The Secret Language of Flowers

Anna meets a handsome guy who runs a florist and she misses the message he tries to send through flowers.

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1. The Secret Language of Flowers

Rushing around Pine plaza is not a great way to spend your Wednesday afternoon, especially when important drawings, notes and reports are swirling around the cool air. Anna reached forward and closed her fist sharply, in an attempt to grab one of the papers, but at the last second the wind took it in another direction and she ended up jabbing her long, manicured nails into her soft, moisturised palm. Anna cursed in pain as she ran after the papers, her pointy high heel shoes squeezed her big toes and the heels made a horrible clip-clop sound as they hit the stone paved plaza floor. After ten minutes of running after the rogue pages the dizzying wind disappeared and all the papers dropped to the floor. 
She stood metres away from the papers, bent over with her hands on her knees, as she panted heavily; she hadn’t run since tenth grade.  
She rushed over to get the papers before the wind picked up again, but her heel got stuck in a small pothole and the heel was ripped from the shoe, which sent Anna tumbling forward, into the stone tiled floor. She groaned in pain, her eyes closed, she didn’t want to get up. She was too embarrassed and in too much pain. She will never again get annoyed at a child who falls on these floors. The pain Anna was experiencing was unbearable, she almost felt like crying.
Slowly and painfully Anna looked around the plaza, her body still plastered to the plaza floor. All the shops were open, but empty. Most parents were getting their kids from school at this time, which meant if she didn’t move soon Anna was going to get trampled by hundreds of school kids. Anna pushed her body off the ground and stood up; one foot was on its tippy-toes, while the other sat uncomfortably in her pinchy high heels. She wobbled a bit, but caught her balance and slowly walked over to the park bench in the middle of the plaza and took her shoes off. Then she grabbed the broken heel from the floor and stuffed it in one of her shoes. Anna turned around to get the papers, but they won’t there, instead in their place was a tall, handsome man, just a little bit older than Anna, holding a neat pile of messy papers. The man wore loose jeans; a loose, light blue, chequered shirt and old sneakers hidden under the end of his jeans. He walked up to Anna, handed her the pages, smiled at her, then swiftly turned around and walked into a shop, a couple of doors down from where Anna was standing. Hugging her papers and broken shoes close to her chest – to keep herself warm – she walked out of the plaza and dumped her shoes in a nearby bin. She walked across the road and into the thirty-storey high office building where she worked. She sunk in her chair and let go of the papers and they scattered across her already messy desk. 

#

The next day Anna went to Pine Plaza earlier than usual she needed to go to the plaza’s florist as it was one of her colleague’s birthday. Anna walked by the café to order her usual coffee. She pulled her long coat around her tighter to stop the Australian winter air nipping her skin. Bees hovered around the flowers displayed at the front of the florist; there were enough bees to make a buzzing sound that was loud enough to hear over the chatting of early morning workers sitting in the café next door. Anna pushed the door and the bell above was a tocsin of her arrival. Anna walked around the small shop, looking, smelling and feeling the flowers around her. She picked various flowers she thought might look good together, she walked over to the counter and placed the flowers on the counter so her hands were free for her to fish around her bag for her wallet. When she found her wallet, there was still no one at the counter to serve her. She looked at her watch, she had half an hour to get to work, which was plenty of time but she hated wasting time like this. Anna lived by the saying, time is money. Anna rang the bell on the counter, but no one came. There was an opening, much like a doorway with no door, where she could see a messy office, much like hers across the road. She tried to move herself so she could see if anyone was inside, while still ringing the desk bell. 
A deep, strong laugh erupted from the office outback and resounded throughout the shop. Anna stopped ringing the desk bell, not wanted to distract the person from laughing; it sounded too good. Anna closed her eyes and listened to the sound as it rung though her ears, it’s been a while since she was this content. Anna opened her eyes with a sigh when the laughter stopped. She could see a figure in the office, holding a phone to his left ear and writing something on a piece of paper on the desk. She could only see the silhouette of the person; it was too dark inside the office to make out any recognisable features. After the figure put the phone back on its holder on his desk, he folded the piece of paper he was writing on and he stepped out into the shop light. Anna recognised the figure straight away. It was the handsome man from yesterday. Anna blushed in embarrassment as she thought about how much he probably saw yesterday. The man seemed to recognise her too because his face had a shocked expression, but he soon recovered and his lips spread into an alluring smile. Anna felt weak at the knees and that made her feel pathetic, like she was a schoolgirl swooning over a heartthrob entertainer. With efficiency, he wrapped the flowers into a marvellous bouquet, he laid it on the counter and started typing something on the till, every so often he’d look at the bouquet and count some of the flowers then go back to typing at the till. When he finished, he smiled at her as the amount flashed on a small screen facing her attached to the till. Anna gave him the exact money and an identical smile, before walking out the door.

#

The next day for no particular reason – that she could think of – Anna decided to get up early and have a look at the florist. She first went to the café and ordered a coffee. She breakfasts and then looked around the florist, this time the man sat at the counter on a small stool, his back pressed against the wall and his feet propped up on the counter top. Anna could feel his eyes watching her every move and she felt very self-conscious. Every so often she’d turn to look at him but pretend she was looking at some flowers. She noticed his stare was not calculating, like he was trying to crack some code, his stare was relaxed, like he was observing something. Anna saw a flower she really liked so she grabbed it and walked over to the counter, when the man realised she was going to buy the flower he hurriedly got off the chair and started punching keys to of the till’s keyboard. When Anna got to the counter the price was already displayed on the small screen on the till. She paid and went to work.

#

For the last three weeks Anna has gone to the Pine plaza café to buy a coffee and sometimes breakfast. Then She would go into the florist and pick out one flower she really liked. At work, she would use a long glass as a vase. At the end of the day she would take it home and put it into an old vase she had with the rest of the flowers she had already bought. For the last week, Eli – which last week she found out was his name - would sit on top of the counter, his legs hanging down the front, $2 displayed on the small till screen.
When Eli sits on the counter they would often have little chats about random things such as life, jobs, family, anything. Anna felt she knew Eli for years not a week. Anna finds she goes in earlier and earlier each day just so she can talk to Eli longer.
Yesterday Anna got to the shop at six forty-five and helped Eli unload a fresh load of flowers he brought and she helped him display them in the shop too. They talked until quarter to ten, when Anna had to go to work. Yesterday Eli was telling her how each flower has a different meaning and how some can mean several things.
She grabbed her coffee off the counter of the café and walked into the florist, ready to start her morning conversation with him. But Eli wasn’t sitting on the counter swinging his feet ever so slightly like she expected him too, nor was $2 on the small till screen, this time it read $0.00. A single calla lily sat on the counter a small note attached to its stem. Anna, who was unable to resist the urge to investigate, walked up to the counter picked up the lily. The note read: to the girl who buys a $2 flower everyday. - Eli
Anna’s heart swelled, the flower was meant for her… from Eli. Anna twisted the flower in-between her fingers smiling, waiting for Eli to make his appearance, when he didn’t. Anna cocked her head to look into the office, but there was no sign of him. Sighing she left the shop and when to the café next door, until she had to go to work.

#

It’s been nine days since Anna received that first flower from Eli and everyday she goes into the florist and everyday there is a different flower sitting on the counter with the same note attached to the stem. For the past five days Eli stood behind the counter, waiting expectantly for Anna to do something, she could see it in his expression. She could see he was waiting for some sign. But every time she opened her mouth to tell him she liked him too, he would stop her and walk into his office, his head hung low like he failed. 
Anna pushed the florist door open and took the single flower lying on counter and walked out again, without even trying to see Eli. 
She sat slumped in her seat at the office, she popped the flower in the vase on her desk and opened her computer, she opened up various documents and tried to make a start on some emails but she couldn’t stop thinking about Eli. She grabbed the tulip from the make-shift vase and twisted the yellow tulip in-between her fingers.
“Aww” Someone said behind her, “Who got you the tulip?” Anna turned in her chair startled, the tulip tumbled to the ground when she clutched the arm rests in surprise.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you Anna” Sarah said, picking up the tulip and handing it back to Anna.
“Some guy” Anna replied, to Sarah’s earlier question.
“Well that guy must really know his flowers; a yellow tulip means there’s sunshine in your smile.” Sarah winked at her and walked away to sit at her own desk.
Anna had an epiphany, ten days ago Eli was telling her how every flower had it’s own meaning or meanings. Eli must have chosen the flowers because of what they mean. Eli looked downtrodden because Anna didn’t realise that. He probably wanted her to response in flowers too, not tell him.
Like a maelstrom, Eli’s dialogue on flower meanings came back to Anna in small fragments:
“…Every flower has a meaning…”
“…They usually have something to do with love…”
“…The language of flowers is almost lost, I wish to bring it back again…”
“…You’ll never see me give someone a flower based on how it looks, it’ll always be what it means…”
How could she forget that last one? The one that should have gone through her head when she saw whom it was from. 
How could Anna not know? Not realise?
 
Without a second thought, Anna ran out to the elevator, just before she reached the front door the concierge stopped her and gave her a rather large bouquet of various flowers.
“The man said you’d know who they’re from” The concierge man said unsure.
“I do” Anna smiled happily; Eli hadn’t given up on her just yet.
Anna ran across the plaza and then ran through the neighbourhood to her house. At home, she took out all the flowers Eli had given her these past few days and laid them on the table, she grabbed her laptop from her bag and put it on the table.
First flower, the calla lily, she looked up the flower and it meant beauty.
Second flower, the calla, magnificent beautiful.
Third flower, the rosebud, beauty and youth.
Fourth flower, white camellia, you’re adorable.
Fifth flower, orange rose, fascination.
Sixth flower, lavender rose, enchantment.
Seventh flower, coral rose, desire.
Eighth flower, variegated tulip, beautiful eyes.
Finally, today’s flower, the ninth flower, the yellow tulip, there’s sunshine in your smile.
Anna went to her kitchen to get a separate vase for these flowers, she filled it with water and put all the flowers Eli, had given her in it. Next Anna looked at the flowers from the bouquet.
Five red roses, meaning, love and respect.
Five thornless roses meaning, love at first sight.
Five moss rosebuds, meaning, confessions of love.
Five red tulips, meaning, declaration of love.
Finally, ten white violets, meaning let’s take a chance on happiness.
Yes, Anna agreed, let’s take a chance on happiness. 
Anna looked through more flowers and their meanings on the Internet trying to find an appropriate flower to give to Eli. 
Once she found it she found a local florist – not Eli’s – that sold them, she rang them up and asked them to get them ready for her so she could just pick them up when she got there. 
She drove just over the speed limit to get to the florist, then sped back and hastily parked next to the plaza. 
She ran into Eli’s florist, when she didn’t see him in the shop she ran into his office without thinking and found him looking at a bookshelf, his back facing her. She placed the bouquet on his desk quietly and walked up to him, she tapped his shoulder and he turned around quickly, before Eli could look at her she planted her lips on his. 
Eli didn’t react at first, and then he began pushing on Anna, trying to get her off him. Anna stopped kissing him and looked up at him. When he realised it was Anna, he looked surprised, then his face relaxed into a smile that reached his ears. He pulled her close and their lips collided once again, her hands around his neck and his on her waist. The kiss was much more than what Anna could have ever dreamed of. She pushed herself up on her tippy-toes to get more of the kiss, Eli held her tighter against his body, both of them trying to get as much of this kiss as they possibly can. Anna pulled away – much to Eli’s dismay - breathless to rest her forehead against Eli’s. Eli opened his mouth to say something but Anna stopped him, by placing her index finger against his lips to stop him. 
She grabbed the bouquet she left on his desk and passed them to him, his smile widened even more. 
He knew what they meant.
She grabbed a notepad from his desk and flicked to a new page, then grabbed a pen from the holder beside Eli’s computer.
Anna wrote down the plant name and how many there were, then underneath it wrote the same but substituted the name with the meaning. When she turned the note around so Eli could read it and his smile grew impossibly bigger.
It read, Ambrosia x 10
             Your love is reciprocated x 10

The End.

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