Jodie stared down at the small card which lay on the floor in the hallway. She could see a drawing of pink flowers with handwriting beside it. The handwriting was too small to read, unless Jodie picked up the card, which she was too nervous to do.
It was a Friday and it was Valentine’s Day, but flowers were the last thing Jodie had ever expected. Closing the front door behind her, she placed her bag on the bottom step of the stair, and after taking a deep breath, finally picked up the card.
It had been a tough week. On Monday she got the news that her Nan was poorly in Dublin, very poorly. No, no, there’s no need to travel over, her Mum said, not with the snow and the storms, stay in Manchester now, you’ll be busy enough with work. But, I’d like to – Jodie tried to say. No, not at all, there’s no need to bother, her Mum insisted. There was never any need to bother about anything.
On Tuesday morning, as she was walking to work, Jodie’s mobile rang. Her Dad began, are you on your own? Just a wee bit of sad news for you, he said. No, no, your mother says there’s no need to bother coming over for the funeral, you’ll be busy enough at work.
Were you close? Jodie’s boss asked, straining to convey a tone of concern. Well, sort of – Jodie began. We’re very stuck in the dispensary this afternoon, hang in there today and if you need tomorrow off we’ll check the rota, okay?
Jodie’s eyes darted across the card from the florist, searching for a name or a clue about who the sender may be. All she could read was, “We’re sorry we missed you – we have put your flowers in the shed in the garden”. Still wearing her coat and shoes she walked through the kitchen and opened the back door, her hands were shaking slightly. Oh, for Gods sake, she said to herself, get a grip. Jodie took a moment, taking care not to slip on the slushy snow. As she tiptoed to the shed she had a thought, maybe they’re from Michael?
Jodie’s sister had told her to relax, it wasn’t a date, it was only an introduction. Whatever it was, it still turned Jodie into a nervous wreck, introduction or otherwise. She thought the date went well, but when she had not heard from Michael after a week, she knew what the score was, zero to Jodie. A week later she saw him at the cinema with an attractive strawberry-blond. Jodie slid down her seat, trying her best to hide.
She opened the shed door and saw a large bouquet of flowers waiting for her. Jodie read the card again, this time reading the card slowly, ‘Dear Sue Winters…we’re sorry we missed you…’
Sue Winters? I’m not Sue Winters, Jodie thought to herself. She thought again, no, I’m definitely not Sue Winters. And, then it all made sense to her. In her haste to discover who the flowers were from, Jodie had failed to notice who the flowers were for. Rolling her eyes skyward Jodie whispered, ‘Shit’.
The possibility of having a secret admirer had made her completely forget why, after much negotiating with her boss, she had returned home an hour earlier from work that day. Her Nan’s funeral would be streamed live from the chapel web-cam in Dublin and she had missed the first ten minutes of the service. You can light a candle and watch us, you can watch the funeral live, her Mum had said. Remember to blow out the candle before you go to bed, be careful now.
Jodie wasn’t entirely comfortable with watching a funeral online. On the other hand, she wouldn’t have felt right if she didn’t at least try to watch it either. It took awhile to log-on to the website but soon she saw the picture of her Nan’s coffin resting next to the altar. This is really strange, Jodie thought. She didn’t feel sad, it was too odd, too distant to seem real. She could see the back of her Mum’s head, she’d had her hair done. The priest was talking but the sound was muffled. They began the Hail Mary. Hail Mary full of gr…the screen froze. Jodie waited a few moments until it started again. Holy Mary Mo…the screen froze again.
As she waited Jodie looked at the flowers for Sue Winters. It crossed her mind to keep the flowers, it was the florist’s mistake, tough luck Sue Winters. However, Jodie knew she could never do that. For a start she couldn’t enjoy the flowers knowing they were intended for someone else and she thought, knowing her luck, that Sue Winters would appear on the doorstep shouting, what have you done with my flowers eh?
Today we say goodbye to Sarah, a gr…the screen froze again. This was going to be a long evening, Jodie sighed. Hello, I think you’ve delivered flowers to the wrong address. I live at 155 but I’m not Sue Winters. Yes, I’m sure. Well, I’m…I may be out later so you’ll need to be here before seven. Jodie snapped her mobile phone shut. Honestly, Jodie thought. The delivery driver assumed Jodie would be in later on a Friday evening, on Valentine’s Day, with no plans other than to wait for him to collect flowers that were not for her. What annoyed Jodie more was that he had assumed correctly.
Jodie caught five-seconds of a hymn before the screen froze again. She wondered what her Nan would think of the funeral being transmitted worldwide on the internet. No doubt she would be sitting by the fire with her arms tightly folded, shaking her head, tutting what on Gods earth they would come up with next? How could you receive holy communion through the screen? Sure, thats not going to mass, too much sex and drink and divorce, thats whats wrong with them, she’d say. Jodie loved her Nan but every conversation came back to the evils of sex and drink and divorce, every conversation. Have you a boyfriend yet? Jodie remembered her Nan asking her every summer holiday. Even if Jodie went out for the evening, or to the shops, or to the cinema, she would be quizzed on her return. Well, did you meet anyone? No pressure, Jodie would think to herself. She was very tempted once to say she thought the priest at mass on Sunday was quite attractive but thought better of it. Her Nan stopped asking about any potential husband when Jodie reached the grand old age of twenty-two. Ah well, she’d say, no-one seems to want to bother with you, you don’t know them ‘till you have them, sure you’re better off on your own.
Jodie’s phone rang. The delivery driver explained he was flat out delivering flowers, the snow that afternoon hadn’t helped, was there any chance Jodie could take the flowers to the correct house, it was just around the corner at number 165. Jodie was silenced. A voice inside spoke to her; you are a grown-up, this is not the end of the world, of course you can help this stressed-out delivery driver, it’s really not a problem. Jodie explained she could not take the flowers to number 165 straight away, she was in the middle of an important ‘call’, but would deliver them later. She was not going to say she was in on her own, on a Friday evening, on Valentine’s Day, trying to follow a funeral online. She had some pride left. Some.
Our Father who ar … the screen froze again. Jodie huffed as she put on her coat, having decided to deliver the flowers to number 165 without waiting for the ‘call’ to finish. Sue’s boyfriend or girlfriend, whoever sent the flowers, may be wondering where the flowers were, it may even cause an argument, now that would be a such a shame, Jodie thought as she wrapped her scarf roughly around her neck and pulled on a woolly hat.
It was tricky to march over an icy pavement while carrying a bouquet of flowers. Jodie muttered to herself that she better not slip and break something, that would be the perfect end to a perfect evening. If this was a Hollywood movie, Jodie thought, she would slip and break her leg and then the handsome doctor treating her would offer to take her out for dinner and wouldn’t that be a great story to tell the grandkids? Something knocked Jodie hard on the side of the head breaking her from the daydream. Hey love, those flowers for me love? A group of teenagers circled nearby on their bikes. One of them had another snowball rolled up ready to fire at her. She ignored them, keeping her head down as she tried to walk a bit faster, while waiting for the next hit.
Arriving at number 165 Jodie knocked on the door which was opened by someone Jodie was not expecting to see. The attractive strawberry-blond stood there looking very unimpressed. I’ve been waiting all day for these – you’re late, she said, I was just about to call the florist, you need to sort out your deliveries. Jodie attempted to explain, I’m not from the florist, I’m – . The woman grabbed the flowers from Jodie, I was expecting something bigger, and they’re the wrong colour. Jodie paused and smiled, we’ll be happy to send more flowers if you’re not satisfied with these ones, so sorry to be so terribly late. The door slammed shut. Jodie smiled to herself as she walked towards the front gate. Nan was right she thought, you don’t know them ‘till you have them.
Turning the corner she saw Michael locking his car while trying to carry what looked like a large box of chocolates and a bottle of wine plus a present expertly wrapped with a red bow. He hesitated when he saw Jodie, almost dropping everything he was struggling to carry. He sheepishly mumbled he was sorry he hadn’t returned her call. Don’t worry, Jodie said, you really do have your hands full, good luck.
Walking up the path to her house Jodie noticed something she hadn’t seen before in the five years she had lived there; in a small flowerbed, beneath the bay window, a cluster of snowdrops had appeared, their delicate white petals hanging from tall elegant stems, the perfect arched silhouette, nature’s own classic design.
Did you manage to watch it? Did my hair look okay? Jodie’s Mum asked. They cut it too short again at the back and I asked them not to blow-dry it too straight. The connection wasn’t great, Jodie explained, but I tried to watch as much as I could. Guess what Mum? Someone sent me some flowers today. You’re joking, who bothers with that sort of thing? What flowers were they? Who were they from? Snowdrops Mum, they’re snowdrops. I don’t know who they’re from, but they’re perfect, and they were just for me.