“If you have two pennies, spend one on bread
and one on a flower. The bread will give you
life and the flower will give you a reason to live.”
Celia stood on the cobblestone walkway looking at the name, ever so elegantly painted over the bay window in beautiful cursive writing: The Ladybug Florist.
“Will that be all?” the painter asked, poking his head out of the doorway.
She followed him inside and admired the Chinese proverb he’d painted over the cash register. “You do fine work,” she said.
She was pleased with the details. Except for one thing. “Before you go, can you make the dot on the ‘I’ in Florist a ladybug?” Celia asked.
It’s all about the details to Celia, all the way down to placing a ladybug sticker in each arrangement, in the right spot.
The painter didn’t question her. He set his ladder up behind the cash register and began to work his magic. Celia left him alone to finish. There was new inventory to put up, flowers to cut, and arrangements to be made. With orders flowing in, she wasn’t about to complain.
Celia had dreamed of owning her own English floral shop, and when the two bedroom cottage on the outskirts of Grandberry Falls, Kentucky, went up for sale--Celia snatched the opportunity.
Celia bent down to stop Charlie from barking when the bell hanging above the front door rang. “Shh! You’re going to scare the customers.”
After Celia’s mother died, she went to the pound in Lexington to look for a dog for her father. A companion of sorts. Instead, the silver-haired miniature schnauzer found her. She was perfect for him, as Charlie was for her. He gave her two things a man never could: loyalty and unconditional love.
“I can’t keep up with all these deliveries, Celia.” Marty Briggs’ voice boomed throughout the old clapboard house. “You are going to have to hire someone. I’m just too old.”
She started to snip away the bright orange Gerber daisies as her father came in. She didn’t have to look up to hear the anger in his voice. He was good at letting her know how much he dislikes being the only flower delivery boy in town.
“I know, Dad, but you’re retired, and it gives you something to do. Everyone in town is always telling me how much they love visiting with you.” She continued to cut one daisy after the other, keeping a cautious eye on her father.
“When you started this business you told me that I would be delivering on a temporary basis.”
Marty looked at the arrangements left to be delivered.
“You need to hire someone else. Place a wanted ad in this week’s paper.”
“Don’t you enjoy getting out of the house and visiting with Mamie down at the Fatted Pig during your coffee breaks?” Celia looked up to see if her dad would react at the mere mention of Mamie Beale’s name.
Celia’s heard faint rumors about Mamie taking a fancy to her father over the past few months.
“Celia Briggs, what are you implying?” Marty’s voice gave off a distinct displeasure at her accusations.
“I’m not implying anything, Dad. I think you need to get out of your house, and if you’re not delivering flowers you might not ever leave your TV.” Celia wasn’t about to tell him not to court Mamie, or press him for more information when he clearly wasn’t going to be forthcoming.
“Well.” Marty bent down to pick up a couple arrangements. “I can’t do them all anymore. You’re business is growing, and I’m more tired now than I was at Benton’s.”
Celia had several fond memories of her father being the manager at Benton’s IGA, the only grocery store in town. Many times she’d fling the Coke bottles down the bottle return as fast as she could so they would break in a big pile at the end. And many times she heard Mavis Prattle scream, “Marty Briggs, that child of yours has got to go home!” It only caused Celia to fling them harder the next time.
She knew her dad was right. The job was getting bigger than she planned. But, every since he’d been delivering flowers, she’d seen a difference in him. It was hard on all of them since her mother passed a couple of years ago.
Besides, Celia only gave him what she called “happy orders”: birthdays, anniversaries, births, just because occasions. He wasn’t ready for funeral homes, the sick or death deliveries. She left those for herself, which she found was leaving her little time to fulfill the orders too.