Free Short Story: What I Meant to Say by Marianne Arkins

The bell rang over the door, only five minutes until closing. Before the sound had faded a man’s voice cried, “I have an emergency!”

Di stopped putting the cut flowers into the cooler and looked at him, puzzled. “You do realize this is a flower shop, right? Not the hospital.”

He dragged a hand through his already messy brown hair and then waved it about impatiently. “Of course. But it’s my mother’s birthday tomorrow. She lives in Nevada. What do I do?”

Di couldn’t help but smile at him. He was tall, lanky and completely disheveled. “You tell me what kind of message you want to send her.”

“Message? I don’t want to send a message, I want to send flowers, you know, lilies or roses or something. She likes yellow ones.” He looked around the shop, a wild look in his eyes. One finger jabbed at some flowers. “And those.”

Di only shook her head. She laid a hand on his shoulder and directed him to the front counter. “Yellow roses are for friendship, and that lily you just pointed at? Means ‘I burn for you’, which is probably not a message you’d send to your mother.”

He frowned and shook his head. “She won’t know that, so what does it matter? It’s pretty.”

“She won’t, but I will. And so will you once I’m done.” She pulled out a notebook and opened it in front of him. “Now, tell me how you feel about your mother.”

And when his face softened and his lips turned up into a slight smile, Di’s heart gave a squeeze. Nothing was sweeter in this world than a man who loved his mama.


She thought about him often over the next seven days, Mr. Seth Armstrong who loved his mother. She wondered how his mother liked her specially chosen bouquet, hoped the florist in Nevada had included the sheets she’d emailed to include with the gift.

She thought about the stories Seth told her about his mom, the things she’d done for him and his brothers, the cookies, the discipline, the love. She sounded like an amazing woman, and seemed to have raised a pretty incredible man.

She was just finishing a bouquet for an engagement dinner, and slipped in a sprig with lemon blossoms, ‘faithful love’, to set off the rest of the flowers. A moment later the bell rang and she pasted on a smile then turned to face her latest customer.

“Seth.” She blurted out his name without thinking and wondered if her thoughts of him showed on her face. “Another emergency?”

He grinned. “Sister. She’s pregnant with twins and worried. Her husband is deployed overseas. I just want to let her know I’m thinking of her, but couldn’t bring myself to send flowers like usual since I might end up saying something like, ‘I wish you were dead’ or ‘you’re one hot mama’. You’ve ruined my ability to order flowers online.”

“Best news I’ve had all day.” She laughed and pulled out her notepad again. “Tell me about your sister.”

He did. He talked about how he made her the scapegoat of all their adventures as children, how he scared off most of her boyfriends until the man she married wouldn’t be intimidated. He mentioned how frustrated he was that they lived so far apart and how much he missed her.

Seth Armstrong truly wore his heart on his sleeve.

“I know just the bouquet.” She scribbled a few more notes and then looked up at the man leaning on her counter. He wasn’t handsome, not really, but certainly not repulsive either. The kind of guy you really didn’t notice until something he said or did lit him up. His smile was magnetic, his warm brown eyes glowed whenever he talked about his family and he was funny and clever.

Di was well and truly enamored of the man. Too bad he didn’t seem to see her as anything but the flower lady. Her own fault, really. She was no good with conversations unless they were about vegetation and flowers, had never learned to flirt, didn’t bother with make-up and couldn’t see the point in a hair-stylist when all she did was French braid her hair every morning to keep it out the way when she worked.

She imagined that she was much like Seth: unremarkable unless she became passionate about something.

He came in a few more times during the month. Flowers for his assistant, or an elderly neighbor whose 16-year-old poodle had passed, or his niece’s first ballet recital. He shared small details about each person, things most folks likely wouldn’t have noticed: the way they smiled or the perfume they wore or their favorite color. He was incredibly sweet and remarkably observant, except when it came to noticing the crush she was fast developing on him.

When one of the cialis online cheapest seven chakras is blocked, the cooling would not be proper. The drugs best price on levitra are available at affordable prices and fast delivery is ensured. discount cialis Presently, it is being utilized as the prime remedy to take care of erectile dysfunction or ED is a physical change and not a disease as most men consider it to be. His unique ability to age actors is spell binding and so is his talent levitra prices for sculptured prosthetics. Tonight, Friday, Di was determined to get a real life instead of living in her head. She headed for the front door to lock up, and then she’d call her newly single neighbor about having a girl’s night out somewhere. Just as she slid the deadbolt into place, Seth’s face popped up in the window. He folded his hands into a prayer, clearly pleading to be let in.

How could she possibly resist?

“Thank you!” He dashed inside and grinned. “As always, I’m in desperate need of your help.”

“Who’s it for this time?” Di asked, moving to her counter and picking up the notepad to write down details of this latest lucky lady.

Seth’s cheeks colored a bit and he ducked his head. “Well, there’s this woman I’ve been thinking about for awhile now, and I figured I just needed to bite the bullet and ask her out. You’re so good with flowers, I knew you’d be able to find the perfect assortment to tell her I’d like to get to know her better.”

Di’s heart dropped. The pen in her hand trembled a bit, but she forced a smile on her face and asked, “What’s she like?”

His eyes lost focus and his lips turned up into a hesitant smile. “She’s amazing. Quiet but sweet and friendly and caring. Smart but not conceited or snarky. Kind to everyone including goofy forgetful men like me. Both unremarkable as well as unbelievably amazing. I can’t stop thinking about her.”

Di murmured ideas, writing them down on the pad in front of her. Once she’d brainstormed a bit, she’d see what she had on hand, and which of her ideas would mesh the best together.

“Maybe blue salvia for ‘thinking of you’, a single red rose for the romance, a few daffodils for ‘new beginnings’, jasmine for its amazing smell and for ‘sweet love’ which is a great first date sentiment…” she wandered away into the cooler still muttering to herself. A moment later, she poked out her head. “I’ll just be a minute. This is going to be gorgeous!”

Seth gave her a thumbs up and rested a hip against the counter.

Fighting back a growing bit of jealousy and sadness, Di determined to make the most stunning bouquet she’d ever done. Once done, she stepped back to look at it, pleased with the result. She scooped it up and headed back out to the front sales area.

She handed him the flowers with a wobbly smile. “Here you go…any girl should be thrilled to get this. I’ll just ring it up.” She took his credit card and processed the payment quickly, ready to be done with this awful moment. She handed him his receipt. “Thanks, as always. You’re becoming my best customer.”

“Glad to hear it. I’m also glad you let me barge in after closing time. I mean, it’s Friday after all. You probably have a hot date.”

She scrunched her nose. “Possible girl’s night out is all.” She rounded the counter to let him out. “I hope she appreciates the thought you put into those.”

“I hope so, too.” He smiled a little, took a step toward the door and then pivoted to face her. There was the slightest pause before he stuck his hand out toward her. The one holding the flowers. “Do you?”

“Do I what?”

“Appreciate them?”

Di stared mutely at the flowers and then up at him and back to the flowers. “For me?”

He grinned. “For you. It’s you who’s kind and smart and funny. It’s you I can’t stop thinking about. It’s you who I keep making excuses to come see. You who I want to spend this Friday with. And next Friday. And the next.”

The smile on my face stretched so wide my cheeks ached. I reached for the bouquet, my hand resting on his. I squeezed and said, “Yes, I appreciate them.”

Marianne is originally from California but currently living in much colder New Hampshire with her husband, daughter, dogs and cat as well as a few hundred wild birds, chipmunks and a backyard bear that keeps trying to grab the feeders.

She can’t imagine a world without romance or not having stories rattling around in her brain. There are nights when she dreams a complete story, and watches it acted out in her head. Those are the times she wakes up and grabs for a notepad to jot down the important parts – without turning on the light – and hopes it’s coherent in the morning.

Website | Blog | Facebook

Want to have your story published here? Click here for information on what we’re looking for, the payment schedule and instructions how to submit.


  1. Oh, I enjoyed this! What a lovely way to start a weekend.

  2. Sweet and romantic. Yet somehow the story creates that little niggle in your stomach hoping things will work out the way you want them to. Well written and fun.

  3. Lovely!

  4. Mary Attenborough says

    Such a cute short story!

  5. This was adorable. 🙂

  6. What a lovely story, people don’t always know or think of the actual meaning of flowers. I really enjoyed this!

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.