The floral pattern on her cotton dress almost matched the scene around her; Beautiful bouquets filled with gerbera of every shade of the rainbow laced the florist’s counter. Outside the shop’s window, there was snow on the ground.
“Can I help you?” The young man in front of Edie appeared from nowhere. His frown etched itself on the part of her brain that didn’t forget quite so quickly.
“You don’t have to be so rude.”
“You’ve been standing here for fifteen minutes now. I’ve asked you once already if I can help. I’d also like to point out – madam – that this is the third time this week you’ve come here. Not once have you bought anything. Now either tell me what it is you’re after or please, move along.”
He was talking too quickly at her. She stopped listening after ‘madam’, too distracted by the sights and smells. She couldn’t see them, but she knew there were lilies nearby. Their aroma stuck to the tiny hairs in her nostrils.
Her hands were hooked in her belt, as though she could prevent them wanting to roam. She was trying to be on her best behaviour but resisting the temptation to handle the fauna which engulfed her was almost unbearable.
“How many orders do you make up a day?”
“I keep busy.”
“In my day,” Edie stopped briefly to think. When had it been her day exactly? “We used to make up fifty, each of us girls. Wouldn’t catch a boy doing it then. Not a man’s work, they said.”
“Now listen, I really am going to have to ask you to leave. Is there someone I can phone for you, Mrs…?”
“Just Edith, but everyone calls me Edie.”
“Okay, Edie. Did you come with a coat?”
“A coat? Don’t be silly. You youngsters aren’t hard enough when it comes to the cold. In my day we would stroll about wearing t-shirts in January!”
She tried to do a little spin and a curtsy in the middle of the shop, which almost resulted in a statue of Cupid being knocked to the floor. “Plastic anyway,” she mumbled under her breath.
The young man sighed. “Edie. Is there someone waiting for you at home that I can phone to come and collect you?”
A smile belonging to a teenager greeted her face like a toddler to its mother after preschool. “No. He would have left already. He should be here in a few minutes.”
“Ah yes. The elusive Graham?”
“You know him?”
“You mentioned him when you came here on Monday.”
“I don’t think so. Today is Monday. December eleventh.”
“No it’s not, it’s Friday. The fifteenth.”
“Now don’t argue with me, young man. I haven’t lost my pebbles just yet.”
“Marbles,” he muttered under his breath.
“Today is the eleventh and Graham promised me he would meet me here. He even wrote and told me, see?” Edith fished out an old worn letter from her pocket, made soft and flimsy from years of being handled. “Here!”
He gently grabbed the letter. As he read, his eyes became glassy and then, carefully, he placed it back into her hand. “I see.”
“You read it, yes?”
“You read the part about the beautiful florist? That’s me he’s writing about.”
“I can see that, Edie.”
“See this bit:
“‘I shall meet you after you finish work on the 11th because I cannot bear to be apart for a moment longer. As soon as I saw you through the window of the florists’ shop, I knew you had to be mine.’
“He’s talking about me there.”
The young man sighed once again. Not out of frustration this time but pity. “And the year is 1950, right?”
“Well, when else would it be? Says so in his letter.”
“It does indeed Edie,” he smiled at the woman in front of him while trying to envision the woman she used to be. “Listen, why don’t you come and sit behind the counter with me while we wait for Graham? I’ll make us a brew each.”
“Well that’s very kind of you, I’m sure he won’t be long.”
As he waited for the kettle to boil, he fished his mobile phone out of his pocket.
Which service do you require? asked the operator.
“Police. I have a concern for welfare.”
He watched as Edie untucked her hands from her belt and stroked the petals of freshly cut roses.