admired it for one last time.

*I’ve killed Jessie, and now, I’ve killed Rosaline.”

*But she dies rich.”

But he would never know if she still loved her.

 Short Stories    2 Jul, 2016
 Fiction    Art    Short Stories  
Copyright © Peter Y. Chuang 2018

Peter Y. Chuang is a Hong Kong-born novelist and short story writer who’s lived in London and calls Berlin his spiritual home. He has completed the manuscript of a literary science fiction novel, Twenty Forty-Seven,” and is currently re-writing another literary novel, Only You Know What It Means.”