Aria

The moment she got there, she knew she had made a mistake. She could feel her body pulling the gazes of passersby. She was sure they knew. Sure they could see her: middle aged, in a dress and heels, alone, standing awkwardly in front of the flower bouquet refrigerator, her weight shifting with a slight click on the patterned grocery store floor from time to time. She looked through the store’s scant selection, glancing at their tags. 

“Minuet.” 

“Harmony.” 

“Concerto.” 

They weren’t supposed to make her sad, but they did. So naive. So hopeful. Did these poor blooms not know they were next to the bubble gum and the batteries? You can’t name something “Concerto” and stack it just feet away from the self-checkout register. It’s embarrassing. Cheap flowers announcing to the world how specialthey want to be! Grab us with your energy drink or your tabloid! 

She felt like this every time she did it. Naked. Like her desire to be loved was showing. Still, she came back every weekend. She muscled past the shame of getting dressed for no one. She got into her gray Mazda, drove five blocks to the store, and stood here, adamant. 

Her eyes watering just a bit, a slight tremble in her hand, she reached in the fridge, and pulled out the most extravagant bouquet there: “Aria.”