Fact or Fiction?

Submitted into Contest #136 in response to: Write a story where hard work doesn’t pay off.... view prompt


Fiction Romance Funny

There's this woman that works at your local flower shop. You simply cannot stand a household devoid of daisies, so you visit this flower shop once a week. Every Thursday, 1:15 PM, you walk into "What in Carnation? Flower Shop" and speak to a rather monotonous employee named Susan. You've tried and tried, but Susan simply refuses to reveal any personal information about herself. No smile as you enter the store, no "Happy Tuesday to you too!", not even a "You have a pasta stain on your shirt" when you very, very clearly do not know that you have a pasta stain on your shirt. Every comment, fun anecdote, joke, or even smile is met with an awkward glance down at the register and a voice devoid of any form of life.

Given this lack of engagement in our weekly conversations, you've devised an alter ego for Susan. By day, she is a simple flower shop worker, trimming daisies and concocting sub-par quality flower arrangements. By night, however, she is a magnificent woodworker who carves bears into banisters. She's a sailor. She actually hates flowers but keeps the day job to fuel her addiction to leather, iridescent thigh-high boots. She wears old spice deodorant. She hates the rain.

Week after week you walk into this flower shop, and pretty soon you have to differentiate the fact from fiction. You begin a running list in your head. Every month your bank of information grows:


Fact: She picks at her nails

Fiction: She is a MMA wrestler

Fact: She likes to wear purple

Fiction: She kicks babies she finds on the street.

Fact: Her eyes are light blue.


Fiction: Her drivers' license was revoked due to driving "under the influence of the depression following the finishing of a good book"

Fact: She has excellent posture

Fiction: She has eight dogs, and they are all named "Kevin"

Fact: She tucks her hair behind her ear enough to drive a woman mad

Fiction: She frequently cuts work to get tea with her grandmother

Fact: You would break your weekly flower budget just for an excuse to come in and see her


Fiction: She has a PhD in philosophy

Fact: She only smiles by her own volition, she owes you nothing

Fiction: She has four toes

Fact: You think the blue station wagon parked in front is hers, but in hindsight you're not sure on this one

Fiction: She has a girlfriend

Fact: You don't want her to.

Combing the observations in your mind, you realize that you no longer need to make an alter ego to know this girl. The possibilities of who she truly is is much more interesting than the stories in your head. You must get coffee with her. No, take her to a football game so you can find out if she truly was a professional mascot in college. No, ask her what she wants to do. That may give you even more answers.

On a mission, you walk into the shop on a Monday, at an appalling 7:30 PM. What psychopath would buy flowers on a Monday at 7:30 PM? You don't know and you would not like to meet them. You rush to the counter, where you know that Johnathan (the mediocre floral arrangement designer) will be working. Over the years you've deducted that Johnathan was never truly accepted, so he makes up for it with the abundance of gossip that escapes from his mouth at any given second. You've seen him with the other employees - they hate him. He's definitely the chatty Cathy of the group. He's the perfect mole. With no Susan in sight, you strike up a casual conversation. You and Johnathan talk about seasonal flowers, gas prices, and how Costco has such an incredible selection of cooked meats. Then, you go in for the kill. You claim that you're looking for a job, and ask about his coworkers. What are they like? What is the work environment like? Are you friends with anyone in particular? Any interests? A monster truck jumper, perhaps? He opens with a monologue about Dorthy's godawful poppy arrangements, but he eventually pulls through. Susan is always listening to her favorite band, the Strokes. The group likes to go get boba on Sunday nights. Susan comes, but her nose is in a book 70% of the time. George sucks at playing the guitar. It's not relevant, but you do find it interesting.

This is your shot.

The next Tuesday, you walk in clad in a Strokes t-shirt, raving about the latest album. Susan concedes that she thinks it's not quite their best. But "Last Nite" was her favorite. Miraculously, completely coincidentally, you happen to feel the same and even think that "Last Nite" is the best song they've ever written. You get her to laugh. Your heart cracks.

October you walk in with milk tea with chocolate boba. You complain that there's no tea places walking distance from your house. She recommends one down the street. Her voice has a bit of a drawl. You wonder where she's from. You wonder if you'll ever find out.

It's almost Thanksgiving - the flower shop clad with sunflowers and cornucopias when you walk in. She's wearing and orange top and jeans. A slow day, her book is on the counter. It's Shakespeare. A classical literature geek yourself, you ask her favorite play. The Tempest. You mentally add it to the list - another fact.

You go in to buy some lilies in December. She remembers your name. The flowers are extra colorful in the shop that day. Walking out, you see weeds growing through the cracks in the pavement. You cheer them on. Good for them.

In January you simply cannot restrain yourself any longer. You strike up a conversation with her about a bookstore downtown. She mentions a great boba place down the street. You obviously knew that, she's a boba connoisseur and knows every place in town. Now you both have a place in common you'd like to go. You ask her if she'd like to get tea with you and look for old copies of Shakespeare. Talk about Hemingway. Look through alt-rock records. Distinguish fact from fiction. She tells you she can't, she's meeting up with her boyfriend later that day.

Your heart sinking, you add one more fact to the list.

March 12, 2022 00:41

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L.M. Lydon
20:06 Mar 17, 2022

I really enjoy how, at the beginning, the narrator breathes meaning into every little thing Susan does and makes up such entertaining stories. It’s a casual, fun descent into a budding and truncated fixation. End was great-narrator missed the most important fact!


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Michał Przywara
22:20 Mar 16, 2022

This is great! Very funny. You had me at "What in Carnation?" The whole piece has this lovely nervous energy and the facts/fictions had me laughing. The ending was a well delivered cherry on top.


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