Unofficial sequel to the awesome book "Weedflower" by Cynthia Kadohata. If you haven't read that book yet, shame on you.
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters…graaah…
I unlock the flimsy door to my shop just as the bottom tip of the sun emerges from behind the horizon, flooding the world with sleepy light. The bells hanging from the door handle ring richly, almost like the bells they make for Santa's sleighs.
This little shop I am barely able to run is my pride and joy. Flowers sprout from every inch of the walls and counters. Limp flowers flow from baskets swinging from the ceiling by ropes, reaching down to the floor like angels' hands from the heavens. The morning light, soft and rosy, flows in from the astonishingly large windows.
The most important asset to this shop is the rusty sign hanging outside above the doorway, sporting "Matsuda's Carnations & More" in bright, swirly font.
My dream came true almost six years ago, when the war ended and Ichiro and Bull came home. With their help, I raised a small load of flowers to try out my luck at flower shop-keeping without the aid of advertisement, and the business seemed safe enough for me to dive deeper. So I did, and I ended up where I am now.
I take my place behind the counter and stand there for a moment, before deciding to part the pastel-blue curtains framing the window across from me. We are deep in the summer now, and the heat is beginning to invade the nights as well as the days.
Later on, after a few customers come in, linger, buy what they seek, and leave, I am eating my lunch when the bells ring again. I glance up from my sandwich and my receipt book to find myself looking at the angular figure of a Native-American young man. After he lets the door jingle shut behind him, he looks around the shop, scanning the ceiling, the walls covered in flowers, the baskets overflowing with equally overwhelming flowers, before his gaze settles on me.
For a moment, I think he is Frank. I blink, and force that memory deep back down where it has been all these years.
"Welcome!" I say in the cheery tone I use for every other customer. "Is there something specific you are looking for?"
He gives me a strange look, and cocks his head to the side ever so slightly. Like Frank.
"I am," He says simply. His voice sounds rusty, like the sign hanging outside over the doorway. As if he hasn't used his voice for a long, long time.
"Haha, I don't get such certain answers often. What kind of flower do you need?" I put down my sandwich, swallow the last bite-full, and pat my apron down habitually, while I walk towards my customer.
"I'm not sure what I want exactly, but I know what message I want conveyed through the flowers." He looks at me quizzically. I ignore his look and nod, still smiling.
"I have a friend, who I haven't seen in years," he continues. "She's quite special to me—kept me alive when her crowd took over the reservation I was living in. Gave me cups of ice on hot summer days."
I blink, my smile fades. His brown eyes, unreadable, do not change.
"She hasn't written me since the last time we met, but I managed to track her down. I'm going to visit her later on today, but I can't go empty-handed. So what I'm looking for," he says, inclining his head towards me, "is a bouquet of flowers that means 'love', 'remembrance', or 'nostalgia'. Preferably all three."
Numbly, I turn away from him to gather the flowers I need, my mind spinning. Frank. I only have a shred of doubt that it is not him. My heart pounds as my hands flutter about uselessly, and I feel his gaze on my back.
I turn back around to study him. The longer I stare, the more I recognize of him. His red scarf tied to his belt loop, his cropped hair, his broad shoulders, his heartbreaking smile emerging just now—yes. It is him.
But I can't be sure.
"So you say this woman lives around here?" I ask nonchalantly as I turn back to the flowers. I know he is still smiling. White begonias bordered with pink for 'love.'
"Yes," He replies.
Periwinkle for 'nostalgia', and lavender statice for 'remembrance'. "I may know her. I've been around here for about six years now. What is her name?"
"Her name is Sumiko Matsuda, but I call her Weedflower."
The flowers in my hands drop to the ground as I turn slowly.
"You still remember," I whisper.
"I do," he whispers, equally quietly.
Our last embrace had been tight and rushed, and I had left him in the midst of a sandstorm, screaming at him to hurry and run while he watched my bus disappear into swirls of grit.
This embrace is different. It is slow and quiet and natural. He smells like he did before—like the wood he said he chopped for his family, like the dirt he held down with his feet when he ran, like the ice I used to save for him on those unbearable summer days.
He is back. Frank is back. And this is how it feels like:
1. Like when I first started my flower shop.
2. Like the first time I tasted something sweet.
3. Like the peace I feel will last forever.
A/N: So much fun to write this, and even more fun to read the book. So go read it if you haven't yet! :D
R&R please and thank you