Mac watched as the little girl handed a flower to everyone sitting at the Bus Stop. On the other side of the Street, he noticed a young woman passing out flowers on that side too. It was apparent that they were either a mother daughter team, or big sister little sister.
The little girl put a flower out in front of Mac- offered, not pushed into his hand.
“Sir, would you like a flower?”
'Crap. Now I have to look like the heavy by telling her I don’t want to buy a flower': Raced through Mac’s mind. The little girl must have recognized the look on Mac’s face.
“They are free sir. No charge. I just want you to have a little beauty in your day. They smell pretty too!”
Mac took the flower.
The little girl smiled up at him.
“No. Thank you. Not everyone takes a flower (she grimaced just a bit). Some don’t even say thanks. Keep the flower safe!”
With that, the little girl was moving on to a group of kids standing outside a convenient store. She approached them with the same child like innocence that she had approached the people at the Bus Stop. Across the street, the young woman had run out of flowers and was coming back to join her daughter/sister.
Mac watched as the kids outside the Convenient Store each took a flower then said some form of a thank you. Mac saw one kid ready to throw his flower down, until he took a quick sniff…smiled, and kept holding onto the flower.
Mac bent and took a sniff of his flower. A smiled flowed down from his nose onto his lips. For some reason the little girl’s words flitted back into his mind:
“Keep the flower safe.”
Mac couldn’t believe the week he'd had since he got the flower. He looked over at his dining room table. The flower was still there. As fresh as the day the little girl gave it to him. He couldn’t help but smile. As soon as he was ready for work, he went over to the flower, pulled it out of the vase, took a big sniff, petted the petals very softly…then placed the flower back in the vase.
“You take care now. I will be home later.”
He laughed out loud at his own words. He had never had a pet. But now, well, he had a flower.
At work, people noticed the change in Mac. He smiled a lot more. He seemed to genuinely care about both his co-workers and the customers. It seemed like a different Mac. Gone was the one who had biting remarks for slow learners, taunts to other sales people, and the rude nick name he had for Customers: Coneheads.
Mac was a kinder, more pleasant, co-worker, a pleasure to be around and work with. Mac noticed the change in himself. An idle thought wondered if the flower had anything to do with it. Enough of the old Mac remained to utter a quick: “Nah. Must be my imagination.”
Mac had read online that flowers lasted longer if you put them in cool water with a little sugar added. So that is what he did every morning; water the flower, add some sugar, pet the petals…and talk to the flower for a bit. He had also read online that flowers responded to “good vibes”. So that is why he told the flower about his day, stroked the velvet softness of the petals with gentle strokes, and asked if it was okay.
He hoped the flower was safe.
Worried wasn’t the right word. Concerned. Yes, that was it. Mac was growing concerned about the flower. It had been more than a month since the little girl and the woman passed out flowers up and down the street where he caught the bus every morning. Mac dreaded the thought that the flower would soon start losing petals…and then die. Even the thought made him misty eyed with a bit of melancholy trying to fight through his now daily good mood.
Mac Googled Florist Shops, Flower Experts, Botanists, and Gardener Forums - trying to learn both what kind of flower he had, and how long it would live. That is how he stumbled on the Facebook page of Miranda Marcel. A picture matching the flower sitting on Mac’s dining room table was the Header on Miranda’s home page. Underneath the picture was a caption: “This is called an Everlasting Flower. Keep it safe.”
Mac was stunned when the picture in the Bio showed the little girl and Miranda holding a bouquet of flowers in their hands. They were the same duo he saw giving out flowers the day he got his. And they were Mother and daughter. He read some of the posts, then went to the link to request being included in the group. It was actually simple to join- just send a picture of your flower.
Mac found, as the weeks went by, that he had stopped watching the “News”. Violent movies or stories - even his beloved Stephen King Stories, became difficult to watch or read. Mac cancelled his cable, newspaper subscription (a bit of old school charm that had lost its charm), and couldn’t even watch popular Netflix Originals that had evil, mean, or petty characters…and that covered a lot of the Comedians too.
Mac found he couldn’t even watch the John Wick series - and he owned all three movies on DVD AND stored online. He gave away the DVD copies, and erased his library on iTunes. Music was now his favorite pastime.
Mac still fed his flower water and sugar each night. Each night he talked to the flower about his day at work, things he was thinking about, and if the flower wanted to hear the Troggs “love is all around you” - just one more time. Or maybe some Bach, or Sibelius’s Flower Suite? He would stroke the petals as a form of good night…then off to bed. His dreams seemed to become pleasant travelogues with no narrations, just endless hours of beautiful scenery floating by like he was on a narrow boat on a canal in England.
Sometimes Mac would read the posts on Miranda’s Everlasting Flower Page. Most of them were stories of change, growth, or pleasant anecdotes that made him laugh. Every post had a picture of the Everlasting Flower up in the right hand corner. Mac had never posted anything yet.
Tomorrow that would change.
It had been a year since the day Mac got his flower. Mac marveled at the change in his life. Now, not only could he listen to good music, he could play songs on either his ukulele or his harmonica. He was pretty good on the Harmonica, but still a neophyte on the ukulele. Stairway to heaven was a long way off on the tinny strings of his ukulele- his fingers weren’t up to the task…yet.
He had been promoted at work. He had gotten rid of his big screen TV and watched what few movies he liked on his computer. His music library was enormous now. Almost all the junk food he used to eat was absent from his diet. Oh sure, he still had the occasional donut as a treat (his favorite was a maple log with a side cup of chocolate milk), but chips, Pepsi, and Pizza had gone the way of the DoDo.
Mac decided it was time to post something on the Everlasting Flower Home Page. He wrote a short post and put it up. He never expected any feedback…after all, it was just a simple thank you to the little girl for giving him an Everlasting Flower. A flower that seemed to have changed his life.
He jokingly ended his post with these words:
“I don’t know if your Mother Miranda is married…or has a boyfriend. But if she is single and you wouldn’t mind me dating her…I am available. I have Popcorn, "WALL-E", "While You Were Sleeping” and both the Movie and Soundtrack for “Yesterday.” We could hang out for a bit to see if I am a good fit.“
That night Mac told the flower what he had done. Gave it some water and sugar, stroked its petals gently, and told it: “Goodnight. Wish me luck.”
He bent over to give the flower a soft drawn out sniff. It seemed to smell even more pleasant this evening. Like it knew tomorrow would be better.
“Mac, could you come down to Reception please. There are some people here to see you.”
“Sure. I will be right down.”
Mac whistled “Grooving on a Sunday Afternoon” as he skipped down the three flights of steps to the Showroom Floor and reception. (Mac never made the connection, but ever since the got the flower- he no longer took elevators). When he reached the bottom step and looked over at Reception. He froze.
It was the little girl (a little taller than last time he saw her) and Miranda! He strode over with long gliding happy strides, the smile on his face growing bigger and bigger as he saw the smiles on their faces grow bigger and bigger too.
Before Mac could speak - Miranda spoke:
“We liked your post (the little girl nodded vigorously). I am not married. Carmella (Pointing to her daughter) here told me that she thought you were special when she handed you a flower. Carmella is usually correct about people. I read your post. So here we are. I brought some wine for you and I. Carmella prefers ginger ale. We will share dinner, then watch WALL-E. Later, you and I will watch, “While you were sleeping.” If that is okay with you?”
“Okay with me? Are you kidding? That is my dream date scenario.“
Miranda reached for Mac’s hand which drifted up of its own accord.
“Mine too.” said little Carmella, making all three of them laugh.
After the Wedding was over, on Mac’s table in the dining room, three Everlasting Flowers sat in their individual vases. A pitcher of water nearby, along with a elegant sugar bowl with a silver sugar spoon in it.
Mac would sneak out of the bedroom late at night to talk to the Everlasting Flower, to tell it how grateful he was. Often he would find Miranda or Carmella talking to their flowers…he would quietly shuffle back to bed. He didn’t want to interrupt them.
With Miranda snuggled up spoon like, Carmella safe in her bedroom, Mac would drift off wondering where the Everlasting Flowers came from. Miranda never told him. Neither did Carmella.