autotelic, autistic, assonance-hole©.

Just here for the flowers

“No thanks, I’m just here for the flowers.” He turned aside as he said it, sliding the fiver into the hand of the vendor hawking fresh-cut flora by the riverside. The inventory sat untouched, another day of watching the market flock to the pretty blooms and clever packaging while it wilted. Every now and then, someone would sidle up and try to haggle down the already rock-bottom price; claiming everything from being poor to insinuating that, somehow, their need should trump fair value. Most days, it was to trundle home with the weight of unwanted inventory carried like so much ballast.

Tiresome, really, the sense of defeat. No matter how well it was packaged, or how fair the price, it just couldn’t compete with fresh cut flowers and frills. More than once, the storekeep gave serious consideration to chucking it into the river and taking up another life. But, somehow, the memories of gathering and growing it, aging and seasoning it, making it a perfect balance of time and savor just wouldn’t let it find the silty riverbed. The storekeep often chuckled for self-inflicted curses of everything from idealism to insanity. Everyone knows the market is based on supply and demand; why continue trying to sell something that had no market?

The guilty enjoyment of small bundles here and there, on a cold winter night or during harvest moon were assuaged by the reality of plenty that it seemed would never know lacking. The storekeep almost wished that nipping from inventory for personal enjoyment would bring a run of retribution that would find regret for small pilfering. No such luck. The market was for flowers and spice, weightless and delicate things that made the eye happy or sat with savor upon the tongue. The concept of hearth and home and sturdier things rarely caught anyone’s attention, especially with the convenient and industry laden alternatives.

Shrugging the load of it while trudging up the hill to home, the storekeep felt a curl of despair creep along the ribcage and settle heavily over the heart. The cupboards were dusty and the wallet, unmercifully thin. If the inventory couldn’t find a buyer, what might winter bring? It felt nice enough here, now, with Spring only just ’round the corner, but one couldn’t feed upon such as this when the ground grows hard and chill is in the air.

Trudging the last length to the doorway, the storekeep banged it open with more than usual force, grumbling softly about unwanted things and slowly strangling dreams and suddenly angry for throngs of people who could not see beyond pretty petals.