Running his flower shop was usually one of Saffron’s favorite parts of the day. The butterflies and bees enchanted by his plants kept him company, fluttering around excitedly. The soft scent of lavender and rosemary kept him at ease as he spoke with customers. The customers themselves were a type of entertainment for him. Saffron loved to hear their stories about what they needed flowers for. He’d seen plenty of lovesick young men, mourning old women, and small children who just wanted some fruit as a snack. And whenever he closed it for the night, Saffron always had the feeling of fulfillment. He had found something that he loved doing and that something made others happy.
But today was not one of those times.
Today, Saffron was considering quitting his job.
The day started off bad when he discovered he had a cough. Saffron tried drinking some tea, hoping it would soothe his throat but the cough seemed to continue to worsen. His mother, a kind but stern woman named Anne Rosenberry, told him to stay at home resting but he refused. The shop had been very busy the past few days and there was no doubt that today would be bustling with customers as well.
Saffron attempted to battle through the day, speaking softly to not strain his voice. But as the day went on, Saffron’s illness became more and more unmanageable, adding headaches and dizziness to a growing list of symptoms.
“I’ll be fine.” He thought to himself. “It’s just a cold. I’ll close shop a little earlier if I need to.”
As much as he told himself that, Saffron didn’t want to close early. He loved seeing his customers.
Well, perhaps not all of his customers.
“Ma’am, for the last time,” Saffron said with a sigh, “I cannot give you a refund.”
“My flowers are dead!” The woman said, raising her voice. “I’m supposed to be decorating a birthday celebration! Tell me, how can I do that with dead flowers?”
Saffron took a deep breath. “I can see why that would be difficult, ma’am. But, I’m afraid that I already informed you during your purchase that those flowers need to be watered once a day. If you leave them for a week, they will die. There is nothing I can do about that.”
“You said that they could survive without sunlight. Why can’t they survive without water?”
Saffron bit back the urge to say, “I don’t know, maybe you should ask them.”
Instead, he turned around and grabbed a small vial of green liquid. He offered it to the woman who snatched it with her pale, bony hands.
“Empty that onto the leaves and wait a few minutes,” Saffron explained. “The flowers should go back to the way you bought them. But you will still have to water them.”
“Can’t you just give me another vial?”
“The potion can only revive the flowers once.”
The woman furrowed her blonde eyebrows, glaring at the vial as if it killed the flowers. Finally, she tossed her hair over her shoulder and gave an annoyed exhale.
“How much do you want for it?”
“600 gold coins.”
The blonde woman gave a dramatic gasp, putting her hand on her chest.
“ARE YOU INSANE?”
Saffron winced. “Ma’am, please, I have a headache if you could perhaps lower your-”
“YOU GIVE ME DYING FLOWERS-”
“They were very much alive.”
“-AND THEN CHARGE ME,” She pointed to herself, “600 GOLD TO KEEP THEM ALIVE?!”
The vines on the ceiling began to move and writhe like snakes, ready to bite their prey. Saffron clenched his fist and the vines became stationary.
“I can perhaps give you some new flowers-”
“I want a refund.” The woman placed her hands on the countertop, glaring daggers at Saffron with her chestnut eyes. She moved her face inches away from his. The sickening smell of cheap alcohol and tobacco made him dizzy.
“You are the reason,” She said slowly, “why no one likes your kind.”
Saffron’s hands were shaking.
“All you non-human creatures. This is why no one trusts elves! You probably cursed my flowers.”
Saffron stared at her coldly. “Nymph. I’m a nymph.”
“Same difference, isn’t it?”
“No, we’re completely different species-”
The woman cut him off. “The point is you’re a liar. You think that you have us all fooled, don’t you? You’re just a sweet little shopkeeper who just happens to be an elf and wants to help people, right?” She grabbed Saffron by his wrist, digging her sharp nails into his skin.
“Let me go-!” Saffron tried to say. But the woman tightened her grip, making him grimace in pain.
“All you want is money! You’re just a greedy little creature who wants to prey on the innocent because you don’t have anything better to do.”
“Just because that widow, Anna or whatever her name is, adopted you,” she said with a cruel grin, “doesn’t mean a damn thing! You’re still a useless-”
“Let me go!”
“Unlovable piece of-AIEEEEEEEEEE!”
The vines reached down from the ceiling in a blink of an eye and twisted themselves around her arms and ankles. The woman stumbled back then lost her balance and flew face first into the ground. The vines dragged her, kicking and screaming, across the floor towards the door. Saffron opened it and the woman was roughly thrown against the cobblestone walkway.
“My-my dress!” She sputtered, struggling to stand. “You ruined my-!” She froze mid sentence, seeing the look on Saffron’s face.
“Don’t come back,” he said firmly. “Ever.”
The woman gave a short nod and muttered something about getting a different florist then got up and hurried away.
Saffron slammed the door shut and sighed. He rubbed his head, which was throbbing with pain. The vines began receding back to the ceiling as he passed by them. Saffron made his way towards the back of the store, walking past the flowers, fruits, and vegetables before finally stopping at the herbs. He muttered to himself as looked for something to cure his headache. Alas, he found nothing and made his way towards the bathroom door. He observed himself in the mirror.
The short black curls on his head needed the most attention so Saffron grabbed a comb. As he raised his arm to his head, he saw his wrist and froze. Drops of blood trickled from the injuries the woman gave him from digging her nails into his skin. Saffron cleaned the wound and wrapped his wrist in a white bandage. He continued combing his hair, gazing at himself blankly in the mirror. His eyes glowed dimmer than usual and there were dark circles underneath them. Saffron’s dark complexion was slightly redder than usual due to his fever. He splashed himself with a bit of cold water which only cooled him down momentarily.
Saffron lifted his hair slightly to look at his ears. Pointy, but only slightly. “Not nearly as pointy as an elf,” He thought, scowling. “That woman is a fool.”
As Saffron made his way back to the counter, he began to cough. It was light at first but quickly became louder and husky. Saffron coughed into his handkerchief over and over, almost unable to breathe. He finally stopped, taking a deep inhale. He felt so lightheaded that it felt as if the entire room had been spinning. Saffron glanced at the handkerchief and noticed something odd. There were dark red spots all over it.
The room kept spinning.
Saffron laughed weakly. “That can’t be good, can it?” He murmured to himself.
Saffron was unaware that those words would be his last.
Are you enjoying my ongoing story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, Charlie CowellWrite a Review