She stopped at the flower shop once a month. It was a small luxury she allowed herself. The shop was beautiful. Unassuming outside, it was painted white inside and had a high ceiling covered in lattice wallpaper. Going in was like walking into a garden. If she skipped lunch, she had enough money to buy some loose stems. So, on the last Friday of every month, she traded physical nourishment for nourishment of the soul, and splurged on a homemade bouquet.
The shop owner had come to know her. She recommended simple stems and wrapped them in raffia, more sophisticated than the flowers that grew wild in the fields and along the country roads.
She supposed the flowers also seemed special because she had no one to buy them for her. She was young, plenty of time for meeting somebody, but nobody seemed to interest her. The boys at school were sweet, but vacant.
She looked over the flowers. Strange roses were new to the shop. Their red petals were lurid at the edges but hid a pristine white interior. Her mind wandered to the day she’d met the professor. He was old enough to be her father. It was scandalous to even think of a romantic relationship, although her friends had tittered that he lingered too long looking at her in class.
The shopkeeper looked up over her glasses. “Hybrid tea roses,” she smiled. “Don’t they look different on the surface?”
She imagined them in a vase at a small table, where she and the professor would talk. She liked to listen to him talk. He thought before he spoke. He was intelligent.
She caught herself. Ridiculous, she thought. Others would assume that it was lascivious, another Lolita, or among the more polite, a May-December relationship. . . Her friends would nudge her.
She knew she would never purchase these. They would remain in the refrigerated cabinet in the store. One day, a boy her own age would buy her a bouquet of red roses. They could even marry. No one would think anything of that.