Waiting with the Flowers

copy-space-2518265_1920 (2).jpgThe 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.

“Now, Edith—”

“Edie.”

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?”

“I did.”

“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.”

Connecting now.

He watched as Edie untucked her hands from her belt and stroked the petals of freshly cut roses.


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About Donna-Louise Bishop

I'm a writer, freelance reporter, creative writing tutor, and blogger, living in the beautiful county of Norfolk UK. In my spare time I am also a wife, a mother to three boys, and a human washing machine.
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14 Responses to Waiting with the Flowers

  1. Nate says:

    You brought the young man’s character arc full circle with this interaction. As a former retail store manager, I identified with his position immediately. The narrative bringing the readers into Edie’s nose and close to her nosehairs stuck out as Ren & Stimpy in the middle of an otherwise bittersweet story.

    • Donna-Louise Bishop says:

      Hi Nate! Thanks for taking the time to read my piece and leave a comment. Ew! Ren & Stimpy! I hated that cartoon when I was younger! Will have to revise that line, hehe.

      When I did dementia training for work last year, it really opened my eyes to how overwhelming is must be for someone living with this horroble condition. What I took away from the training though was that a bit of patience can go a long way to help someone. I’m so pleased this piece gave off all the right vibes I wanted it to.

      Thanks again for your comments Nate. Always appreciated 😊

  2. asha says:

    This was such a sad glimpse of declining mental faculties. Poor Edie. Poor florist too. I was a little confused that initially Edie seemed to understand that she wasn’t in 1950 (she talked of “back in my day”), but then later she seemed to have no idea that she was stuck in the past. Had you done that intentionally?

    • Donna-Louise Bishop says:

      Hi Asha. Thanks for taking the time to comment and read. Yes it had been intentional to do that but I was curious to see if it would work for people or not. I was worried it would be confusing and perhaps your comments have justified that concern. I am hoping to thoroughly edit this piece once the voting has finished so that comment is extremely helpful. Thanks again!

  3. roberta m says:

    I loved this sweet and sad piece. And I am so glad she got to touch the petals at the end!

  4. Lisa Shaw says:

    Hey, I had real empathy for Edie right from the start. This is indicative of good writing. I liked that the shopkeeper changed his tune once he understood what was going on. It was hopeful and I needed this kind of hope in my day. ❤

  5. MichelleH says:

    I loved the image of Edie twirling in the shop. For me, that was the instant where it really hit home that there was something wrong. That image was so sweet and sad all at the same time. Up until that moment, I was a bit confused about what was happening. Edie seemed a bit too lucid and the florist seemed really mean. But I really like that you gave the florist the compassion that you did.

    • Donna-Louise Bishop says:

      Thanks Michelle. I really enjoyed writing these characters and I think I’m going to do more with this piece, so those comments are really helpful.

  6. Laura says:

    I think you utilized Edie’s unreliable point of view really successfully, and still manage to make the florist come across as a sympathetic and rounded character. It’s also heartbreaking without feeling overwrought. Well done!

  7. d3athlily says:

    I was worried at first about how insensitive the florist seemed at the start, but the more the story progressed, the more I could related to him. Dementia is just horrible, and I felt bad for both Edie and the poor florist. I especially loved the whimsy in the twirl. You showed that moment so well in so few words. ❤

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