Afterthought flowers – that’s what she used to call them. A wife knows the type sold at the local supermarket. The cheerful blooms would greet each customer, guilt their divine fragrance. The wire-framed trolley would glide by without pause to the fruit and veg. He never once stopped to gaze at the bright bunches, not until today.
It wasn’t a cheat, not really. Going into a florist and explaining what was required and why would only add to the torture. The Latin names and even the common ones of garden plants eluded him. She knew them all.
Knowing the number of yards to a green, where the bunkers were located and how to play in any weather condition was useful knowledge. Each to their own, as she’d say.
The vivid bouquet remained in his hand for five seconds. He replaced them in favour of a more discreet affair. Being outgoing and attracting attention was never her style. After all, muted colours were subtler. He pulled the price label off, satisfied with his unquestionable rationalisation.
At the golf club dinners, his wife would nod and converse politely. She was pleasant enough, listening to a rendition of each hole, shot by shot. The nuances and skills that each game demanded passed her by. Her smile failed to touch her cheeks, and although her eyes focused on her husband, they lacked the energy she once commanded.
“You should join in – show some interest.” A downward glance and averted eyes said more than the stilted after-dinner conversations. After that failed, the invitations stopped. He’d done his best.
Water dripped from the stems, creating an annoying pool on the floor mat. He’d clean that when he got home. He’d tolerate it for her, this once – today was an exceptional day. The flowers should take the sting out of the announcement, but he expected tears. They’d only been apart for eleven months, but people moved on even after twenty-seven years of marriage.
Four words repeated in a perpetual loop, forcing through other thoughts, sometimes as a whisper, sometimes bold and confident.
She waited in her usual spot as cherry blossoms settled around her. A mother and child headed out of view towards Church Street. They were alone.
“I’ve found someone else.” Finally, the words he’d been practicing were born into reality.
His gaze blurred with emotion. Only then did he notice the gregarious colours already at his feet. A multitude of reds, yellows and purple tied neatly with a blue bow around layers of cellophane. It dwarfed his supermarket offering. A handwritten card lay beside them.
“To my darling. Thank you for making the last few years the most memorable of my life. I will always miss you.”
I'm retired and live on the coast of North West England with my husband and Labrador. I've been writing since 2011 and had some success with short stories. I love to travel and I'm always jotting down notes for stories wherever I am. I like to read all types of genres but particularly love the John Connolly Charlie Parker series.