Up close she could see the lily innocence of her skin. She was still a girl, really. The strange girl turned her body to face Claudia head-on and said, "You're a flower girl too, you know."
She had carnations and daisies patterned pants, an orchid printed shirt, and a cardigan with knit roses dangling all over. Lavender barrettes held her strawberry blonde hair up, daffodil earrings sparkling in the sun, fuchsia petunia tattoos along her wrists, a violet design painted on her half-shaved head. Claudia took a step back as blood rushed to her face and she covered her mouth stuffing back the what on earth are you getting at.
"Excuse me, I didn't see you there," Claudia said as she squinted to avert her eyes from all of the girl's brightness and returned to her route home, forcing her New Balances with the padded arches to the limit on the sidewalk. Her sensible work flats in her leather backpack, clamoring back and forth mixing with the whooshing of her black polyester slacks as she kept quickening her gait on her strolls. Day by day, the burn of her anxiety pushed through her feet.
¨I know you didn't see me, you were walking so fast. You have passed me by everyday for the last week in this very spot. All, intense business ladying it out. What are you thinking about being lost in your thoughts like that?" the flower girl said as she took Claudia's hand and led her to the patches of flowers on the side of the busy city sidewalk. Recoiling from the flower girl, Claudia shoved her hands in her trousers.
Thinking about? Dan from accounting was totally incompetent and Neal wasn't staying on top of his work, making her duties all the more tedious. The idiot manager, George, never should have been given that position when she had earned it. Claudia answered, "Nothing, just being efficient, this is my time to get exercise that is why I don't take my car to work. I get home a little bit faster each week."
The flower girl glowed in this subdued industrial area. She squinted her eyes and moved close to Claudia's face and sized up her business casual attire. "Early thirties?" she asked.
"Twenty-three, not that it is any of your..." the flower girl grabbed her hand again and tugged her to the flower patches off the sidewalk onto a path. "Ridonkulous, I have to show you, come on.¨
"What are you doing?¨ Claudia asked, "Are you ok? Do you need me to call someone for you?" Claudia scanned the gray office buildings and vacant smoke stained hotel for someone that could help her if need be. No pedestrians, just the vroom of vehicles.
The flower girl guffawed, opening her mouth so wide that Claudia could see her sunflower tongue ring dancing. ¨You think I need help?"
¨Follow me, you need this, I promise. It is just over here," the flower girl said as she kept her hands in the air as if she was being held up and pointed to the flower patches. Claudia watched her without moving, her arms folded in front of her. She thought about the emails she needed to send and wanted to review the power point for the big presentation one more time before bed. She shook her head, nope, and backed up a couple of paces back to the sidewalk.
The flower girl crouched down and plucked a pink daisy from the ground and put it behind her ear then whistled over the other daisies. A daisy grew and thickened to flower girl's size. A door knob emerged on its stem. It looked like a sculpture she had seen in an amusement park once, but it quivered with the wind. It made her feel dizzy.
Claudia blinked hard and rubbed her eyes, her breath quickened and she grabbed her chest.
"Its ok," the flower girl said. ¨I know, when I first saw a daisy door I felt a bit queasy too. It is totally normal." She moved her hand to the soft knob, "I'm going to open this now."
Claudia stood there with her hand over her mouth. "That's not a no, so...close enough," the flower girl said. She opened the daisy door and a blinding light greeted them.
Shielding her eyes from the light, Claudia shuffled back to the sidewalk and watched the taxis and sedans pass her by on the road. This is ridiculous, she thought, I can go home and forget about all of this. A bus drove by and Claudia focused on one passenger in particular. A little girl wearing a crown, reading a book and smiling. Adventure.
Claudia turned around towards the giant daisy door and moved to the light and into the flower. "I knew it!" the flower girl said following her with a skip and a twirl.
It was a tulip field with stripes of every color of the rainbow coating the rolling hills. The flower girl blended in here perfectly. The tulips continued for miles into the turquoise-blue horizon. A low hum welcomed her, a mixture of bees and hummingbirds. The sun's warmth hugged her. The flowers undulated from the wind. A cotton candy fragrance made Claudia smile and think of how she used to roll around in her grandmother's garden.
"Don´t breathe too deeply. You might get light-headed from the tulip powder," the flower girl warned.
Claudia took off her backpack and dropped it on the ground. A purple cloud mushroomed. She ran through the fields as hard as she could, heart thumping in her temples and her knees screaming. Her vision blurred by all of the tulip colors like looking through a kaleidoscope.
Flower girl laughed. ¨I'll watch your bag," she yelled.
Claudia dived into a patch of orange tulips and rolled over them. The blossoms dyed her white collared blouse with orange blotches. She laid on her back staring at the blue sky with puffy clouds and caught her breath again. Her grandmother would make peppermint tea and bring out macarons and cotton candy while they told stories to the flowers. No worries, no deadlines, no promotions, just living in the moment. Claudia took a petal into her hand and whispered, "I stopped talking to you so long ago."
The flower girl looked down at her, blocking her view of the white puffy cloud animals with a huge grin. "I told you! You're a flower girl too!"
Claudia hugged several tulips to her chest and said, "I forgot.. It happened so fast..."
The flower girl put out her hand to help Claudia up. ¨We should get going, it will be night here soon and the door closes at night. You don't want to get stuck here. Not yet, anyway."
As they approached the daisy door exit, the flower girl said, "It is your turn now, you´ll have to find the next flower girl and show her the way."
¨How am I going to do that?" Claudia asked while she walked through the door and then covered her ears as the traffic noise overwhelmed her.
When she turned, the flower girl stood in the doorway, holding it open. ¨Think about why I stopped you, today. You'll have to start talking to the flowers again too, they will teach you." She shut the door from the inside, staying in the tulip fields. The daisy door drizzled down into a pile of small flowers.
As Claudia walked home she greeted and introduced herself to the different flower patches along her route. The ones she had never noticed before.
If you are interested in some of my other flash fiction and short stories, you can check these out. I write one each month on my blog:
Story Synopsis: A young tree deals with its first winter losing its leaves.
Story Synopsis: What if your co-worker spent their lunch climbing trees? A small office comes to terms with what Taytum does each day.
Story Synopsis: A detective comes to a town and realizes all the children are missing on Halloween. Follow her as she uses her powers to touch objects and see what transpired.
Story Synopsis: Paisley McKaley was so sweet. So sweet in fact, little peppermint candies fell from her at random moments through out the day. When the pandemic hits, she needs to reflect on what being sweet really means.
Story Snyopsis: Amy Remy made two masks, one for each of her grandchildren. They were infused with protective magic, but the outlook of each wearer was very different.
Story Synopsis: Written from the perspective of a Gothic Cathedral that has decided to force her city's historical society to let her move to the place of her dreams.
Story Synopsis: Written from the perspective of the sea, she talks about her artistic expressions during the tides.
Story Synopsis: A surrealist piece of flash fiction about working from home during the pandemic.
Story Synopsis: A goofy short story about a prince that collects youtubers in his palace.
Story Synopsis: Caredwyn is at the beach with her mother processing her new life after divorce. She finds her elixir in the sea.
Story Synopsis: Mimi VanHopkins is distracted by her magazine on her way to take a bubble bath and is met with a very real dilemma.
Story Synopsis: The path near Karney’s Creek has a wild bee swarm and everyone knows Kalista Green is the best bee wrangler in town. However, something strange is going on with these bees.
Story Synopsis: It was metal head grandma's 150th birthday and she damn well was going to build a jellyfish graveyard in her apartment if she wanted to.
Story Synopsis: A young woman goes on her first camping trip and is greeted by an unexpected visitor.