By Vita Forest
He walked out. The order was made. For her – one dozen red roses. Long stems. Fragrant – none of your greenhouse rubbish. Big showy box (not how they described it, but still, that is what it was). Message – Loud and clear.
For her sister – a mixed bunch, blue and white. There were some roses, but not red ones. White, waxy looking things. Bit of greenery, a few sticks. Modern. A friendly gesture, a peace offering. Recognising she is a bit alternative. But who can resist flowers? (Hope she can’t. She was a bit non-committal so far).
For her mother – irises. She had mentioned she liked them. Reminded her of Van Gogh. Remembering that, he had them throw in a couple of sunflowers for good luck. A bit of Provence, a bit of Mediterranean colour. Message – I listen and take note.
For her grandmother – pink roses and baby breath. Old fashioned. Sweet. Just like her good self. A bit of nostalgia for the old girl. She’ll probably cry. But in a good way.
He crumpled up the bill and threw it in a bin as he sauntered back to work.
Years later, she remembered that day. Her, her sister, her mother, her grandmother. She counted them off on her fingers. They had all been delighted. Overwhelmed. All of them.
But now she saw it differently. He had deliberately chosen to have her roses delivered to her work. For maximum exposure, for the maximum number of people to see them, to pass on the story, to agree with the view from the outside that he was perfect, he was considerate, he was wonderful. There would be no dissenting voices, no note of caution, his tentacles were slipping into every crack. Everyone who could have warned her, who had the slightest doubt, had been seduced alongside her. His charm, the beam of his flattery was infectious. (Like a disease, she thought grimly). It was not just her. It was all her defences too. Everyone who looked out for her. That had been the beginning of the end. The trap had been set.
Now another man brought her flowers. A hand-made bouquet, freshly picked from his garden. They were his grandmother’s roses, still blooming every summer, even after all those years. Every year, he cut back the bushes, every year he was rewarded with new buds for his care. The roses sat in a cut-glass vase alongside a handful of yellow daisies and a sprig of fern. All tended by him. All brought to her.