The bell over the front door constantly dinging in the background, I led the new recruit towards the front of my flower shop.
Fields of red sunflowers and striped roses covered the walls. We passed by white lilies, blue hydrangeas, and metallic orchids sprouting from the floor. The tiny flower shop was crammed with as many flowers as we could fit.
â€œSorry about this,â€ I remarked as we squeezed by a customer licking some striped roses, â€œthis is something youâ€™ll get used to.â€ Jane, with eager eyes nodded her head, â€œa lot of customers get confused by what is edible.â€
When we pushed our way to the front of the store a naked man was flipping us off out front. Holding our attention, though, was a bright orange crunchy flower prominently displayed in the glass window.
â€œThis is truthfully the only edible flower we sell. Even though a lot of teenagers will come in here asking to buy drugs, we donâ€™t sell them any.â€
Jane took the flower in her hand, â€œthis is soo beautiful. I really admire your flower shopâ€™s creative genius. I never thought of merging a cooked genome and a raw one.â€
â€œThanks, itâ€™s really because of Beverly though.â€ I looked over at the checkout counter where all three of my employees were working overtime to keep the business afloat. My two nephews were busy packing, scanning, packing, and scanning. They had gotten quick recently.
Alongside them my longest employee was trying her best. Beverly was cursing under her breathe as she shoved a customerâ€™s plant into their bag. â€œHope you kill it,â€ she said as the customer turned around to leave. For a second Beverly took a fan next to her, put it in front of her face, and took a deep breath of the wind. Then she set it down and took care of the next customer.
Beverly looked up to glare at us both. I immediately turned to Jane, â€œso yeah that little gene splice is actually something that Beverly invented.â€
I winked at Beverly and she returned a death glare. â€œMaybe she needs some coffee,â€ Jane suggested.
I looked at Jane absently as I pondered the last few years. It wasnâ€™t always like this. I thought to myself. Beverly used to be so much fun. The truth is whenever we got together; we had such a blast. We actually used to be great friends, and for both of us botany was our passion. Especially her, she had a really crazy way of looking at the world and she was able to accomplish things in the field of botany that I couldnâ€™t have imagined. Even something as impossible sounding as splicing a cheetoh and a rose. Of course, Beverly did always love pushing herself. One time she evenâ€”
â€œUm, excuse me?â€ Jane waved her hand in front of my face.
â€œSorry, I just got distracted for a moment. Okay letâ€™s get you started by learning the checkout counter.â€ We stepped around a group of people leaving who were pushing against another group of people entering.
â€œHey guys, this is Jane. Please do your best to make her feel welcome and get her up to speed on our operations here.â€
Beverly stared at us both with unblinking hatred in her eyes.
â€œOkay Beverly can we talk for a second?â€
Beverly followed me into the back while my nephews showed Jane how to operate the point-of-sale system.
â€œWhatâ€™s going on?â€
Beverly pushed me away and replied, â€œnothing.â€
â€œYou just seem upset lately; did I say something?â€
â€œNOOOO, not everything is about you Katherine.â€
I was hurt. â€œYou know, I just want to help you Bev.â€
â€œThe only thing you want is to keep your business afloat.â€
â€œOf course, I want to keep the business afloat. We are doing better than we have ever done before and itâ€™s all because of you. I donâ€™t know what I would do without you.â€
â€œFine, just let me be cranky today, and Iâ€™ll be better tomorrow.â€
â€œOkay you promise?â€ I asked.
â€œDeal,â€ she agreed.
I stood there and watched as she returned to the counter, squeezing in behind my nephews and taking a customerâ€™s plant in her hand. If Beverly were to leave it could easily spell out ruin for my little shop, so whatever the problem was I needed to fix it. But before that there were books to balance and checks to write.
Without a second thought I turned around and hiked straight to the back of the store. There wasnâ€™t much of an office inside of our storage room, but we made do. So, I sat crisscross applesauce and opened my QuickBooks browser.
I got caught up in the numbers when my two nephews stormed into the room crying out â€œHelp!â€
Instinctively I ran towards the front of the store pushing past them. Beverlyâ€™s voice shrieking â€œgorilla girl,â€ was the first thing I heard. Everyone in the store was standing still and watching.
Then Janeâ€™s rebuttal seemed like a slap in the face, â€œat least Iâ€™m not a Prehistoric Feminist Nazi!â€
â€œWhat is going on?â€ I yelled stepping between them.
Beverly hurled her accusation against me. â€œYou need to send this new girl home so she can shave; she is making the customers uncomfortable.â€
â€œEVERYONE GROWS HAIR!â€ Jane screamed back at her.
â€œIâ€™m smooth as Babyâ€™s Baptism Okay! I donâ€™t know what youâ€™re talking about.â€
â€œThis is really not funny. Beverly come with me.â€
I led her into the back and asked, â€œwhy have you been acting like this?â€
â€œShe is disgusting,â€
â€œShe is wearing a sweater.â€
â€œYeah, but when she rolls the sleeves up. Her hair is just wafting in the wind.â€
â€œBeverly,â€ I exclaimed, â€œwhat is this really about?â€
Beverlyâ€™s lips curled in as she stood their pouting.
â€œIs this about you needing Wednesday and Thursday off?â€
â€œNo,â€ she replied. â€œI donâ€™t need those days off. I swore that I would never need them off again.â€
It was obvious that Beverly wasnâ€™t going to tell me what I needed to know. So, I decided on one last ditch effort.
Reaching my hands around her I began to cry. â€œJust tell me what is going on.â€
Beverlyâ€™s emotions began to bubble up before she started crying as well, â€œIâ€™m addicted to sky-diving.â€
â€œIt started a few months ago, you know Iâ€™ve always been someone who likes to push the boundaries. But after I discovered the cheetoh hybrid flower I was lost. Even though we were having the most success ever; I wanted to cry so much. Then I discovered sky-diving.â€
â€œHow often do you skydive?â€
â€œIâ€™m so ashamed.â€
â€œNo,â€ I soothed her, â€œyou donâ€™t have to talk about it if you donâ€™t want to.â€
â€œI want to talk about it,â€ she screamed at me. â€œEveryday, I skydive every single day.â€
â€œOkay, well what can I do to help?â€
Her reply was ice, â€œI need to quit.â€
â€œYou,â€ I started before losing my words and shaking my head, â€œyou can just take as much time off as you need.â€
Her response was firm, â€œIâ€™m moving to another city in the middle of nowhere. I canâ€™t be near any planes.â€
â€œOkay,â€ I began to cry with her as we embraced. Then It was time.
Beverly looked at me with the kindest eyes. â€œI love you Katherine. Please keep in touch.â€ In the next moment, she was gone, and I couldnâ€™t follow her because a surge of new customers had walked in the door.