The clock chimed 5 and Seymour switched the shop sign from “open” to “closed”. Mr Mushnik was out the door, and he was left with only cacti for company. He settled in for another evening of Chinese takeout, pruning, and general tribulation.
Seymour did have a lot of reason for such tribulation – an orphan, stuck on Skid Row, with only a basement room and some well-looked after petunias to show for. Boy, that’s the sort of despair they write plays about, Seymour thought to himself. But the real reason for his gloom was also the one thing that brought so much joy to his life. His last thought as he fell asleep, his first thought in the morning. Sweet, sensitive, beautiful, kind, intelligent, strong, brave, and brilliant.
No, not his prize-winning petunias. It was Audrey.
She was, in a sense, both the light and darkness of Seymour’s life. She brought light in her smile, her tinkly twitter of a laugh, her terminal optimism and willingness to give so much of herself to others without asking for nothing in return. Yet she was also darkness in that she could never know because she would never feel the same. And he carried this secret admiration, this respect, this love, with him, every day.
So, he would sit, and eat chow mein, and prune, and generally tribulate.
It was a Thursday, which meant Audrey had the day off. In between sweeping and listening to his radio dramas, Seymour liked to imagine what she’d done with her day. He looked forward to hearing Audrey tell him these stories, because she was much more sophisticated and interesting than he was. Sometimes it was ordinary stuff. She’d watch I Love Lucy reruns, then catch the J train and do her laundry, make it back in time for the afternoon news, clean until dinner, wait for Orin to call, then go to bed. But sometimes she would save a little extra spending money and do something nice for herself, like head uptown to pick out a new dress, or go to the beauty salon. It made him smile to think of her treating herself like she deserved to be treated. Not like how her wannabe-greaser boyfriend treated her.
He loved how her face would brighten up as he asked her about her new baby pink nails, and she’d explain the whole process of preparing the nails so that the polish could be laid down, and her idea process behind the selection of the colour. She was a very thoughtful and smart girl and those Friday morning conversations showed her spark at her best.
However, some Friday mornings, instead of baby pink nails or a new dress from Barker’s, she’d have gained a purple welt to her face, or big blue rings around her little wrists. Audrey didn’t say very much about how she’d spent those Thursdays. Seymour guessed it wasn’t spent at the salon.
It frustrated Seymour. It enraged him, because, Audrey wasn’t weak. It takes strength to carry on and come to work after being left with marks so physically and mentally deep. But despite her resilience, she was still trapped. No matter how much he wanted to, Seymour couldn’t exactly chop Orin Scrivello up into pieces with an axe.
All he could do was be there for her. So, he would ask her about her Thursdays.