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Three Red Roses

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When Fenris saw a flower he saw more than just petals. After 10 years of working at ‘Fen’s Flowers’, he knew flowers were more than just pretty, they told stories, shared secrets, apologized, celebrated moments, and comforted in a loss.

He built his little business up from the ground, starting with just two buckets of roses he picked in his stepdad’s garden that he sold on the corner of the street when he was 16 to the booming little flower shop in the heart of Kirkwall. 

During this time he had gotten to know many of the townsfolk by watching what they bought for who and on what occasion. He regarded them all with casual interest, following the twists and turns their lives take them on. He never commented when a cheating husband bought two sets of flowers, only smiled politely as anniversary flowers were bought, and complimented the choices of those who came by once a week to buy flowers for their homes or businesses. He always kept to himself, always kept clients at a distance - all except for Anders. 

 

Anders had been his very first customer. It was his second day standing on the corner after school with his two buckets of roses, holding them out hopefully to every businessman or housewife that passed, but never got as much as a second glance. Then he spotted the boy approach. 

They were classmates, but barely spoke. Anders was tall, funny, had blond hair up in a messy ponytail, and his smile was all braces and freckles. Fenris felt his ears droop, he had feared someone from the school finding out and picking on him for it, but Anders took one look at Fenris' flowers, smiled brightly, and pulled out all the money he had on him to buy three red roses. Fenris looked up into bright golden brown eyes alight with mischief and kindness, flushed and thanked the boy.

 

A year later, valentines day.

Fenris’ little stall had grown from two buckets and a table to three tables in the corner of a popular coffee shop. Anders waltzed in with a big goofy smile on his face. He carefully selected a bundle of daisies in yellow and pink, asking Fenris to tie them up nicely as he had saved a whole month’s lunch money for this. Fenris bit back the unwelcome pang of jealousy and politely asked who the lucky lady was, to which the doofus just grinned and blushed. 

The next day at school Fenris rounded the corner when he spotted a familiar bundle of flowers, crushed, tossed at the foot of a dustbin. A gaggle of snickering girls were walking away. Fenris looked the other way to see the back of a tall blond boy, head low, shoulders slumped.

Three hours later he watched the same tall blond walk to his bike, only to freeze when he saw three red roses with a note tied to the handlebar. He read the anonymous note aloud to himself: 

Roses are red - Violets are blue.

Can you keep a secret? - I’m in love with you.” 

 

Another year later, graduation.

21-year-old student teacher Mr Karl Thekla stopped by to buy a big bouquet of colourful carnations and pink lilies. Fenris had found it odd, he wasn't aware that Mr Thekla had someone special, and by now he knew of nearly every couple (public and private) in town. However, Mr Thekla was nice and kind. He handed the flowers over with a smile.

Later that same day as his classmates took off their robes and said their goodbyes, Fenris searched the crowd for a familiar mop of blond hair, only to see Mr Thekla lead Anders to a secluded corner of the garden. Karl seemed nervous as he spoke while Anders’ eyes doubled in size. When Karl finally smiled and handed Anders the flowers, the high school graduate flung his arms around the man’s neck and kissed him soundly. Fenris looked down at his own little bundle of sunflowers, took out the card that read ‘Anders’ and handed it off to the nearest person before leaving alone.

 

Flowers became snapshots of Anders’ life over the years. A celebration of a new job, a housewarming gift, an anniversary present, an engagement congratulations. 

Wedding flowers - birthday flowers - sympathy flowers - funeral flowers. 

Karl’s illness and passing were mourned deeply in the little town, but none mourned as deeply as the young widower, Anders. 

 

In the few years that followed, Fenris only saw Anders once a year when he bought flowers for Karl’s grave on the anniversary of his passing. Fenris put extra effort into the bouquet, using gentle and comforting scents and soft colours. But eventually time passed and Anders’ eyes slowly regained the light it had lost. 

 

10 years after Fenris made his first sale, 9 years after an anonymous not, 8 years after their graduation, and 5 years after flowers on a casket.

Fenris’ heart was racing and his palms sweaty. He waited on the bench outside the clinic where Anders was to finish his shift any minute. In his hands, a  beautiful bundle of three red roses with a note. Determined to deliver it in person this time.

He stood as he saw a familiar mop of blond hair in a messy ponytail, eyes lighting up when they meet his with the same brilliant smile he fell for when he was just 16.

“Roses are red - violets are blue

10 years later - I’m still in love with you”