No More Flowers

Image: arrangement of purple flowers. Text: "Not again," she thought, as the receptionist walked towards her desk carrying an expensive arrangement of flowers.

No More Flowers

Short story by Iris Carden.

“Not again,” she thought, as the receptionist walked towards her desk, carrying an expensive arrangement of flowers.

“You’re so lucky to have a boyfriends who is always spoiling you like this,” the receptionist said. Her coworkers at the desks near hers agreed.

“Yeah, some kind of luck, all right,” Isabelle said.

There was no point trying to explain. They all thought Robert was the most wonderful boyfriend, sending her flowers multiple times a week.

“Of course,” Isabelle thought, “he could have sent them to the house, but it’s a better performance if they’re sent here. Now, if I dump him, I will have all the women I work with criticising me for dumping such a great man.”

The flowers, as always, were his way of making things “better” without an actual apology and without changing his behaviour in any way.

Flowers ended the discussion. If she complained further after he sent them she was just unreasonable and ungrateful.

This time, it was because he took her car, leaving her to walk to work, because his was being serviced. He would keep it for the week, even though she said she needed it. He didn’t know why she was mad at him, she must have understood he needed a car. He sent her flowers, because that would make it OK, wouldn’t it?

Some of her friends would understand about the car, but the people she spent all day working with never would. They just saw expensive arrangements of flowers coming into the office for her constantly.

There had been the time they went on holiday together. The deal was Robert would pay for accommodation, and she would pay all the expenses while they were there. He borrowed the money for the accommodation from her, and didn’t pay it back. He still expected her to pay all expenses while they were there, after all, she’d agreed to do that. He didn’t understand why she was upset, or why she complained she couldn’t afford the things he wanted to do, she was just angry for no reason. But sent her flowers once she was back at work, though, so it was OK. Whatever her problem was, he’d fixed it.

Then there was the surprise for her birthday. He told her to meet at his place, he had a surprise for her. When she got there, he told her he had forty people coming for a surprise party, and didn’t have any food, and he needed her to cook something. (Years later, she would wonder why she actually did stay and cook that meal, instead of walking out, calling her friends and arranging to meet somewhere for a meal she didn’t have to cook. But she had been too insecure to do that, then.) That was the first surprise. The second surprise was that he’d managed to completely avoid inviting any of her friends, but had found forty people she didn’t know. Apart from doing the catering, there had been no point in her being there. He didn’t understand why she was upset when he’d organised a party for her, she was just upset for no reason. But he sent her flowers the next day though, so it was OK. Whatever her problem was, he’d fixed it.

Those were the big things, but there were endless smaller things, ranging from telling his friends she was 30 when she was actually 22, to throwing out her possessions without consultation, to giving her a present that he then unwrapped and announced he’d actually bought for himself, to making it harder and harder for her to see her friends. The flowers came at least twice a week.

She was sure the local florist had a complete accounting of all the selfish, inconsiderate, horrible things he had done to her.

Isabelle had always loved flowers, but now she hated seeing arrangements from the florist.

“Can anyone give me a lift home?” she asked. “Robert’s taken my car.”

“Won’t he pick you up after work?” Sally, at the next desk, asked.

“No,” Isabelle answered sadly. “He sent flowers instead.”

“I wish my boyfriend would send me flowers all the time like Robert does,” Sally said.

“You wouldn’t if you knew what they cost,” Isabelle answered.

“Oh Robert earns twice what you or I earn. He can afford it,” Sally said.

“I was thinking about what they cost me,”she answered quietly.

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By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.

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