Coming out of hibernation

It’s been a while since we spoke, and things have probably been just as busy for you in the last couple of weeks. But now that spring has truly sprung (in the northern hemisphere, at least), you’ll soon see and hear all sorts of things sprouting. And if you’re not inclined to look for the green shoots of economic recovery, may we suggest some blooming fiction of a slightly darker note?

The Florist
by Bilal Ghafoor

The bells draped above the old wooden door ringled-tingled beautifully, as they always did whenever someone came in. The old man pushed one last white and pink carnation in to the vase, wiped his ropy fingers on his apron and bent himself past the boxes to see who had come in. Normally, he would have gone up to the customer and showered him with smiles and avuncular advice; how to apologise to a spouse with just the right shade of blood-red roses or how to charm a friend€™s wife on her birthday without flirting using yellow roses. The customer who had just walked in seemed, however, to have no such needs; he was quietly bending over a spray of azaleas and starting to examine each bloom carefully.
Albert returned to his work, lovingly arranging each stem; he almost forgot about the young man, when he heard a gentle cough. Another wipe of the hands and he shuffled behind the cracked old wooden counter. He stared into the eyes of the young man. They were speckled green and blue, and yet they sucked in the light around him. They narrowed slightly as he tendered a ten pound note. Albert glanced down at the counter. Three flowers. Kerching, change and he was gone. Continue reading