‘You the boss?’
Lleyton looked up. ‘Do I look like the boss?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘I’m just the apprentice.’
‘Oh.’ Danii’s face dropped. ‘I wanted to find out how I could work here.’
‘You’d need to talk to ——’
‘Riva.’ A woman as extravagant as a lily clattered through the bamboo screen. ‘Why should I employ you?’
‘I need the work,’ she said.
Lleyton mouthed ‘Flowers’.
‘And I love flowers.’
Riva hired her on probation. ‘Last three months and I’ll make it permanent.’
Danii learned quickly. Lleyton watched her closely. He noticed a frightened edge to everything she did. He taught her tricks to make the job easier. He hoped she stay. She’d make a great florist.
But one morning she didn’t turn up. When the orders were done Lleyton said he had something to do.
‘First the girl, now you. Is this a charity?’
Lleyton pedalled to the address he’d found—a squallid place in a squallid block.
Danii answered. A voice behind her called, ‘Whoo-isshud? Goway.’
‘Why didn’t you come in? said Lleyton.
Danii stepped out. ‘I can’t explain.’ A bottle crashed on a wall inside.
All Lleyton wanted was to take her from that place. Against a torrent of slurred obscenity he realised he loved her. But she turned from him back into the dark room.
2011—Richard Holt / small stories about love (smallstoriesaboutlove.wordpress.com)