Flower Show

By Shelley Burbank

Victoria Cabot Perkins-Whales couldn’t keep her hands off the flowers. They seduced her with their silk-cool petals, their stamens full and heavy with golden pollen. The scents, oh god, the vanillas and spicy peppers and mints and earthy loams and even the pungent stink of some of the more exotic lilies–they drove her to a heady madness, and her fingers stretched out, to fondle and stroke at each booth. She couldn’t help herself. She didn’t really care if anyone noticed.

So, of course, someone noticed.

“Please,” a voice said from behind her as she walked her fingertips over the plants in a nostalgic English garden: larkspur, lavender, rosemary, dianthus, daffodils, roses. “Keep handling the plants. By no means pay attention to the signs.”

Turning her head, Vick patted a thick spray of lavender whose flowers released the smell of her grandmother’s all-purpose anti-fungal spray, freshly-ironed sheets tucked onto on a bed on a hot August night, and her favorite bubble bath. “It’s lovely,” she said, ignoring the sarcasm. “Are you the landscaper?”

He stood beside her. “Yep,” he said. “Pete Morrison Landscaping Design.”

He had dark, curly hair and glasses, a blue Oxford shirt, jeans that sagged a little too loosely through the calves. He was short, maybe a couple inches taller than her five-foot-three. Not too handsome. A little preppy. A little nerdy. Cute.

“It’s just lovely,” she said again, turning her attention back to the jumbled masses of yellows and purples, pinks and greys. A few scattered birdhouses, a bench, and an archway covered in small, dense pink roses aroused a longing she couldn’t help but express. She sighed. “I feel as if I could walk right into a storybook garden, sit down near a rock-lined pond…” she flipped her long, blond hair over her shoulder and gave him a smile. “Maybe kiss a toad.”

He blinked, dazzled. “It’s, uh, traditional. I won’t win any prizes for originality, but I think on the right property, with the right house and the right person, it works.” he said. “But seriously, stop crushing the lavender.”

She tucked her offending hand into the pocket of her grey skinny jeans and extended the other. “I’m Victoria. I like traditional.”

He shook her hand. His palm was rough, his fingers strong. “Here,” he said. He let go of her hand and pulled a leather case from his back pocket, withdrew from the case a small pair of clippers. Leaning over, he snipped a daffodil at its sturdy, lush, green base. He held the flower out to her. “Try holding onto this instead.”

She lifted the soft petals to her lips, inhaled the delicate scent, slipped the flower into her floral bag where the glowing yellow blossom hung over the edge. “Any suggestions for a patio container garden?” she said.

“Call me,” he said, holding out his business card. “We’ll talk.”

January 25, 2014

–476 words



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