Harley & Rose(5)By: Carmen Jenner
“Er … you said 313.”
“Exactly.” I throw up my hands in exasperated agreeance, stumble around the not-so-bright man-child known as Bran, and wander off down the hall to the elevator, smiling all the while because I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t happy my best friend isn’t wearing a wedding ring on his finger right now.
Who gets married in February anyway? That might be fine if you live in Canada and are okay with freezing off your lady parts at a white winter wedding, but a San Franciscan wedding? No. Not unless you’re hoping your bride will just up and float away on the next big gust of wind. Turns out we didn’t need the San Franciscan weather to lose Harley’s fiancée, but that didn’t matter, because this was never meant to be his wedding day. And he was never meant to walk down the aisle with that trollop by his side.
One day, it will be me watching the way his eyes crinkle at the corners and brim with tears as I walk toward him. One day, it will be my ring he wears and I, his. One day, I’ll marry my best friend.
I just need a little time to convince him of that.
I turn my key in the lock and stumble through the front door of my shop, Darling Buds. Yes, the name may have been inspired by our shared love of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, but ten years of playing Wendy Darling to Harley’s Peter will do that to a girl, I suppose. Just to annoy the ever-loving crap out of my very best friend, I like to say it came from H.E. Bates’ novel, The Darling Buds of May. I think he knows that isn’t true.
Darling Buds is a tiny little store with a studio apartment above it on 24th Street. It’s sandwiched between a kitschy home décor boutique and an independent bookstore, and located just a half a block down from the smallest Wholefoods you’ve ever seen. And the best part about living where I work? No daily commute. It’s just a few doors down from Harley’s apartment too, which is why I’ll never move. Unless of course he does.
I’ve always loved flowers; I’ve loved to put my hands into the soil and grow things ever since I was a kid. When Harley was running his Tonka trucks through the dirt, I was planting blades of grass and imagining they’d flower into luscious, fat rosebuds, or a beanstalk that led to the sky. Much to my mother’s dismay, when it was time to say goodbye at my Grammy’s funeral, I was found rearranging the wreaths and the coffin spray—because everybody knows you don’t put daffodils in a mixed bouquet, and if they hadn’t known, they did now.
I gather my face products, toothbrush and toothpaste, and a few low-maintenance items of makeup, placing them in a travel bag and throwing them on the bed, then I take my suitcase from out of the cupboard and start randomly tossing in articles of clothing. I’m choosing between two pairs of swimsuits when a key slides into the lock downstairs. My parents are the only ones with a key so I don’t give too much thought as to what they’re doing here and I continue packing.
“Well she must be here; the lights are on,” my mother says, presumably to my dad.
“Oh, Rose, good you’re here. She’s here, Herb.”
“I heard,” Dad says matter-of-factly, as my mother’s footsteps echo up the stairs. “Alright, bring them in.”
I race out to the landing and almost collide with my mother on the staircase overlooking the shop. She’s switched out her deep navy Tadashi Shoji cord-embroidered lace cocktail dress for a velour hot pink track suit with Juicy stamped over her ass. For a woman who owns basically every wrap dress that Diane Von Furstenberg ever put out, I’m surprised the two items coexist peacefully in her wardrobe. Embarrassing leisurewear aside, my mother has impeccable taste; she’s like the Blythe Danner of SF. My dad, on the other hand? Not so much. He wears argyle sweater vests all year around, unless of course there’s a function to attend, and then he swaps argyle for tweed. Today he’s in a burgundy velour Adidas tracksuit. What is happening with my parents right now? Did someone put LSD in my champagne? My dad is also, I note, having delivery guys bring in all of the arrangements from the wedding. Harley’s wedding.