By Neena Grewal, TIWP Student
There were lots of interesting things in the shop across from Dodie’s Bees, according to Dodie himself. The first on the list were the painstakingly painted handles of garden shovels, varying from heights the size of Dodie’s palm to sizes tall enough to brush his rib cage. They were painted with what looked to be acrylic, though Dodie never went close enough to the shop to tell. But on these wooden handles were dazzling sunsets, angry storms, a delicate rose.
The next thing on the list were the interesting containers for the plants sold there. Some people left the store with carefully wrapped flowers, but the windows were lined with gardenias in worn out boots, a basil plant potted in a rubber duck, and Christmas ornaments trapping a succulent in their round bodies. An old sofa had its arms ripped out and replaced with carefully carved hedge bushes, and in the corner was a coat rack decked with trumpet vines, draping across the hooks.
The third part of the list was simply the sheer amount of life and color in the store. Tendrils of ivy and thousands of tiny elderflowers burst out of the door. A wheelbarrow, dark green and stagnant, was overflowing with lavender, sunflowers, jasmine, mint. Rocks, painted by children who enjoyed the sweet smells escaping the store and the man who let them play hopscotch on his segment of sidewalk, lined the windowsill.
The last, and best, part of the store was of course the pair of candy green eyes that belonged to the owner. From what Dodie could tell, they were emeralds in the morning, shaded leaves in the hot summer sun in the afternoon, and granny-smith in the evening. But whatever the shade, they were still vibrant and green and magical enough to leave Dodie in a trance.
When Dodie finally found enough courage to shuffle across the street to the vivid flowers and eyes, it was with intent to pretend he had a boyfriend to get flowers for, as a way to show the florist that he was into men.
Dodie paused before the desk, staring at the eyes that were flaked with toffee and streaked with gold. The eyes he had been peeking at for the last month. “Hi,” the man said.
“Hello,” Dodie replied, choking on his own tongue. “I need to buy some flowers.”
“Perfect.” The skin around the candy green eyes crinkled around his corneas, and all ideas of lying to this man fly out the window. Dodie watches as the florist’s smile grows as slow as a rosebud. He’s dressed sharply, with a crisp pastel dress shirt and perfectly pressed slacks. Frowning, the beekeeper looks down at his own attire: a rumpled shirt, rolled unevenly at the sleeves, jeans stained with honey and tea, an apron neon yellow with little bees sloppily embroidered by his daughter who had developed a habit of practicing the new skill on all his clothes.
“Um, it’s for my daughter,” Dodie stutters, silently scolding himself for mentioning Annika to this gorgeous man. What if he hated kids? “She’s in a school performance.”
The man chuckles. “I get it, my son is in a band so I always have to steal from my stock to get him a bouquet. Do you know what kinda flower she’d like?”
“Violets,” Dodie replies immediately. “Um, she likes violets.”
“Violets, huh?” the man turns from the customer and pulls a couple stems out of the buckets of single flowers behind the counter. It only takes a few moments for him to collect a stylish collection of lilies and roses and, of course, violets. After he rattles off a price, Dodie mumbles a quiet ‘thank you’ before slowly walking out the door, pockets eleven dollars and seven cents lighter.
The bell rings as he exits the shop, plastic wrapping complaining under his tight fingers. When Dodie makes it into his shop, he silently walks into the small side room hidden between the table full of samplers and a shelf full of mugs, bobbles, and tea towels. There, he pulls out the tiny slip of paper from where his change had been stuffed into his apron pocket. On one side is a cheaply printed destiny from a Panda Express fortune cookie, but the other side had something else.
You’re awkward, but it’s cute. Call me. 530-281-4841
Dodie picks out the violets from the bouquet and hangs them up to dry. He’s never tried making tea out of flowers before, but then again he’s never done a lot of things before, including talking to Victor, the florist with candy green eyes. The beekeeper is unsure if the tea will taste good, or even be edible. But, Dodie thinks, violets and honey certainly sound good together.