He emptied her pockets, searching for a handkerchief, a lipstick, a hair band. Anything she had handled. Anything he could carry that would transmit her fragrance, her person. He found nothing. For all the times she’d shoved her hands in the jacket’s warm pouches, her face sad as the wind blew her hair into her eyelashes, for all those silent walks on cold days, there was nothing there.
He turned to the jacket’s lining. It was a pewter color. Silky. He imagined it against her skin. Imagined her slipping bare arms into it on a day warm enough for short sleeves in the afternoon, but cool enough for a jacket in the evening. Her soft brown hairs soft against the silvery smooth lining.
There was one more pocket. Its lip was piped with a strip of fuschia that reminded him of cyclamen. The pink piping was the only color on the garment, and it was hidden away inside. Only she knew its vibrance was there.
He reached into the slim pocket with his first first two fingers and touched paper. The paper was smooth and folded, and it fit snugly in the pink lipped pouch. He slipped his fingers on either side of it, pinched, and pulled it out. He unfolded it.
It was a receipt for flowers. $138. Not a small sum. $138 for peonies: her favorite. The date was from four months ago. It would have been spring. Just the right time for peonies.
Peonies he did not purchase. Peonies he had never seen. So many things he did not see in those months. He held the receipt against his lips and inhaled its papery scent, hoping he might smell flowers. Unlike others who have no regrets, who love their lives and do not grieve a single choice, even poor ones because those bad choices led them to this perfect moment — unlike those people, his regret was a stone in his throat.
Photo credit: Peony by Yoko Nekonomania
For the month of April, I will be publishing a 10-minute free write each day, initiated by a prompt from my prompt box. Minimal editing. No story. Just thoughts spilling onto the page. This is the first fiction that happened. Thank you to Jay E for the prompt, “A receipt for flowers.”