Genevieve Floyd raced through the streets; her small yellow umbrella barely keeping up with her fast pace. The sun seemed to mock her as it hung low, casting the sky in a soft orange glow; reminding her of how late the time was. She looked down at her watch; it was ten to four and she still had a bit to go. She sucked in a breath as she increased her speed, desperate to get to her destination in time.
She grimaced as she tried to dodge a couple walking towards her, resulting in her foot making contact with a particularly muddy puddle. Her sock was now drenched in rain water and made a squelching noise with every step she took. It was quite unpleasant and only served to further decrease her already depressed mood. However, she didn’t start cursing the Universe until a biker nearly ran her over, causing her to jump awkwardly out of the way at the last second, nearly running right into the busy street. Clearly, the rider had never heard of bike bells before.
The Universe must truly despise her.
She could already hear her mother sighing and saying it wasn’t the Universe’s fault that she was always late. But she could argue that it wasn’t entirely her fault either. No matter how hard she tried, no matter how early she started getting ready, or how early she left, something always came along and ruined her plans, causing her to be late. So, excuse her if she blames the Universe for having an unfounded grudge against her.
Genevieve skidded to a halt in front of her intended destination: Flowers from the Harts. Her favorite flower shop in the city. She rushed up the steps and arrived at the door right as one of the employees was changing the hanging sign from “Welcome” to “Closed - Come back later.”
“Oh come on!” Genevieve cried out while looking at her watch. Four o’clock on the dot. What rotten luck. She knocked insistently on the door until she caught the shop attendant’s attention.
“Gen, you know the deal. We’re closed. Come back tomorrow,” Derek sighed as he moved to clean up inside.
“It can’t wait until tomorrow! Come on, Derek! What about that favor I did for you last month? You owe me!” Genevieve tried as she kept knocking, hoping to annoy him into submission. “Please? I’ll be quick, I promise!”
Derek rolled his eyes but unlocked the door for her anyway. “Don’t say I never did anything for you.”
Genevieve smiled widely as she scurried into the shop, closing her umbrella as she did so, eager to be someplace dry.
“Wipe your feet on the mat, would ya?”
She waved him off even though she did as he asked, wiping the mud off the bottom of her shoes - although it wouldn’t help with the puddles she created wherever she stood.
“You want your usual?”
“Nah, today’s special, so I want to pick out something equally as special,” Genevieve responded before moving towards the first group of flowers that caught her gaze.
“Alright, but you have ten minutes, make it quick.” Derek instructed her before heading off to continue his duties.
Genevieve carefully inspected every flower she saw, trying to find something perfect.
“What are you doing here so late anyway?” Derek called from the back of the shop.
Genevieve hummed as she roamed freely, hopping from one area to the next without much direction. “I’m headed to see Freya and I didn’t want to go empty-handed. I’m sure the bouquet I took over there last week needs to be replaced anyway.”
“And you couldn’t have come earlier?” Derek teased as he reappeared with a spray bottle and rag. “Why are you going so late anyway? It’s gonna be dark soon.” He began wiping down the counters. “Daylight savings and all that.”
Genevieve listened to the patter of rain slow down to a drizzle - bitterly adding it to the list of the crimes that the Universe has committed against her - as she thought of her answer. “It’s been a busy day. Besides, I like going late. It’s quiet. Peaceful.”
Derek paused for a minute while he watched Genevieve walk around the small shop. “If you say so.”
The two were wrapped in silence then, both in their own little worlds as they concentrated on their respective tasks.
Genevieve continued to move about freely, grabbing the flowers that she deemed worthy of the special day. Once she had amassed enough for the perfect bouquet, she brought them over to the counter.
She nodded happily as she placed her finds down in between them. She watched as he picked up the Daisies, the blue Lilacs, and the pink Hydrangeas and organized them in an aesthetically pleasing way before tying them together and trimming the ends.
He hesitated for a minute, deciding whether to ask his next question or not, as he handed her the newly formed bouquet. “How’ve you been doing?”
Genevieve simply smiled at him as she gathered the flowers in her arms and placed down her credit card. “I’m fine, Derek.”
“Are you sure?” He swiped the card, waiting until the transaction was complete before handing it back.
“Yeah. Why wouldn’t I be?”
He shrugged weakly in response. “Say hi to Freya for me.”
She didn’t give him a chance to say anything else as she bid him goodbye and headed back outside. She walked along, relishing in the way the cool air stung her cheeks and the wind whipped at her hair. She always enjoyed the moments right after it rained. There was just something so calming about it all, she couldn’t explain.
Genevieve took her time, savoring the fortunate weather, but also recognized that she was still technically on a clock.
Her mind wandered as she let her muscle memory guided her to where she needed to go. She made it a habit to visit her sister at least once a week, no matter what.
She vaguely registered walking through the iron gate. It wasn’t long before her feet came to a standstill, snapping Genevieve out of her daydream.
The sun had reached the horizon and was casting lovely tones of oranges and pinks across the evening sky. A faint rainbow piercing through the clouds after the earlier rain. Genevieve thought it was fitting for the occasion and for once thanked the Universe for a job well done; however, she didn’t consider all to be forgiven.
She slowly took a seat, not caring if the patch of grass she was sitting on was still damp, and looked at the headstone standing tall in front of her.
“Hey, Freya. How’ve you been? Good, I hope. I got you some new flowers. Derek says hi.” She plucked the old bouquet from the stone vase, setting it down beside her, and inserted the new one, fiddling around with it for a minute before she was satisfied. “A lot has happened this past week. I finally got that job promotion I was telling you about. I’m super excited about it. I mean, yeah, I’m also super nervous, but it’s a new adventure and I can’t wait to see what happens. Plus, I’ve been working so hard for it and I definitely deserve it. I thought I totally tanked that last presentation - you know, the one with the giraffes - but apparently it was good enough to get me promoted.
“Oh, I met the cutest girl the other night. I went out with some friends for Caleb’s birthday - did I tell you about Caleb? I don’t remember. He’s a new friend. I met him when I took Lu to the park the other day.
“Speaking of Lu, she’s doing alright. Although, you’re still her favorite. No matter what I do, that dog is never satisfied. I think you spoiled her too much.
“Anyway, back to Caleb. You’d like him, I’m sure. You two are very similar. Anyway, we went out for his birthday and there was this really cute girl who was also there and I’m pretty sure she was flirting with me. I could be wrong though. You know I’ve never been very good with all this. You were always so much better at it than me.”
Genevieve took a breath as a teary eyed smile crossed her face. “You were always so much better at everything than me. I miss you so much. I wish you were still here with us. With me. Mom’s driving me crazy now that I have all her attention.” She let out a shaky laugh. “You always made it all look so easy.”
She looked down at her crossed legs, picking at the grass around her ankles. “It’s not the same without you. It feels like something’s missing. Dr. Quinn says I’m making progress though. She says at least I’m dealing with it in a non-destructive way. So, there’s that.”
She sniffled. “You know, you had this way about you. Like a warm light in the cold dark. Sometimes I can still feel it. Like you’re still here with me. Or at least, your spirit is. Is that even how it works? I don’t really know. Maybe one day you can tell me. Or, I guess, by then I’ll already have my answer.”
Genevieve sat in silence for a moment, just taking everything in. Her gaze caught on the angel wings carved into the bottom of the tombstone as the wind gently blew past her.
“You really were a little piece of Heaven on Earth. And now you’re partying it up with the angels, I’m sure. Happy birthday, Freya. I love you. I hope your light continues to linger, and never leaves, even if you have.”