He picks her flowers on his way to work.
Pink confetti rains down on his head, a secret smile tugging at the corners of his lips.
‘Who is she?’ I wonder as I pass him. Our eyes meet and a million stories swim in his topaz depths.
I imagine her joy as he presents her with the plucked embodiment of his love. That beautiful bunch of ‘I saw these and thought only of you.’
Perhaps she is a new lover, dark hair tumbling over a crisp white pillow. He leaves her sleeping, admiring the way her ruby lips curve deliciously, pouting through vivid dreams. He longs to wake her with kisses, but resists. She needs her rest. She wakes to find the blooms laid beside her, the heavenly scent a promise for the night ahead. She must wait the whole day to thank him with her satin touch.
Maybe she is his wife. He has picked the same flowers that he presented to her with shaking hands on their first date. He creeps up behind her at the kitchen bench and spins her round, close to his chest. The years have seen them grow together, through heartache and tears, through triumphs and exhilaration. The small betrayals of everyday life melt away into their story. He strokes her face as he passes the bouquet to her and she smiles at the secrets they share. She smiles because the flowers, like their relationship, are full of promise, returning year after year to radiate their beauty to the world.
I wonder if she is an elderly neighbour; alone these days, her once-bustling home echoing the ghostly laughter of days gone by. He visits her on his morning walk, delighting in the way her world lights up at the sight of him. The flowers are a lifeline for her. They are a reminder that to someone, she is still somebody; a somebody worth a riot of colour and beauty, even as her own is slowly dulled by the passing of time. She glances at them throughout the day- a canvas of tenderness, a reason to keep going. They are hope.
Does he collect them for a love from his past? He is a pilgrim on a sacred journey to pay tribute to her. He visits her grave, silent with moss and memories, and lays his precious bundle at her feet. Does he tell her she is remembered, always? The flowers are ethereal against a stark reality: she is gone, and will never rejoice in their soft morning scent. They aren’t enough, and can never be, but they are all the comfort he has in this moment.
As I watch him stretching up to find the perfect addition to his beautiful bunch, I realise that perhaps it doesn’t matter who she is after all. She is me, and you. She is him. She is anyone who needs a moment of kindness in a world that isn’t always kind. She is all of us, and we all deserve flowers, once in a while.
First Published on Elephant Journal here.