Myrna is needled in a flowershop and Jack is bored.7 min read
Chapter Ten: Pre-Show Jitters
In a tucked-away corner of Aelfsburg, just outside of Rosa’s Fresh Year-Round Flower Emporium, two figures teleported in mid-conversation.
“What I don’t understand is why you asked me,” said Bernard, rearranging the curl disbursement beneath his hat.
“Because you know me enough to know what I mean to say. And you’re better at this sort of thing,” said Myrna, sparkling in with her hand already on her hip.
Bernard snorted, “Not that much better.”
“Still better. C’mon,” she concluded as if she’d made an air-tight argument, holding the shop door open. A bell tinkled from somewhere as he crossed the threshold.
“Be with you in a minute!” sang out an unseen voice.
Walking into the shop felt like walking into a pot someone had left to boil and forgot about. The humidity left Bernard feeling as if he’d put on too many layers for winter at the North Pole. Shelves of flower arrangements lined the walls, organized by color into a rainbow circling the tiny one-room shop. A dual-purpose checkout counter and arranging station was set up in front of the furthest wall. Behind it, a soft-brown door interrupted the gradient of green to blue. A sign that read “Employees only. Do not enter,” hung on the door by tape curling at the edges where dirt had worked its way into the adhesive.
Myrna had wandered over to the red section of the store. Another sign hung lopsidedly before a cluster of roses.
Forgot a date?
Made a mess of things?
Apologies go down better with roses.
“Are roses only a romantic thing?” she asked as Bernard came up beside her.
“I don’t know, but I’d think it was romantic if I received some.”
“Sorry for making you wait,” said the elf exiting the employees only room. The gradient seemed more complete with her standing in front of the door, as her mud-smeared aquamarine overalls were the exact shade that fit between the surrounding flora. The effect was lost when she approached the counter, as the most you could see of her then was her matching bandana holding back her poof of hair and her half-moon eyes peeking over the countertop.
“Welcome!” she chirped before disappearing completely beneath the counter. “Feel free to look through our pre-made arrangements,” she said over the sounds of rummaging. “We can also do custom orders for no extra charge.” There was a painfully loud wooden scrape, then she popped back up into view, now visible from the waist up. She smiled over at them. “Just let me know if you need anything! I’m Rosa,” she said, materializing a flowerpot on the counter.
“Thank you, we will,” Bernard answered. Myrna nodded once in her direction before returning her attention to the tiger lillies.
“You know,” he said, leaning over to keep the conversation private, “It might not be a bad idea to include romantic undertones.”
Myrna turned to him, eyebrow raised.
He raised his eyebrows back. “What? You’re telling me you don’t like her?”
The bridge of her nose turned a soft carnation pink. “I don’t think asking her out while she’s mad at me is the best idea.”
“I didn’t say ‘ask her out,’ I said romantic undertones.”
Myrna rolled her eyes, moving along to the daffodils. Bernard followed.
“Look, I know I don’t have a ton of experience with this, but I’ve had enough to know that doing nothing and hoping for the best isn’t going to result in anything.”
The pink on her nose had darkened and spilled onto her cheeks. “Shut up.”
“Are you planning on asking her out at some point?”
The pink severely diminished the biting stare she shot him. “The only thing I want to do now is congratulate her on the opening night and hopefully get her talking to me again. That’s. It.” She punctuated the last two words with sharp jabs to the chest.
“Ow,” he said, rubbing the bruises she no doubt had left behind, “you know, this is why you don’t have much experience with this sort of thing.”
“Everything alright?” Rosa said, cutting in before Myrna could retaliate.
“We’re fine,” Myrna growled, snapping back around to the daffodils.
“Actually,” said Bernard, “my sister needs some help picking out something for a friend.”
Myrna ignored him.
“Close friend?” asked Rosa.
“Oh, very,” he said, tapping the side of his nose, “The kind she’d like to get closer to if you know what I mean.”
Even turned away, Bernard could see Myrna’s ears had also turned pink.
Rosa’s eyes lit up. “Oh, I can definitely help with that.”
Jack had no idea being Santa could be so boring.
“What do you think about this?”
If it wasn’t a mountain of paperwork on his desk, it was following Curtis around as he covered every stupid inch of the North Pole, ordering people around or fiddling with one piece of machinery or another.
“Do you understand what this is for?”
To top it all off, Curtis demanded input from Jack every five seconds, so his mind had to stay engaged through the tedium.
“Are you paying attention?”
Ugh. Why couldn’t he just stay out of the way and dissociate until he could go home? At least then his mind might wander in interesting directions.
“Jack, did you hear me?”
But nooooooo, Curtis required participation.
A hand waved in front of his vacant stare. “Sir? You there?”
“Mm?” said Jack, giving up his efforts to ignore the pipsqueak. He let his vision drift back to the present. Curtis had stretched himself as far as he could reach over his desk but only managed to reach about halfway. The hand he hadn’t kept free for waving in his face was propping him upright, resting atop the paper he’d been reading aloud from. He retracted back to an upright position once Jack made eye contact.
“The report?” he said, holding up said paper, “That just came in? About the mold in the stuffing? We have to go deal with it.”
“Now?” Jack whined, glancing at the clock hanging on the office wall. It was nearly obscured amongst the rest of the extravagant decorations. 8:30 pm.
A memory triggered. “I can’t,” he said, vaulting to the edge of his seat.
“I have tickets,” he said, digging around his coat’s many pockets. It had arrived a few days after his first foray into the theater. He’d done little more than stuff it into his pockets after opening them. “They’re for tonight,” he added once he found and pulled out the half-crumpled get-out-of-work-early excuse.
Curtis took it and held it up close to his face, scrutinizing the print. This wasn’t the first time Jack had tried to weasel his way out of work. He squinted at him over the top of the ticket. “Why didn’t you mention this earlier?” he asked.
“I did,” said Jack, placing a hand over his heart. “It hurts that you don’t remember.”
Curtis frowned at him over the ticket. He knew for a fact he hadn’t; otherwise, he’d have accounted for it and let him leave much earlier than this. But the ticket was legit…
“Guess I’ll deal with the mold myself,” he said, handing the ticket over to Jack, who nearly slapped his hand snatching it back.
“Excellent! In that case, I’ll see you tomorrow. Goodbye!” said Jack, booking it as fast as he could make appear casual towards the door.
“Not tomorrow, the 7th! It’s Elfmas!”
The only response was a door slam. Curtis shrugged, gathering what he’d need. He didn’t particularly care if Jack had registered that no one would be here the next day. If he wanted to show up on the one day the entire workshop shut down, let him. He had rotten stuffing to deal with.
A/N: Hey, so this may seem a bit short given the time it’s taken me to update. Don’t worry. More is coming. Much sooner, I promise. I’m gonna try writing these in the segments/chapters I had planned in my outline, but because they were getting far too long, I’ll cut them up into more appropriate lengths and update them on a weekly basis once I get the whole section done. Hopefully, this will shorten the writing time required a bit. So a couple more chapters will be following this one in the next couple of weeks. Enjoy!