‘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)

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