SE­RIES Say It With Flow­ers by Jan Snook

Jen­nifer was happy to be­gin the New Year with Matthew by her side . . .

The People's Friend - - This Week -

She re­mem­bered feel­ing ap­pre­hen­sive, sud­denly on her own, preg­nant and nau­seous, rest­ing on the soft orange cush­ions.

Then, wait­ing for her due date, feel­ing iso­lated after hav­ing to give up her busy life in a job she loved.

She re­mem­bered bring­ing her baby home from hos­pi­tal to a liv­in­groom full of cards and the scent of cut flow­ers.

Night feeds on the sofa, three o’clock dark­ness out­side, Mar­tyn snor­ing in bed, obliv­i­ous.

Was she the only per­son awake at that time of the morn­ing?

Later on, sit­ting with her feet up at cof­fee time, with tod­dlers watch­ing “Playschool” and “Play­away”, then read­ing them a story and tuck­ing them up on the sofa for their af­ter­noon nap.

Her head was still full of mem­o­ries when the coun­cil’s refuse lorry drew up. The driver pipped the horn and jumped out.

Jessie smiled at him and shook her head.

“I’m so sorry,” she said. “That’s all right, love,” he replied, and to­gether they dragged the sofa away from the road­side and back into the gar­den.

As the lorry pulled away and dis­ap­peared down the road, Mar­tyn’s car sped up and screeched to a halt.

He wound the win­dow down.

“Oh, no, am I too late?” “Too late for what?” “Have they taken it? It’s just, I’ve been think­ing about that old sofa.” “Yes, Mar­tyn?” “Per­haps we could keep it.”

“Yes, Mar­tyn.”

“We could find room for it some­where you know.” “Yes, Mar­tyn.”

“We can’t let it go to the tip. It’s like, well, part of the fam­ily.”

Jessie smiled,

“Yes, Mar­tyn, it is.” She watched his face as he spot­ted the sofa, still cov­ered in blan­kets.

Jessie grinned. This re­ally was vin­tage, after all. ■

JEN­NIFER woke up and groped for her watch, then opened half an eye to look at it. It was after ten. She should be at work! She was about to spring out of bed when she re­mem­bered: it was New Year’s Day. Last night had been New Year’s Eve, and she’d been out cel­e­brat­ing with Matthew un­til the early hours.

She lay back on her pil­lows and smiled. It was a new year – full of op­por­tu­nity and prom­ise.

Just as she de­cided she couldn’t lie there all day, her phone rang.

“Good morn­ing, and happy New Year. Again,” Matthew said brightly. “How are you feel­ing?”

Jen­nifer smiled. So last night re­ally had hap­pened: the flow­ers, the restau­rant, the cham­pagne, the fire­works, the chimes at mid­night and “Auld Lang Syne”. It had all hap­pened. In­clud­ing that kiss . . .

“I’m fine.” She laughed. “Well, maybe a tiny bit groggy.”

“What you need is a long walk to blow the cob­webs away.”

Jen­nifer hes­i­tated.

“I’d love a walk, but it’s flower club to­mor­row, and I need to buy some flow­ers if any­where is open. I hate leav­ing it late.”

“I’m sure the florist in the high street will be open. Let’s go there first, then have lunch in that pub op­po­site, and then we can go for a walk. OK?”

Jen­nifer or­dered her flow­ers, and it wasn’t long be­fore they were sit­ting in the pub or­der­ing a plough­man’s.

“So,” Jen­nifer be­gan, “are you en­ter­ing the com­pe­ti­tion this month? The ti­tle’s ‘Jan­uary Blues’, which is a bit mis­er­able, but I feel obliged to do some­thing.”

“I think you re­alise that the main draw of the flower club for me is not the flow­ers,” Matt replied, beam­ing.

“I love the way you blush at ev­ery lit­tle thing,” he added, but Jen­nifer wasn’t look­ing at him.

“Isn’t that Emily?” she asked abruptly, look­ing out of the win­dow at the florist’s shop. “What is she . . .?”

They both stared. Emily was walk­ing to­wards her car, con­cen­trat­ing on the beau­ti­ful ar­range­ment she was car­ry­ing. It was a riot of blue flow­ers in­ter­spersed with del­i­cate cream and white blooms.

“What on earth shall I do?” Jen­nifer asked de­spair­ingly.

“What do you mean?” “Well, I think I can tell you with­out giv­ing any­thing away that ar­rang­ing flow­ers is not her strong point.”

“You think she’s go­ing to present that as her own work? But any­one who’s seen her in class will know, won’t they?”

“The judg­ing’s done anony­mously,” Jen­nifer said darkly.

They spent the af­ter­noon dis­cussing what they could do about it. Matt’s sug­ges­tion was to tell the judge what was go­ing on.

“But then she’d be pub­licly hu­mil­i­ated,” Jen­nifer ob­jected. “No, I think I’ll have to have a quiet word with her when she ar­rives at the club.”

The fol­low­ing evening Jen­nifer got to the flower club early and staged her own ar­range­ment as quickly as she could.

She was glad to see that there were sev­eral novice ar­range­ments al­ready in place. She de­cided to wait for Emily in the car park and tackle her there.

Jen­nifer got out­side just as Emily reached the door, car­ry­ing the fate­ful ar­range­ment.

“Oh, I was just com­ing in to find you.” Emily smiled.

“I’ve been look­ing for you, too,” Jen­nifer replied ner­vously.

Emily’s face fell. “Don’t tell me my ar­range­ment’s fallen over,” she said.

“Your ar­range­ment?” Jen­nifer re­peated stupidly.

“Mine’s the one near­est the door,” Emily said, still look­ing wor­ried.

“But . . .?” Jen­nifer looked down at the flow­ers in Emily’s hands.

“These?” Emily said after a mo­ment. “You can’t se­ri­ously have thought I could pro­duce some­thing like this! I bought these at the florist in town.

“I took some to Ali­son this morn­ing, but I don’t know where you live,” she added. “They’re to say thank you for Box­ing Day. It was won­der­ful!”

More next week.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.