Valentine Short from Alison Bruce

Whine and Roses
By Alison Bruce

I shouldn’t hate Valentine’s Day, but I do.

It’s the busiest day of the year at Petal Power. Only Mother’s Day comes close to the money we  make, but is a distant second when it comes to volume of sales. It’s the roses of course. Unless their sweetheart has a particular love of tulips or daisies, roses are the go-to flower of the day.

Everyone knows that roses mean love. Red roses mean romantic love and possibly hot sex for the giver. Pink roses get the approval of the parents of the recipient, especially if she is under sixteen. They symbolize innocent love.

I pointed this out to my daughter Heather’s boyfriend, adding that white carnations mean the same thing and are a lot cheaper too. He’d have money left over to take her to dinner... as long as they stick to family restaurants. I knew my daughter had saved up to take him out to a movie. They’d have a wonderful romantic - but not too sexy - evening out. And I would be selling roses until closing and going home to an empty house.

I shouldn’t feel so sorry for myself. On the whole, I had it good. When my husband was alive, he brought home flowers from the shop every night. I had a big vase on the dining room table. What was in the vase reflected a week or more of messages. Iris for appreciation. Orange blossom for eternal love. Purple hyacinth when he was asking forgiveness or holly when he wasn’t, but he wanted to make peace.

Every day could be Valentine’s Day. Now no day was.

Yes, behind my retail smile, I was having a pity party.

“You must be tired.”

Damn! We were already past closing and I had a heavy bag waiting to be dropped off at the bank.

It was my daughter’s history teacher, Mr. Greer. Really nice man. He helped her complete grade eleven history last semester, when my daughter was laid up with mono for a month. He acted as the go-between, collecting up work from her other teachers and delivering it to the store every couple of days, and taking away the work she had completed. Time permitting, we talked about Heather’s progress, what was going on that day and traded professional trivia.

Now that Heather was back at school and had a whole new set of classes, I missed our meetings. It was meaningful adult conversation with a man that didn't require dating - something my daughter, friends and relations kept insisting I start. The idea of dating gave me the heebie-geebies.

I smiled. “The day is almost over. What can I get you? Just don’t ask for roses. We’re sold out except for pre-orders.”

“I did pre-order, but it wasn’t you I spoke to.”

I didn’t remember seeing his name, but we made up a pile of pre-orders last night. I turned to my assistant manager, Camilla. “Have we got a pre-order set aside for Angus Greer?”

She shrugged. “Doesn’t ring a bell. Maybe it was Lily.”

Lily had left early. She had a hot date with her soon to be fiancee. . . we hoped. Lily was popping the question tonight.

Camilla went and checked the walk-in fridge behind the counter. In a couple of minutes she poked her head out. “Could it be Agnes G.? Half dozen damask roses with apple blossoms and forget me nots?”

“That’s mine,” said Angus. “I just hope my reference for Medieval flower meanings is correct.”

While Camilla rang in the order, I searched my memory.

“Let’s see... damask roses are the ‘ambassador of love’.  Apple blossoms used to be a standard part of bridal bouquets because they were thought to bring good fortune.”

“And the promise of better things to come?”

I nodded. “That would work. Forget me nots are easy. You could also use rosemary for remembrance, but that might overwhelm the scent of the roses.”

“I definitely don’t want memories to overwhelm the roses.”

Angus tapped his credit card and the last sale of the day was made. Camilla gave me a hopeful look and I nodded.

“Go. I’ll lock up.”

“Can I help?” Angus asked.

I gestured at the flowers, feeling the self-pity well up again. “Don’t you have someone waiting for you?”

“No. I’m the one waiting and, if you let me help, I won’t be waiting as long.”

Copywriter, editor and graphic designer since 1992, Alison Bruce has also been a comic book store manager, small press publisher, webmaster and arithmetically challenged bookkeeper. She is the author of A Bodyguard to Remember and other novels with mystery, romance, suspense and sometimes history involved. 

You can find her here, on Facebook, Twitter (@alisonebruce), Pinterest, and working at Crime Writers of Canada as their Publications Manager.

Coming up...

February 15: Kevin Thornton