I started this class because I wanted to work on my writing skills. I am not great when it comes to writing plot, but I am expected to write at my university. Therefore, I decided that maybe character-driven stories were something for me. I still feel like there is a lot missing in this story. Still feel like nothing really happens and maybe I should have explored the emotional change from the beginning to the end a bit more. Also, there may not be enough information in the story. But hopefully, it's good. Or at least will help me get better, as any practice should. I was inspired by the attitude of the #1 comment, but then took the character and she transformed into something entirely else. I did the profile but I don't want to post it as it provides information about the character that a normal reader wouldn't get, and if anyone leaves feedback on this - I want them to make the opinion about the character themselves and see how they interpret them. Hopefully, they're not as flat as I think they are. Sorry for the negativity, I'm very self-conscious and I think that's the first work I leave online, for others to read. Anyway, here it goes.
The streets were finally clean. After months of snow and mud, finally a moment of rest. No floor to wipe after customers who raided shops with their muddy boots. No one to wipe it. The sign hanging by the window said ‘Closed’ despite the lights being on, illuminating the open, clean space of the flower shop and one dark silhouette against the colourful walls of flowers.
Cara’s hands were almost numb from the thorny stems of roses she carefully braided into a wicker wreath hoop. She was here for hours, the workspace slowly more and more littered with stems and leaves that were cut off. Hours but still nowhere near being done. She put the wreath aside as she spotted a dot of blood appearing on her finger. She should have cut off the thorns but she just wanted to finish and go back to the comfortable, hotel room she booked nearby.
She stood up and took a small brush to wipe the stems from the tabletop. She hated the familiar feeling of the wooden brush in her hand. She hated the familiar scent of freshly cut flowers. But despite whatever she thought… it was calming.
The sound of the door opening and the little bell above them, surprised her, still holding up the bin where she brushed off the dirt.
‘Sorry I’m late.’ The lively click of heels accompanied her sister everywhere. She watched her smile and throw her coat on the hanger.
‘You didn’t have to come.’ Cara put down the bin and sat back in front of the half-finished wreath. The answer was light-hearted, with a shrug.
‘I wanted to.’
Her sister picked some flowers from around the room and sat on the opposite side of the worktable. Cara wouldn’t admit it but she was grateful. Her fingers slowly returned to weaving the wreath, in a rhythmic manner.
‘How are the kids?’
‘Good. Mark just had his first game in school. He and John trained for weeks after school, he was so excited. John could barely speak after cheering for him so hard…’
‘Sounds fun.’ She sounded tired. Just tired. That type of tired when you can’t be jealous of someone else’s happiness but you’re tired of the lack of your own. That tired when you slowly drown but can’t catch the slippery rope someone's throwing you and your muscles just give up. She was happy for her sister. She loved her. But listening to this right now felt like salt on an open wound.
‘Yeah. It was.’ Her sister didn’t lose her cheerful tone, despite, or maybe because of, knowing her so well, knowing not to continue. ‘And how are you?’
Another sensitive topic. But good is enough.
They sat in silence for a moment. Cara struggling with the roses she still didn’t clean, her sister arranging some white flowers. It reminded her of her youth. The summer days in the flower shop where they helped, with hot, city air pouring through the open door. But now loss, stifled happiness, and regret hung in the air.
‘I have to re-do it.’ She looked at the flowers. Her mother wouldn’t be happy. The colours were spaced unevenly and the leaves looked like a mess.
‘Is mine okay?’ Some of e white flowers were already stuck in the white foam ring. They were easier to make than the wicker ones but looked fine only on one side.
Mom hated those.
‘Yeah, looks great.’ She may torture herself, not her sister. She looked at her rosy wreath again. She was done, not worth re-doing. It was pretty enough.
She put it aside and stood up to gather some more flowers from the various vases spread across the room, their colours popping in front of the white walls. Biting her lip again and again, she looked through them. Her fingers landed on blue ones. ‘God, there’s so many left. By the time we’re done, they may die anyway.’
She laughed a little. Her sister smiled again.
‘To be honest, you could have just thrown them out.’ she suggested.
‘You know I couldn’t.’
‘Why?’ She exaggerated the ‘y’ in a playful, desperate manner. ‘You hate them.’
‘Don’t you?’ Cara looked at her confused, a smile still lingering on her lips, hoping to maintain the positive atmosphere.
‘They’re just flowers, Cara.’
She should have just said “I guess.” as she usually does. But there were so many emotions squeezed in this small flower shop. So many thoughts. So many memories. And she just couldn’t bear it anymore.
‘Flowers, which she cared for more than us. More than me.’ She looked at her sister with a bewildered look. That was their past. They shared it, and yet seemingly understood it so differently. ‘I’m not going to throw them out. I’m going to finish and then I’m going to lay them across the city in the grand dramatic gesture that she always wanted. Making the world more beautiful or whatever. Her fucking legacy. I won’t let her be the bigger person. She asked me to do this. And I will because if I don’t I just prove, once and for all, that she is the charitable one and I am the obstacle.’
There were tears slowly filling her eyes. She couldn’t see. But she didn’t want to blink, not to let them fall. Crying was not something she did easily. But one of the tears just fell down, whether she wanted it or not. She was losing control. She turned around, wiped the tears, quickly, with her hand. Her sister didn’t move. She just heard her words from behind her.
‘Are you doing this to prove her wrong or to say ‘I love you’?’
Well, she took it a step too far this time.
That’s how it always works. They want to pick her apart, see what’s inside. But what’s inside her is ugly. And it hurts. So she pushes them away. All of them.
‘You have to let go.’ Her sister continued, like hammering a nail, hoping she will get something through the barrier. Fix her. But surely, there was nothing to fix. She was fine. Just fine.
‘I don’t have to do shit.’
That was enough. She had no right to lecture her. ‘Maybe you were young enough to forget and forgive. I wasn’t. I spent fifteen more years with her. Makes you really remember.’
The tears just kept coming and kept coming and Cara only prayed for her voice not to break. And then another stupid question.
‘But you love her?’
‘Of course, I do. She was my mother.’
‘You can’t love someone and hate them at the same time.’
‘Let me be a living example then.’ she snarled, like a dog, warning not to come closer. This conversation should have ended minutes ago.
But it was true. She loved her mother. And she hated her almost as fiercely as she loved her. It was like holding a knife and she just wouldn’t let go. It cut and it cut, and she would just come for more until she had no blood left in her and she let go. And now, it was too late to come back.
She left to the small sink in the back. Washed her face. Cried. Washed it again. She wanted to fall apart, she wanted to go back to her room in the hotel and weep until she couldn’t breathe. But not in front of her sister. And not now. She forced herself to breathe slowly. Counted. Recalled every anxiety attack tip she read. It wasn’t anxiety but it helped. She calmed down, felt the headache start to throb slowly under her skull. Wiped her face one last time and went back. Her sister sat at the worktop, playing with flowers in her hands. She hopped off when she saw her.
‘Sorry. I shouldn’t have, we just never talked a…’
‘No, it’s fine. I shouldn’t have lashed out at you.’ A family flaw. She sat in the chair next to her sister. Didn’t look up. Couldn’t look her in the eyes. ‘I miss her.’
The tears appeared on her cheeks again. But it wasn’t hectic and panicked this time. It was slow. Calm. Regretful. Rain sprinkling after a storm. She felt two warm arms wrap around her.
‘I know you do.’
They both did.
‘I love her.’
Saying it wasn’t easy. She rarely told it to her mother at all. And now it was too late.
‘She knew.’ There was a comfort to be found in her sister’s voice. A comfort she would not let herself feel for so long. And although it was her that left, it was her that did not want to go back, her sister still invited her back. ‘Let’s go home.’