Sian was always suspicious of a single rose rolled in plastic. When she was last in London, an African man in traditional garb had called her ‘sister’, said he wanted to give her a gift and proceeded to thrust a candy-pink rose in her hand. It was presumably her mixed heritage he was referring to and why he was singling her out . She had stated that she had no money on her and he had been offended that she could possibly doubt his motives. He was extremely insistent that she keep the rose and she was swayed, almost cross with herself for doubting his motives.
As she walked away he followed close behind and said, surely she must have some change to give to a compatriot. She turned to him angrily and slapped the sorry rose on his chest with a grimace. He took back the flower and walked off.
The next time she was approached by a friendly rose-seller, she was in Venice at sunset, but by now she was hardened to the approach. The rose this time was lilac in colour, indicating ‘friend’ and the Indian man pressed it upon her, despite her protestations that she had no cash. Her companion relented and to her dismay, rattled about in his pockets and fished out a few cents. Sian saw the rose-seller’s attention grabbed by the sound of the coins but knew it would not be enough to satisfy him. She pointedly held out the rose to the seller who took it back willingly and left in a business-like manner to the next passing couple.
Sian recalled these incidents as she sat in a modestly-priced restaurant back home in the Midlands, having a meal with a friend, on what just happened to be Valentine’s Day. Her heart had sunk as she entered the restaurant and she spotted a bucket containing a cluster of cellophane-wrapped, single dark-red roses, tucked to one side of the bar. Damned if I am going home with one of those she had thought, and I’m not even out with a lover.
And yet a couple of hours later, here she was, putting a single red rose, still wrapped in cellophane, into a jam jar of water. She didn’t care for the rose but she didn’t have it in her to leave the rose on the kitchen work surface to perish overnight. It had had been pressed upon her by the pleasant waiter who wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. So Sian had left an extra tip and reluctantly left with the unwanted gift held discreetly low like the long leash to a small dog. Flowers wrapped in plastic always made her suspicious and definitely never made her feel good