Valentine’s Day Mini-Story
Tommy never asked to work at a flower shop. Being ironically the youngest and only child of 5 children (4 older sisters), without the curse of allergies to pollen, his widowed mother enlisted him to work like the government drafts an unwilling soldier to war. Among the things which he never asked for, was being gay, being a hopeless romantic, and working a twelve hour shift…On Valentine’s Day.
Not only was today the busiest of days, it was also the loneliest for Tommy. Much to his heart’s discontent, all the eligible men who had the reason to stop by a flower shop were all either straight, or gay men who were already taken. Due to his mother being much faster than him on the register, he was stuck in the back preparing the variety of bouquets all men who wouldn’t give him a second glance were fighting for. Despite his jaded attitude towards the botanical business, he did have love the colors, the aroma, and the significance in each flower. From each bouquet, he could tell the personality of every man that was purchasing the bouquet being prepared. Those who bought the traditional red roses were either inexperienced in being romantic, or simply treated Valentine’s day as an opportune time to get laid. Orders that contained pretty, but completely inappropriate flowers for the occasion meant that the buyer didn’t give a shit about the holiday, or simply had no idea what to get. But there was an order that confounded him. A set of dragon orchids. They weren’t technically inappropriate. Dragon orchids meant love, but a mature love. It was beautiful in its own way, unique in its choosing.
“Brandon,” Tommy whispered as he held a card that indicated the buyer. Confounded in the rarity of the flower’s pick, he was startled when his mother had popped in.
“Finally,” his mother sighed, “I think we’ve finally slowed down. Everyone is probably out to dinner by now. Honey, do you mind running the front store for a while? I’m going to go pick up more roses just in case we get some last minute buyers.”
“Sure,” Tommy responded. As his mother put on her coat and scar to hunt for more roses, he proceeded to the front register. He sat down on the stool behind the counter and waited. All that greeted him was snow that had been falling all day, but no customers. He decided to turn up the radio that had been blasting love songs all day. Seeing that no one was there, he might as well jam out to the songs. Tommy was a brilliant singer. He always has been, and anyone lucky to have listened to his voice swoons at the very note. He turned to the bouquets waiting to be picked up behind him and serenaded them as if they were potential valentines. If his voice were able to make flowers bloom, all the flowers would have been even more beautiful than they already were. As the song ended, the unexpected happened.
A clap from behind startled him, almost knocking down a vase of flowers. Just at the last minute, he catches the vase full of roses and turns as bright red as the flowers themselves. He looks up to see who he had been viewing his performance. There he stood, covered in snow, flaked upon mousy brown hair and a black pea coat. His eyes gray as the moon, and slightly rosy cheeks from the cold of the outdoors. He didn’t look much older than Tommy himself, having just turned 19.
“That was impressive,” the mystery man had said to the still blushing Tommy.
“I apologize for that, I didn’t hear you come in,” Tommy said in humiliation.
“Oh no, nothing to be sorry for at all,” said the young man, “I’m here to pick up flowers for Brandon.” So that’s Brandon, thought Tommy. He’s seen him a couple times in the shop. Always picking out dragon orchids, which doesn’t seem as odd when it’s not Valentine’s Day. Tommy’s mind raced how he could only be another straight guy devoted to a strikingly beautiful girl to match Brandon’s modelesque face and body.
“Right, the dragon orchids.” Tommy squeaked as he rushed to the back and grabbed the bouquet. He returned with the flowers and tried to make small talk.
“So, having a nice Valentine’s Day so far?” Tommy asked, despite his doubt that Brandon would be an eligible catch.
“Alright, I guess. I’m about to go out to dinner with a special lady.” Brandon replied as he took out money to pay for the flowers. This was solid proof for Tommy. He didn’t need any other explanation that he was simply delusional in his hopeful wishing that Brandon could be his Valentine.
“That sounds…great,” Tommy reluctantly said. Brandon paid and took the bouquet, and as he was walking out, Tommy blurted out, “Have a lovely dinner with your girlfriend.”
Just as Brandon reached the door, he turned around, gave a smile and said, “The only special lady I’d be willing to take on a date is my grandmother.”
Something about his statement made Tommy fill up with excitement and confusion at the same time. So he could be my Valentine after all, Tommy thought.
The rest of the day went by, and all Tommy could think of was hoping that Brandon would come into the door at any second. But who was he kidding. First, Brandon was immensely more beautiful while Tommy was mediocre. Brandon could have been a model for all he knew and he was merely a flower boy. Lastly, he probably would not be coming back that day.
The end of the day came, and Tommy and his mother were cleaning up the store, ready to close in ten minutes.
“Tommy,” his mother said, “could you please take this crate to the back?” Tommy nodded, took the crate and placed it in the back underneath the workbench he had used to make the bouquets. He sat on the stool just beside the workbench and half collapsed both from exhaustion of a twelve hour shift and the fact that his Valentines day has been a repeat of failure the last 19 years of his life. His mother poked her head through the doorway separating the front store and the back.
“Honey, there’s someone here for a last minute purchase, would you mind helping them?” his mother asked. Tommy moaned in annoyance but trudged to the front store with his head following the ground as he fixed his apron. He looked up, and to his amazement, Brandon was standing there.
“Hi,” Tommy greeted in surprise, “Are you here for a last minute purchase?”
“Yeah, I’d like a rose stem, please.” Brandon replied with his dashing smile.
“Is this one for your grandmother as well?” Tommy asked.
“Actually, no, the dragon orchids have always been her favorite. Ever since my grandfather died, I’ve been giving her a bouquet of dragon orchids every month like my grandfather did when he was still living.” Brandon explained.
“That’s so sweet!” Tommy whispered as he took a quick gaze upon Brandon, “So who is this for?”
“For a Valentine I was going to ask tonight. I have to wait until he’s off work.” Brandon said, “Would you mind putting the rose in a nice wrapper for me?”
“Sure,” said a defeated Tommy. A mixture of disappointment and anger started to build up in him. All he could think about was how he could be so stupid for thinking that he could actually have a Valentine. How could someone like Brandon even give him a second glance?
Tommy handed the rose to Brandon in an almost aggressive way. Just before Brandon turned to exit, he asked, “What time do you guys close tonight?”
Out of anger, Tommy yelped, “Now!” as he walked up to the door with Brandon on the other side and switched the lock and turned the sign to “Closed”.
It was exactly how Tommy foresaw his day to be. Full of sadness, disappointment, and lack of love. Tommy decided that he would just go home with his mom, pop in a romantic movie and eat his feelings away with a tub of ice cream and a box of chocolates. Like every night, his mother proceeded to get the car and have Tommy lock up the flower store. Standing outside in the cold, snow still falling now more calmly, Tommy pulls down the store’s front grills and locks it up.
He turns around, and sees the unexpected. A young man, not much older than him, wearing a black pea coat with mousy brown hair, and grey eyes like the moon, sitting on the bench across the store with the very rose he had packaged earlier. Tommy stood in shock, as he watches Brandon walk towards him.
They meet in front of each other, eye to eye, only communicating at first with the steam rising from their mouths. Brandon lifts his the rose in front of Tommy and says, “I’m sorry, but I had to wait for the person I wanted to ask to get out of work. I know I don’t know you very well, but, would you be my Valentine?”
Tommy stood there unable to believe that he wasn’t hallucinating. For the first time in his life, someone genuinely asked him to be his Valentine. After years of disdain towards everyone else that had someone to celebrate the holiday with, he finally had a Valentine of his own.
His mother in the car beeps him awake. He yells to his mother peering through an open window, “I’ll walk home, Mom!” She gives him a wink, rolls up the window and drives away.
Tommy gratefully receives the rose from Brandon, smiles, and kisses him on the cheek. Brandon, reciprocates the smile with his own enchanting one, and they spend the remaining two hours of Valentine’s day off together.