Dottie in the window
Plumes of orange tulips, cerulean gerberas and pink-tipped lilies filled the windowscape; a person could almost get lost in such a dense medley of fauna, Dottie mused.
“We are open! Come on in and smell the roses” prompted the door.
It would hardly be such a misery to ‘come on in’ and get lost in such exotic tapestry of plants born from such exotic countries, she thought. Over her 82 years she had never left her home nation, besides once unexpectedly wandering across the Scottish-English border during her 1999 Coach Trip to Northumberland. It would have been nice to explore the exotic orients, she felt, but as her youthful fear and naivety had been conquered by the years so had appeared the relentless onset of arthritis, encumbering even the simplest task from then on.
1999 had also been the year that her beloved Hans had passed away. He had been buried amongst sheaths of lilies just alike those in the window - they had always been Dottie’s favourite flower and each Sunday when en route home from work he had always showered her with another fresh, untouched and glorious bouquet. Nobody bought Dottie lilies anymore; the last bunch that she had received, from Hans the week before his accident, was still pressing in the centre page of her grand Oxford Dictionary. The book, stored atop her maple bookshelf, was now near unreachable by her arthritic elbows.
Nobody came to help Dottie reach her top shelves anymore.
The lilies behind the glass pane stood tribute to those better times passed, and those times better odoured: those days before her little bungalow had been fumigated with that awful, synthetic “Lily of the Valley” freshener scent used by her bullish visitation nurse to mask the scents of the cheap bleaching products that she used. Dottie had never wanted a community nurse but following her fall last year (whence she had managed to fracture her hip) she had not managed to exercise any choice in the matter. Her GP Doctor Rickenbacher had slid his glasses to the base of his nose and smiled from the corner of his mouth as Dottie had pitched her case for managing her elderly life unaided, with privacy and with dignity. He had called her names like “pet” and “sweetheart” and spoke about wanting the best for her and about his ethical obligations, and the need for caution in an “unsuitable” and “unequipped” accommodation. He had crushed Dottie’s counter-arguments with wry smiles and a lustrous use of medical lingo before burdening her with biweekly (and frankly tyrannical) visits from Nurse Patrizia.
Staring back at her reflection in the window Dottie could not help but to notice just how old she looked. Like hardwood her brown eyes had grown darker with the years and her powder pink rouge sat less on her cheekbones now and, rather, on the laughter lines where her cheekbones might once have been. She had been stood gazing at the contours of her reflection for some minutes now, kneading the palms of her hands without even knowing. She realised suddenly and quickly smoothed down her clammy fingers on her tunic before pushing back her shoulders, lifting her chin high and patting down the hair which had gotten damp and mischievous upon the nape of her neck.
And then, with the first genuine smile in what felt far too long, she strode in through the door of the flower shop and into the plumes of orange tulips, azul gerberas and pink-tipped lilies and, shortly afterward, reappeared outside of the shop holding a bouquet of the lilies wrapped intricately in a blanket of brown parcel paper and purple organza.
A tickle of cold in the wind caught her unawares and, cradling the flowers in one hand, with her other she pulled up her woollen scarf about her chin. A second gust arrived, causing the front door of the flower shop to tremor and quietly tinkle as the chime above the door pirouetted in the breeze.
“I feel you, Hans” Dottie smiled to the Winter sun. “And I will see you soon, when this story ends to begin the next adventure.”