Vicki walked out of the florist's shop holding the dozen white
roses away from herself, but still close enough to catch their
As she clutched the cellophane wrapped stems of the bouquet,
Vicki couldn't help but feel just a little bit disappointed. It
wasn't because she was buying the flowers for herself, she did
that often, but it was because she remembered that she'd heard on
a radio talk show just the other day that flowers like the ones
she was holding were always sprayed with an artificial floral
scent so that they maintained that fresh cut illusion, which is
so essential to the florist's trade. Oh, well, they were still
beautiful she thought.
The cracked sidewalk caused Vicki to stub her toe as she walked
toward her car, and she had to put one arm straight out to her
side, just to catch herself from falling. The sudden movement
caused her grip to tighten and the cellophane crinkled as her
hand strangled the flower stems. Vicki had always been
uncoordinated, maybe, just downright clumsy. Even as a little
girl she could remember her futile efforts at trying to master
the simple art of jumping rope. A girl who couldn't jump rope.
The rope would always end up wrapping itself around her limbs,
which were awkward and gangly even at the age of seven, and it
would become to her like the tendrils of a serpent always ready
to entrap her in an embarrassing chorus of high pitched
Vicki wished that she had remembered to take off her heels and
change into her sneakers while she was still parked in her car
like she usually did when she ran errands after work. Today,
before buying the flowers she'd been in such a heated argument
with her mom on her cell phone that she'd just forgotten. Oh
well. It was only a couple of
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more steps to the door of her Honda anyway. Only four more
payments and after three years and twenty some odd thousand
dollars the car would be all hers!
The car payments would soon go away. At least for a couple of
years. But the rent she paid every month for her studio
apartment, usually on time, might never go away. Even in the
twenty-first century, Vicki thought, single women like her didn't
usually buy houses. Not unless they were single and really
wealthy career women who could afford their own homes as well as
their own cosmetic surgery. Vicki wasn't sure if she was a career
woman, or not, but she was sure that she wasn't wealthy. A nose
job would have been nice though. And going to the gym was
becoming such a hassle that someday, she hoped, maybe she could
be a career woman wealthy enough to afford her own cosmetic
A house? That was a seperate matter altogether. A house was
different from gangly limbs, big noses and wishful comparisons to
artificially air-brushed magazine cover-girls. Before she got a
house, Vicki believed, she would probably have to have a family.
Well, if not a family, at least a husband, or at the very least a
half-way dependable live-in boyfriend would be nice to have. But
kids? Kids were a different matter.
First there would be nine months of pregnancy, getting fat,
getting old; then pain and all those hormone changes and mood
swings that Vicki had read and heard about. Then your whole life
became changed in an instant and you were no longer your own
woman. Instead, you had become a mother. And as a mother you were
more often then not left alone, paranoid about the welfare of
your child, hated by your husband,
unattractive even to yourself and stuck with this burden for the
rest of your life. No thanks. Vicki had decided long ago that
kids weren't for her. But who knows? Maybe, if the right guy came
along, maybe someday....who was she kidding? Screw that.
Oh well. At least these white roses would brighten up her drab
little studio apartment. Vicki knew exactly where she would put
them too. She would put them on her small, aesthetically pleasing
yet functionally deficient kitchen table. The table had a gray
marble top and three black wrought iron legs with three matching
director's chairs that gave everyone, herself included, a
terrible backache if you sat on them for more than five minutes.
That table weighed a ton, and it took her father, her brother and
two strangers just to carry the thing up the one flight of stairs
to Vicki's apartment. But that table was the first piece of
furniture Vicki had ever bought for her own apartment and she
loved that table. The sunlight coming in through the window would
light up the bright budding white roses in the morning as it was
rising, and in the evening as it was setting, and the soft
ambient glow of the flowers would be beautiful. Vicki was sure of
Just as her hand began to open the driver's side door to her car,
Vicki had already broken two nails at work that day so she wasn't
careful about it, she heard, "Victoria!" shouted loud enough for
even the UPS driver pulled up alongside the curb on the other
side of the street to hear.
Vicki didn't need to turn around to know who it was. She flinched
at the sound of her name though, not just because she despised
the shallow, Stepford Wife of a woman who had called her name,
but also because she wished her parents had never named her
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"urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Victoria in the
first place. It sounded so British, so royal like Queen Victoria
and so conceited. And the name Vicki, well, that wasn't much
better she thought.
"Meredith," Vicki said as she turned around with the flowers
still clutched in her hand.
"Oh my God. I can't believe I just ran into you," Meredith
continued to whine in her high pitched Valley Girl affectation.
They both embraced and pecked on the cheek. Vicki thought that it
was one thing to be genuinely surprised to see someone, it was
quite another, and maybe a little extreme, to invoke the name of
God over the whole thing.
"I know. I just got out of work," Vicki continued to play along
with her acquaintance excitement anyway. "What are you doing
"Oh, I just came out to get my nails done. You know, Friday," and
Meredith smiled that fake white toothed smile of hers that made
dental hygienists drool. Vicki had no idea what she meant by "you
know, Friday" because Meredith never worked and always seemed to
have enough time to get her nails done, her hair done, go to the
mall, and cheat on her husband while he was out cheating on her.
But Vicki played along because that's something you do whenever
you bump into an old friend.
"Yeah, I know. I'm so glad the week is over," Vicki said.
"So what have you got there? They're so pretty." Meredith reached
out to fondle the buds of the white roses and Vicki felt her
stomach drop. She didn't want to tell this woman how beautiful
the flowers would look in her apartment and that she had bought
them simply for herself and because she liked them. Meredith was
only an acquaintance,
but Vicki knew that her idea of beauty was the leather interior
on the new Lexus SUV that her husband was sure to buy for her if
she gave him enough sexual favors.
"Oh, you know how it is, just had to pick up some things."
"Some things? Hmmm," Meredith drew the syllable out long, pouted
her botoxed lips and then flashed that fake smile again before
going on. "Come on Victoria? Who's the new man in your life?"
"There's no man, honest. I don't have the time."
"Oh, well that's too bad." The two women stood silent on the
sidewalk with Vicki's car door propped half open for a second.
Vicki wondered: What was too bad about not having a man? She also
wondered why Meredith, who was almost forty, still played with
her hair when she had nothing to say, as if she was some kind of
Barbie doll come to life. "Just a few things to pick up, huh?
Well, where did those come from? Have you got some kind of secret
admirer you don't want anyone to know about?"
"The flowers?" Vicki asked rhetorically. "No, I wish. I bought
them." Secret admirer? How stupid. Vicki didn't need to keep her
relationships secret. Unlike, her Barbie doll acquaintance, she
wasn't married and she could tell anybody in the world she wanted
to about who she slept with. But you can't say those things out
loud to other people.
"Oh..." At least Meredith shut up for a minute after that.
"Well, you know I'm bringing them to my parents tonight for
dinner. You know, my father's been sick and all and my mom's
having a rough time."
"Oh my God! I'm so sorry." Upon hearing that lie, Meredith really
laid the bullshit on thick. Her voice became so high it was
nearly a squeak and she even clasped her hands to her lips like a
person who had just witnessed a horrible accident like someone
just getting hit by a bus in the street, or something.
"Yeah. It's been tough." Vicki let out a long sigh just to add
credibility to her lie, but she didn't have to. Just talk about
something serious like life and death, right and wrong, and
Barbie dolls like Meredith are sure to just melt away.
"Well tell your parents I hope they feel better, but let me go, I
have to be home before John gets back from the office. It was so
nice to see you again though Victoria. Call me. We should get
"Yeah," Vicki said without really meaning it.
The two women hugged and give each other kisses on the cheek all
over again, Meredith flashed a couple more of her supermodel
smiles, and Vicki placed the flowers on the passenger seat and
sat behind the steering wheel of her car. Just like that it was
all over. Some people like Meredith, Vicki thought, you just
couldn't talk to about serious things.
That evening as Vicki sat down on her sofa and watched TV in her
empty and otherwise silent studio apartment she looked over at
the little table with the marble top and saw the setting sun
light up the white roses. The flowers glowed in the light of the
dusk all by themselves and they were even more beautiful than
Vicki thought they would be.