Vicki walked out of the florist's shop holding the dozen white roses away from herself, but still close enough to catch their scent.
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 schoolgirl laughter.
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 surgery.
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 it.
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
..:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "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 around here?"
"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.
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