Flowers and Fate
“Red or yellow roses, Sir?” the older lady in the flower shop asked.
The young man in his early thirties smiled and raised his brow. “Now, how did you know it was to be roses, Millie?” He knew her from a name tag.
“It’s the body language, young man. Your step, your face, the happy gleam in your eyes.”
“Really! I’m that obvious?”
“You’re that obvious,” she teasingly grinned, “plus I’ve had this shop too many years not to know when love walks through the door.”
He put his hands on the counter and gently asked, “And, do you know how many roses I’ll be sending FTD today?”
“You’re a two-dozen fellow, I’m betting.” She pursed her lips.
“And, does my step, my face, and the happy gleam in my eyes tell you which color I’ll pick?”
“Red, of course! You’re obviously in love and you want the red roses to convey your love for the young lady.” She tilted her head slightly in a positive gesture.
“Why would I not choose yellow roses?” the man asked, amused by the conversation.
“Yellow roses would be fine, but you wish to make a deeper statement. Red gets the point of love across rather profoundly. They say, ‘I love you’. Yellow roses convey happiness and joy in more of a friendship fashion… My goodness, listen to me, giving you information you likely already know.”
“No, you’ve actually tagged me perfectly, and I thank you. It will be two dozen red roses, and I trust you will pick out twenty-four of your very best.”
“It will be my pleasure, plus an extra red rose to accentuate the strong statement. I shall make it a very special arrangement for you. You will wish a card sent with the roses…”
His name was Farris Stanley Ballanger. The flowers were going to Johnnie Ballanger, his wife. On a short business trip to help out one of his service station managers, he would be home tomorrow and wanted Johnnie to receive the flowers before his arrival.
Stan spent some time in thought at the counter as to the words he would put on the card. Smiling, finally satisfied with his choice of words, he placed the card in the accompanying envelope, wrote ‘Dear Sweet Johnnie’ on the front, and handed it to Millie.
Stan paid for the flowers and chatted a few moments more with Millie.
As Stan was about to leave the store, he asked: “Do you mind if I hug you, Millie? You are such a great person.”
Millie obliged, and Stan left the store.
Later around midnight as Stan closed and locked his service station, he was robbed at gunpoint, prodded to the ‘Men’s Room’ and shot to death at close range. His body was not found until daybreak when the service station attendants arrived for work.
Stan’s roses arrived the next morning before news of the robbery and homicide reached Johnnie. Her heart filled with love overflowing as she read what Stan had written on the card:
Love and Time Eternal
It matters not the hours, the days, the years, the lifetime we spend together!
What matters is all the love we have gathered in our hearts
That will last eternally…
– Flash fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood –
December 16, 2016
In Memory of my Uncle Stanley Balsinger who lives forever in my heart!