All the Way Home – by Karin Sidaway (Adult)

The scent of assorted floral bouquets was almost as overwhelming as the variety. The shop was filled with delicate blooms, hanging plants, single stems, and vibrantly arranged baskets. It was a cacophony of color and fragrance, so busy that I didn’t know where to begin.
“Can I help you find anything?” the young girl behind the counter asked.
I shook my head. “Just looking.”
The girl smiled and gave a gentle nod. She understood. She’d heard this before.
I dawdled near a display of seasonal arrangements. It was summer so the colors were bright. Vivid pinks and purples interspersed with yellows and blues. It saddened me to think that they would shrivel in a week’s time, dried out in their vases, petals plopped on someone’s kitchen counter.
Everything was sad lately.
It was the white that drew me in. Stark and untouched against the shelves of rainbow. It seemed lonely, but unafraid, the bloom barely open.
“It’s a gardenia,” the shop girl said.
“I’ve never seen one before.”
“We don’t usually have them this late in the season. Not like that. They usually finish flowering by early summer. This one’s a late bloomer.”
Like me.
I leaned in and inhaled its scent. It reminded me of my mother’s perfume. Delicate but strong.
“When will the blossoms fully open?” I asked.
“Hard to say,” she replied. “Could be as early as tomorrow.”
I nodded. “I’ll take it.”
The shop girl took the arrangement behind the counter and wrapped it up in paper.
“Would you like a card?”
I glanced at the small cards on the display. There was one for every occasion, but all I could see was sympathy. It would be a shame to sully those pure blossoms with such a weighty sentiment. They were so hopeful. So pristine.
No card. I didn’t want to ruin the moment. The gardenias lifted my spirits. Maybe they would lift mother’s too. All the way home.
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Learn more about the contest which inspired this story:  Nutshell Narratives 2019-04

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