“Hello Diedre. How are you love?” Mrs Lincoln the florist asked as she cut off some surplus leaves from a bunch of carnations.
“Pretty good thank you” came the reply from Jennifer as she walked around the light and airy shop.
Today there was a delicate perfume floating through the air that Diedre hadn’t smelt before and she was intrigued. “What’s that lovely perfume I can smell?” she asked Mrs Lincoln, who was drying her hands on the pink and purple pinny she wore for as long as Jennifer could remember.
“Oh, lovely isn’t it. That is the new larger carnation. We have a different grower and honestly, I’ve never smelt anything like it. I could eat them!” and she laughed.
Jennifer loved to walk around the florist shop. It had a very calming effect on her it used to make her want to buy a few acres in the country and grow flowers. But being realistic, what average person could ever do that when they had a mortgage? Too risky to be a grower of any sort. With the job she had, she was assured of getting her pay each fortnight.
Instead, she came in each week, on a Thursday and bought herself a bunch of flowers. She didn’t mind how much she paid for them, it brightened her heart and her dining room, so it was worth it.
Last week it was pink roses, just six mind you, but together with some delicate white baby’s breath, they looked a treat, and the perfume was full and heavy just as roses should be.
She decided on a bunch of irises this week – deep blue with a purple hue. Jennifer loved the haughtiness of them, standing tall and straight and even when the buds opened they never seemed to drop their heads down. They didn’t have much of a perfume but the colour made up for that.
Just as she was about to walk out through the door a man was coming in and she held the door open for him. “Thank you” he said to her “What a lady!” and they both laughed as he walked up to the counter.
Jennifer was interested in what he bought so stood searching for her car keys while watching him. “Hello there” said Mrs Lincoln to him “What can I do for you?”
“Well, it’s my wife’s birthday so I would love a big bunch of colourful flowers thank you” was his reply as he looked around the shop. “They look nice, what are they?” and he pointed to a container of ranunculus - yellow, orange, red, purple, and white heads sitting on top of bright green stems and leaves. “Yes, she’ll love those”.
‘Very nice’ thought Jennifer as she closed the door behind her. “Must be nice to have someone buy flowers for you”.
Then it happened… As she opened her car door, she saw him again. He was across the road and it looked as if he had turned his head suddenly so she wouldn’t know he was watching her.
Jennifer wasn’t even spooked; in fact, she was quite intrigued. He was tall and dark haired and even though he was always at a distance when she saw him, he looked handsome.
‘One of these days I am going to ask him why he watches me’ she thought to herself, then started her car and drove home.
It was her day off from work, the last of two days and she really needed to do some study. She was a nurse at the local hospital and was doing her final exams in three weeks to become a midwife. It was all she had ever wanted to do. The caring gene had come from her Mum who had also been a midwife, a gentle and loving woman who had brought many babies into the world.
When Jennifer was fifteen her mum had been diagnosed with cancer and five years later succumbed to the disease and passed away. Jennifer was already at unit studying nursing, in her second year. The day she died had been part of ‘Breast Cancer awareness week’ and daffodils were the flower chosen to sell to raise funds. Her mum’s casket was adorned with daffodils as it sat up at the front of the church. They were by far Jennifer’s favourite flower but unfortunately not always in season.
The next day at work she was telling her friend Linda how she had seen the mystery man again. “I’d love to know who he is” she said “he’s good looking too”.
“Aren’t you a bit freaked out?” Linda asked already knowing the answer that her friend would give.
“No, he doesn’t look like a weirdo, and I don’t get a bad feeling when I see him”.
“He could be a mass murderer looking for his next victim!”
“You watch too much television Linda” Jennifer told her as she looked at her watch and realised their tea break was over.
She loved her job. Admittedly the sound of the buzzers going all day long, running up the corridors from one room to another, the never-ending question from patients of “When is the doctor coming in to see me” and the shortened lunch breaks, was a bit too much so sometimes and she would get home exhausted, but the notion that she had helped sick people and cared about them was enough for her to feel satisfied.
Usually when she arrived home the first thing she did was get changed and then throw herself on the couch waiting for her dog Missy to jump up and join her. Her dog was her confidante and cuddle buddy. She didn’t seem to have time for much of a social life at the moment, what with study and trying to do her house up, but she knew that when these were both finished, she would accept the invitations of ‘blind dates’ and outings that her friends were always offering her. ‘I don’t need anyone in my life right at the moment do I Missy? There’s plenty of time for that!’
The next Thursday when Jennifer walked into the florist shop the first thing she saw were the tulips. “Oh, my goodness Mrs Lincoln, look at those. The colours are gorgeous - I’m definitely having some of those today”.
Mrs. Lincoln wiped her hands on her pinny and brought out a notebook from under the counter. “I happen to have what each colour represents, the grower told me, so you can choose depending on what you feel like. The pink ones are for happiness and confidence, the purple for royalty, yellow for cheerful thoughts and the white ones represent forgiveness!”
“What about the bright red ones?” Jennifer asked
“Everlasting love” came the reply.
“Umm, I clearly don’t want the red ones then, unless I give them to my dog! I think I will have the yellow ones please Mrs Lincoln. I’d like to think there are cheerful thoughts floating around the room at home”.
She paid for the flowers and left the shop knowing she had time to race home, put them in a vase and then off to work.
Her car was parked across the road from the florist today because of the roadworks so dodging a couple of cars she crossed over. ‘Beep’ went the keys to her car and she opened her door…then she saw him.
He wasn’t even looking at her, just sitting on the bus seat. He wore neatly pressed pants and a light blue shirt. Next to him on the ground was a brown leather attaché case and he appeared to be reading a notebook of some kind.
‘Well he’s not even taking any notice of me so I can’t say anything’ she thought and climbed into the drivers seat. She turned on the ignition and checked in the rear vision mirror before pulling out. Now he was looking at her. The notebook had been put away but he was still sitting down.
All Jennifer could think was ‘what beautiful cornflower blue eyes he has’, then realising what the time was, planted her foot and took off.
“I’m telling you Jenn, it’s creepy. He’s creepy. He was looking at you I bet, and the notebook was a ruse. You need to confront him, you really do!”
“Well, it was just that I wasn’t his focus. I would have felt stupid saying ‘why are you watching me?’ and it turns out he’s a married man, loves his wife, has two kids and just happens to be in the street the same time as me!”
“Yeah, at least twice a week…..I don’t think so” Linda called out as she walked into one of the rooms.
A few days went by and Jennifer didn’t see the mystery man again. She can’t say she wasn’t disappointed but had always believed that everything happens for a reason.
Wednesday was a very busy day at the hospital in the morning and on top of this Jennifer was in the maternity ward for half a day watching births. Just being in the ward and seeing the babies come into the world, hearing them cry for the first time and seeing the instant love on the mother and father’s faces left Jennifer knowing that this was what she wanted to do.
She met Linda at the end of their shift and they walked and chatted, heading towards the main door of the hospital. “I am knackered” said Linda “I’ve run a marathon today. I’m going to check my watch to see how many steps I’ve done”
“Don’t look obvious Linda but it’s him”
“It’s the guy I see in town. He’s over by the lift. Oh, my goodness, he’s a doctor”.
“How do you know he’s a doctor?” asked Linda
“Well unless he wears a stethoscope instead of a gold chain around his neck……” and left it at that.
Linda didn’t care about not being obvious and swivelled her head around as if it was on a spring. “Where is he?”
“He’s at the lift door and they’ve just opened. Oh, you’ve missed him” said Jennifer in a disappointed voice.
“Well let’s get the lift then”.
“No, I don’t want to. How about we find out tomorrow just who he is and if he’s single” Jennifer told her friend.
For some reason Jennifer felt quite excited about going into work the next day and discovering who the mystery man was and more importantly if he was single. Although she had caught him looking at her just the one time, she had a good feeling that he had actually noticed her today when he was at the lift. ‘Oh, I can only hope’ she thought letting herself into her house.
Missy was behind the front door as usual, tail wagging and ready for a cuddle.
“Hello beautiful girl” Jennifer said to her, bending down to scoop her up into her arms. “A quick tummy rub for you and then I really must do some study”.
As they entered the dining room the first thing that caught Jennifers eye was the flowers. Drooping and sad looking they had given out all the cheerful vibes they had. The vibrant yellow colour of the heads was now a pale creamy white tinged with brown. It was time for the compost and the chance to recycle themselves and give goodness and energy to other plants in the future.
She gathered them together and put them in the bin, washed out the vase and told herself she would get some more tomorrow.
The next morning Jennifer pushed open the door and Mrs Lincoln greeted her cheerily as she did each week. “Hello Jennifer, how are you love?”
“I’m pretty good really. Can’t complain. I loved the tulips I bought last week. Do you still have them?” Jennifer asked looking around.
“We do, but I have some ready wrapped for you.
“What do you mean?” asked Jennifer not quite understanding.
“Well a young gentleman came in earlier, asked for these” Mrs Lincoln began to tell her as she presented Jennifer with a bunch of tulips, red ones. “And he said to give them to the very pretty young lady with the dark hair who comes in every Thursday to buy flowers”.
“What?” exclaimed Jennifer “Who is he?”
“He paid with cash so I don’t know his name, but said you would know who he was, and that he would see you at work! I wonder if he knows what the red tulip means?”
“Only you know all that stuff Mrs L! Was he dark haired, blue eyes and handsome by chance?” Jennifer asked, hoping the answer was yes!
“That would be the one” Mrs Lincoln said, adding “Do you know him?”
“I don’t know him but have seen him around a few times and I actually think he works at the hospital. I shall find out when I get to work a bit later” Jennifer told her feeling quite excited!
She got home and arranged the tulips in the vase. The red was the colour of a fiery summer sky just as the sun is setting, the petals tightly woven together, ready to gently open up a little each day.
“Someone bought these for me Missy, a secret admirer” Jennifer told her dog, who seemed very disinterested from the comfort of the couch.
Meanwhile Linda had been playing detective at work and was ready with the information as Jennifer walked through the main door.
“I know all about him, and the news is good!” she told her friend excitedly. “A junior doctor, Garry Innes, twenty six years of age, and SINGLE”……
“AND” said Jennifer “He bought me red tulips today, they were waiting for me at the florist, all wrapped and ready to be picked up” she beamed.
“Oh I love it” said Linda so loud, all heads turned.
“Shh Linda, don’t tell everyone!”
“Alright Miss Marple, tell me which ward he works on and what time his shift starts and we can go from there”.
When Jennifer was told he was on late afternoons she knew he started an hour before she finished and hopefully, she could catch him before leaving the hospital.
She waited down at the main entrance pretending to use the vending machine. She could see in the glass above the goodies in the cabinet and as soon as he walked through the door, she turned.
Their eyes caught each other and they both smiled. Waiting for him to speak first, she felt nervous, until she heard the soft voice. “Hello, I hope you like red tulips”.
“I love red tulips” she replied with a feeling that this was going to bloom into something special.