alexconall: the Pleiades (Default)
Alex Conall, social justice bard ([personal profile] alexconall) wrote2013-08-12 10:49 am

Speaking in Flowers [freebie for the August Fiction Fishbowl]

The doorbell dinged, and Hitomi looked up: the new customer had dyed-purple hair that fell to her brown shoulders, and a nervous look to her. "Hi," Hitomi said, "how may I help you?"

"I'd like to send someone a bouquet," the woman said. "But I don't know what I want in it, except not roses."

"In Victorian England, people gave each other little bouquets that meant different things depending on what flowers were in the bouquet," Hitomi told her customer. "What do you want to say to the recipient?"

The woman hesitated. "We're friends," she said finally. "I'd like to be more. But I don't want to pressure her in any way—"

Hitomi nodded. "So 'friendship' and 'love', and possibly 'I desire a return of affection'," she said. Not roses: "Purple lilac, perhaps? It means the very beginning of love, though not necessarily love at first sight."

"She'll like that," the woman said, certain. "She wears lilac scent a lot."

Hitomi took a pen and notepad and wrote down lilac. "There's three flowers I can think of offhand that mean 'friendship', and one of them's a rose. Let me show you the ivy and the acacia."

*  *  *

The doorbell dinged, and Hitomi looked over: the new customer was pale and black-haired and confident. "I'll be with you in a minute," she said, and turned back to the current customer. "I'm sorry, I didn't catch that—"

"Could you write down what the flowers mean?" the customer repeated. "So he knows."

"I can do that," said Hitomi. Morning glory, for love in vain, and hydrangea, for heartlessness: was the customer describing the recipient or herself?

A few minutes later with that customer out the door, Hitomi turned to the new one, who was examining the herb collection. "How may I help you?"

"I hear you helped Gabriela with the flowers she gave me," said the customer. "Purple hair?" she added, and Hitomi nodded, remembering. Purple lilac, acacia, and jonquil. "I'd like to send a reply."

"What would you like to say?" asked Hitomi.

The woman shrugged. "A lot of things I never had the nerve to say to her out loud. She's beautiful, she's graceful, she's an inspiration, she makes me happy. I'm not sure it's love, not yet...I never have figured out how to know whether it is until I know for sure it's not, anyway."

"I wouldn't be the one to ask," said Hitomi. "I've never been in love."

"That's so sad," said the woman.

"I don't think so," said Hitomi. "I get to help people make each other happy, and to my mind that's much better." She turned to the displays. "Jasmine, perhaps? Yellow jasmine, for grace and elegance?"

The woman laughed. "My name's Grace." She came over to sniff the jasmine blossoms Hitomi showed her. "I think that's the base of the scent she wears." Grace smiled. "Let's start with that."

Creative Commons License
Speaking in Flowers by Elizabeth Conall is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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