They always traveled in the comfort of a refrigerated van, but today, February 13th they were so cramped and tightly squeezed together that they involuntarily poked each other.
“Same ol, same ol,” said Bloom, the grand dame of them all and the number one whiner. “What’s so special about tomorrow? All those fools running out to buy flowers and candy. What for? Like bringing roses once a year is going to make a difference.”
“Oh, you be quiet,” said Pinkie. The youngest and the sweetest, she was traveling with dozens of her sisters and found the adventure “awesome.”
“I hope I end up with a first love,” sighed Ruby, the most colorful and romantic of them all.
Just then the van came to a screeching halt in front of a Flowerama shop, and all the traveling guests were transferred inside.
Expert hands separated and assigned them to different spots in the store. Bloom and her followers took the place of honor, in the large window.
Pinkie and her siblings occupied the center of the room.
Ruby waited patiently for her assignment, but somehow she went unnoticed until closing time. The cleaning crew found her in the same spot she landed upon arrival and decided to move her to the storage room to keep her out of the way while they cleaned the place. She was still there after they turned out the lights and all went quiet. She called out to Bloom and Pinkie but they all had already left on assigned tasks.
The next morning the ring of the phone and loud voices awakened her.
“Sorry, we are all out, but we have magnificent gladioli and sweet smelling carnations. Okay, very sorry.” The voice of the woman Ruby assumed was the boss.
“Can you imagine? Procrastinators! They always wait until the last minute. Good luck to them. We had a great day yesterday, and all our roses are gone.”
But I’m still here, thought Ruby from her involuntary hiding place. She remained there throughout the day, patiently waiting to fulfill her destiny. This day was what her whole existence had been about. The Valentine’s Day whisper had traveled the rumor mill of the green house for weeks. Only the best would be chosen. It was a great honor to go out in the world and make someone happy. It was all about love and giving.
During those cold February nights, the elders would tell tales of their best off- springs, and how photos of them, with the lucky recipients would make the front page of magazines, and year after year there would be stories celebrating that first romantic gift that led to splendid love stories and made legends out of ordinary blossoms. Ruby heard that some of the lucky ones even got conserved and stayed with the lovers forever and ever.
That was her dream, her reason for wanting to be a first love’s Valentine. Apparently she had failed as the day grew short and she waited alone in the cold storage. She could tell it was closing time because the two young helpers had left, and she could hear the boss lady counting the receipts of the day. When the front door slammed she assumed the owner had left, but then she heard a new voice. It sounded like a man…no, a boy.
“I only need one,” said the boy.
“I’m sorry, young man, we are sold out. And we are about to close. Why did you wait until now? Procrastinating is never good.”
“It’s not like that,” the boy’s voice, again. “I bought a box of chocolates, but then she came to school with braces. She got braces yesterday, and her mouth hurts so bad there is no way she can chew. I hid the chocolates; I didn’t want her to feel even more self conscious of the braces. I have enough money left for one rose, because your ad says, ‘$1.99 for a rose with a ribbon.’”
“I understand son. I would give you a rose for free, but I have none left. Let me see what else might work”
I’m here, get me! If only roses could be heard. And perhaps they can, because the owner came and glanced into the storage, and a slice of light landed on Ruby. She heard a small gasp. “Well, well, well. Where did you come from?”
And just like that, Ruby fulfilled her destiny and her dream. Somewhere, many years later, I’m sure Ruby is still in some young woman’s room, upright and proud having been carefully dried and preserved, and I bet she still gets affectionate glances from a lucky gal with straight teeth.
May you have a love-filled Valentine’s Day, and may all your roses be lucky in love.
~ Maria Grazia Swan