Under neon lights and a haze-filled sky in which no astral light but the moon’s brilliance is strong enough to shine through – and even then only as an indistinct orb glimpsed through a thick veil – the flower man walks the streets. The city is well known to him; every alley, every chasm in the sidewalk, every half-starved palm tree eking out an existence on long-neglected roadway medians are comforting in their familiarity.
Most who pass him by do not notice him. He wears a non-descript t-shirt, blue jeans, and baseball cap, all three faded with age. His tennis shoes lost their factory-new squeakiness long before he found them in a second-hand shop. Even his physical presence is unassuming, possessed as he is of a slight stature, mild manners, and a measured, unhurried gait. He is in every way unremarkable.
Except for the flowers he carries.
Sometimes they’re roses, sometimes orchids, sometimes sunflowers, tulips, peonies, chrysanthemums – every flower you can think to name, in every shade you can possibly imagine, he has carried it through this city of chrome and asphalt and cold, hard steel. A few at a time he carries them. Never more than a handful at once. He holds them with outstretched arms, his beloved blossoms offered up to the world.
The nights are full of the hustle and hum of those who thrive best after dark, and most of these denizens pass by the flower man with never a second glance in his direction. Some even seem to look right through him, never noticing the gift he freely offers.
And yet…there are those precious few who see him and take the blossoms he gives. Lost souls, most of them. Those who, like him, the wide world in all its furious forward motion tends to leave behind. The ones who are more tired than not. The ones for whom the buildings and the pavement and the monochrome sky all blend together into a monotonous, gray existence. These are the ones who find their way to the flower man and who take his tendered gift: a moment of beauty in rebellion against the endless, carbon-copy days and nights.
And even these poor souls will forget the flower man’s face once he and they go their separate ways…even as they hold his gift to them in their hands…even as the scent of a rose or a peony fills their homes and their senses…
Little do they notice that their weary hearts lighten, and pleasant dreams are easier in coming when they lay down their heads at night – so long as the man’s flower blooms under their roof.
But soon enough the flowers wilt, and peaceful nights reclaim their customary edge, and they forget that they ever met the strange, quiet man with the flowers in his hands.
Yet still he wanders the sea of streets under neon lights and hazy skies, offering his blossoms to those lost or lonely enough to find their way to him – to those in most dire need of the calm that a simple flower can bring in a hard, desperate world.