I'm sorry for the delay in posting part two. I have too many irons in the fire this week.
Charity's Shadow Part II
The next morning, Edna and Ben busied themselves cutting stems and trimming leaves from their early morning deliveries. While Ben filled balloons with helium, Edna prepared several vases for their mid-morning deliveries to the hospital down the street. Soon, their first hour of work was complete, and Ben gathered the cuttings and stuffed them into a trash bag. He glanced at his watch—if he hurried, he could still watch her walk down the street.
Edna, sensing that eight o'clock was drawing nigh, announced to Ben that she was going to sweep the walk. She didn’t realize that Ben had already dashed through the back door and was making his way to the dumpster in the alley, trying to get to the corner before Charity made the turn.
When Charity approached the flower shop, she started to greet Edna as usual, but she was quickly ushered into the shop with a warning, “You need to hurry, or you’ll run out of time. Quickly, child. Now, take your time and smell the rose--and hurry up!”
Somewhat disoriented, Charity found herself shoved through the door and standing in the small shop, which was empty of people, save her. Uncertain of what was happening, she stood for a moment, glanced through the store, and then exited the building with a shrug. Edna, alarmed at her sudden re-emergence, quickly scolded her. “What are you doing out here? I sent you inside the store to smell the flowers.”
Charity stared at her blankly. “Edna? Are you alright?”
“Heavens to Betsy, I’m okay. Why are you here?”
Concerned, she replied, “Edna? It’s me, Charity. Are you well?”
“Never mind that, child. Why aren’t you in the store? It’s costing me twelve dollars an hour, and I want you to smell the roses.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Oh, dear. Didn’t you like him?”
“Ben, that’s who. What’s wrong with him?”
“No, not Ben Hur. Ben, the boy.”
Charity’s concern for Edna was increasing each second. “No, Edna. I’ve never been a boy. What’s wrong? You look flushed.”
“Charity! I want you to go into the store and meet Ben.”
“But I was in the store. There’s no one else in there.” She gazed into Edna’s eyes. “Are you certain you’re okay? Have you been sleeping well?”
“Balderdash! I’m fine. What do you mean that no one’s in the store?”
“Just that, Edna. No one’s in there. It’s just the two of us. Maybe you should let me walk you to the hospital.”
“Never mind the hospital.” She grabbed her by the shoulders. “Come with me, there’s someone I want you to meet.”
“Okay.” She surrendered to Edna’s pulling arms and followed her into the store, where she was wandering through the room calling, “Ben? Ben?”
Charity was getting scared. “Edna? Who is Ben?”
“The boy who works here. I want you to meet him.”
“There’s no boy here. It’s just you and me.” She caught Edna’s frantic eyes. “Let me walk you to the hospital. It’s only just down the street.”
“I need no doctors. I need to find Ben.”
Charity glanced at her watch. “Oh, look at the time. I have to run. Are you certain you’re okay?”
“I’m fine. Perhaps I’ll see you tomorrow?”
“I promise to check on you in the morning. I must hurry.” With that, she turned and trotted from the store and down the street. Ben, standing on the corner as Charity rushed past, disappointingly realizes that she’s gone. Dejected, he returns to the store, only to find Edna distraught.
“Where have you been?”
“I took the clippings to the dumpster.”
“Why on Earth would you do that?”
He glanced at the open door and the street beyond. “Are you asking me why would I take out the trash?”
Crestfallen, Edna collapses into a chair and hangs her head in her hands. “The best laid plans of mice and men…”
“I beg your pardon?”
She looked at him and smiled. “And you have such good manners, too. But it won’t mean anything if I can’t get you to meet, will it?”
“I don’t follow you, Edna.”
She sighed deeply. “I wanted to introduce you to a young lady I know. She’s so sweet, and she comes by here every morning. She’s very pretty, and has a lovely smile. But, for some reason, she hasn’t found love.” She smiled to herself. “I wanted her to meet you. You seem like a perfect match.”
Ben was red around his ears. “I don’t know what to say.”
“Tell me that you’ll meet her tomorrow.”
“Well, to be honest, there’s a girl that I want to meet, but…”
Edna’s face grew soft. “But what?”
“But, she’s just too pretty to meet a guy like me. So, I just watch her walk by, not even knowing her name.”
She smiled. “Ah. Well, now I think we can solve this problem. I want you to be here bright and early in the morning. Try to be here as close to seven as you can be. This young lady comes by every morning, but only stays a moment. She’s the sweetest thing, and I know you’ll just love her. Won’t you try to be here on time?”
“I’ll be here. I promise,” he said, shyly.
To be continued....