Harley & Rose(6)

By: Carmen Jenner

“Ah, what’s going on?” I demand while my mother parks herself in front of me on the top stair.

“We thought we’d bring these back. Seems a terrible waste not to resell them.”

“They were a gift, Mom,” I explain. I don’t have time to go into detail about the fact that I can’t resell flowers that have already been cut and wreathed, or the centerpieces that will start to droop in a few hours’ time.

“Yes, and the wedding was called off. Traditionally, if a wedding doesn’t go ahead, people get their gifts back.”

“Mom, you can’t give back flower arrangements. I can’t sell these. They’ve been at the hotel all day, and they’ll start dying off pretty soon.”

“Oh relax.” She waves me away with a lazy hand gesture. “Rochelle said to bring them back here. They’re devastated, by the way. How’s Harley holding up?”

“Well, let’s see, his fiancée left him at the altar and he’s been humiliated in front of two hundred friends, relatives, and strangers. How do you think he is?”

“Poor boy. Still, he dodged a bullet if you ask me. I knew that whore wasn’t going to go through with it; I could see she had cold feet from a mile away.”

“Mom!” I chastise.

“Well, it’s true.” She shoos me back up the stairs and because I know my parents, and I know that there’s no halting the disaster going on downstairs, I trudge back to my suitcase and continue loading it up with things. I don’t know what things, because so far I’m definite on the fact I have toiletries in my bag and possibly one T-shirt—everything else, I’m not sure about.

There’s a crash from downstairs. I listen for a beat. I don’t hear muffled curses or panicked screams because someone fell through a window, so I carry on packing, but shoot my mother a stern look. “Will you please tell Dad not to break anything?”

“Where are you going?” My mother eyes my case suspiciously. “And why aren’t you with Harley?”

“I’m closing the store for a few days. I need a break, and I can’t trust anyone to run this place without me, so I’m going—”

“What am I, chopped liver?” she interrupts.

“What do you mean you’re closing the store?” My dad booms from below. “Time is money, honey. You think Saks 5th Avenue closes its doors because they need a day off?”

“A flower shop is a little bit different than Saks, Dad. I have a regular clientele of twenty-five; I’m not even in the same universe as Saks.”

“Still, there’s only one way they got to be so big.”

I sigh and rub my temple. “Ugh. I don’t … I don’t have time for any of this.”

“Well what’s the rush?” Mom asks, frowning as she looks around my tiny apartment. “Why are you fleeing in the middle of the night like a hardened criminal? Why can’t you leave tomorrow?”

“Because our flight leaves three hours from now, and it’s going to take me forty-five minutes to get across town.”

“Our flight? Just who are you going away with?”

I close my eyes because I know what’s coming.

When I open them again, my mother is looking at me with a horror-stricken expression. “Oh, Rose. You’re not?”

“He asked. What was I supposed to do?”

“He asked you if he could put his penis in your vagina when you were five, too, but did you let him? No.”

“Please don’t talk about my daughter’s vagina,” Dad rumbles from down below. “Wait, you met a man?”

I drive my fingers into my hair, messing up the carefully coiffed style that a hairdresser had spent close to an hour on. I’m not even completely sober yet, and already I have a hangover. “I’m going away with Harley, Dad.”

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