Giovanni was a master of floriography. In his hands, flowers became living creatures that shimmered with vitality. His arrangements were works of art, causing people to cry sweet tears of happiness. Flowers were his passion. He had been arranging them since he was just a little ragazzo watching his papa. From father to son, mother to daughter, the love of creation was passed to each new generation. When he left Italy, his momma cried because she worried Giovanni wouldn’t keep the customs alive in America. Although he was leaving the country of his family, the new world called to him. In his heart, he knew that he would continue the family traditions.
He’d started selling flowers on the street, calling out to sweethearts to prove their love with a red rose. Once upon a time, he had a sweetheart of his own. When he left Italy, she did not want to go. Her roots to their homeland ran deep. Although it broke his heart, the urge to leave was too strong. Saying goodbye to his sweet Giulia was the hardest thing he’d ever done.
After a time, he bought a small stand. People gathered around until all of his petals had disappeared. His reputation was spreading and the money was enough to buy a small shop. He called it Mi Amore. That was forty years ago.
The door of his shop opened with a jangle as a young girl entered. Her long hair was in tangles about her shoulders and she so was thin Giovanni thought she must be hungry. His first instinct was to feed her some pasta, but girls these days were so odd. They thought being a little twig was beautiful.
“Good afternoon! How can I help you?” Giovanni’s voice rang out, his smile engaging.
The girl flinched nervously. She stood there, her hands hooked in her belt, as though she would prevent them wanting to roam.
“I heard you might be hiring.” The girl had a musical voice that pleased him. Customers would be enchanted and buy more flowers than from an old man. He wondered if she had any sense of the flowers or how to display them.
“Come, my name is Giovanni. You are?”
“My name is Bella.”
“Ah, a good Italian name! Show me what you can do with this.” He handed her an order sheet.
She read the requirements and looked around the shop. All of the flowers were on display with materials behind the back counter. Biting her lip, she gathered the stems needed and began working.
When she was done, Giovanni surveyed her work.
“You’ve done this before. Where did you learn how to do this?” he asked.
Bella’s face reddened and she looked down at her feet. Her shoes were tattered and he wasn’t sure if it was because they were old or just the style.
“My grandmother.” She answered.
“Your grandmother has a good eye and now so do you. You’re hired.” Giovanni held his hand out to shake and Bella smiled. The expression lit up her face and he felt a sense of familiarity. He shrugged it off and the two of them worked side by side. There were many orders to complete and Giovanni found joy in sharing his love of the work with this young girl. She reminded him of the beautiful girl he’d left behind so long ago.
The bell above the door rang as someone entered. Although he didn’t look up right away, Giovanni smelled a perfume he’d never forgotten. It was jasmine and rose. Her cheeks were glowing with a faint blush and her lips curved into a hesitant smile. His heart remembered her in an instant, the woman he’d never forgotten. Tears sprang to his eyes as they stared at one another.
Bella cleared her throat.“I’d like to introduce you to my grandmother, Giulia de Mancini.”
Giovanni didn’t need introductions. In his dreams, he’d known this woman forever; the woman who had always held his heart.
They moved together, embracing for the first time in forty years as Bella went back to work on the arrangements, a knowing smile playing upon her lips.
This story was written for the weekly YeahWrite Fiction/Poetry contest. The prompts for this week were florist and the phrase “She stood there, her hands hooked in her belt, as though she would prevent them wanting to roam.” If you’re interested in reading other entries, click the link above and vote for your favorites!