All things considered she prefers the dead. Decapitated, chilled, left on her back doorstep in boxes for her to do with as she pleases. She does not work well with the living.
Her client returned last night to demand yet another change. Peonies, this time. Never mind that the hyacinths and tulips had already been delivered, that she had already spent hours working up the centrepieces as she had been instructed. Never mind that there simply wasn’t time to ship more flowers from the warehouse, let alone design new arrangements before the big day. Peonies. Otherwise, the florist wouldn’t be getting paid.
She selects another bloom, twirling it between her gloved fingers before trimming and slitting the stem with a few deft snips of her freshly cleaned scissors. A decade’s worth of weddings, birthdays, adulterous apologies, all scrubbed from its blades. Her breath mists a little in the chilled air of the workroom. She has acclimatised to the cold over the years; all the better to preserve the cut stems, keep everything as fresh as possible.
Something is off. She turns to her client, holds up the centrepiece for inspection. “What do you think?”
The bride, for once, offers no opinion.
Lopsided. That’s it. Taking care not to disturb the overall arrangement, the florist slots another tulip into place.
Time to get a move on, pack everything up into the van before the morning grows too warm. Her client can be dropped off somewhere en route to the hotel. It really is a stunning choice for a wedding reception. Picturesque, secluded. No-one will notice the florist’s van parked up by the side of that old country road.
Weddings never pay as well as people assume. Not as well as funerals, at any rate. Still, the florist takes whatever work she can get, makes the best of things. She must remember to leave her card behind this time, after she finishes decorating the venue. No doubt they’ll be needing her services again soon.
AMY SLACK is a non-fiction editor and aspiring short story writer from the North-East of England, currently based in London. Her work has been published online by Visual Verse and Palm-Sized Press. You can find her on Twitter @amyizzylou, or follow her blog, Amy’s Ever-Growing Bookshelf, at amyizzylou.wordpress.com.