The bell to the coffee shop's door rang as the first customer of the day walked in. My flowers were in bloom, soaking in the sunshine from the sunrise. The marble countertop carried the weight of the register, tip jar, and a vase of bluebells. The mouth-watering smell of red bean paste buns wafted through the air. A man came up to the counter, his shoes clicking on the dark cherrywood floors.
I have never seen him before. I know all of my customers and the days they come. Whenever I got new customers in the past, I still recognized them because they were usually family of a regular. But this man is a stranger.
He has mussed up light blond hair and gorgeous light blue eyes that have a light grayish tint. A gray vest, a darker gray suit jacket, and a black coat all hung from his shoulders. His black tie and white under shirt made it all pop out. He flashes me a movie star smile and I smile back.
“Is there supposed to be a special for the day or can I just say surprise me?” He says jokingly. I blinked and stood there for a second, processing what he said.
“Yes! Um, hello! There is supposed to be a special for the day but my first customer usually comes in 2 minutes. Sorry about that!” I say braiding my hair with one hand anxiously. “The special for the day is called ‘Ambrosia Night’ which has oranges, shredded coconut, chocolate, and ube.”
He nods and looks at the rest of the menu. I hear the world starting to wake up. The sounds of cars driving by, shop doors opening, and the sirens of police cars chasing after villains.
A villain with rabbit features such as a tail, ears, and feet rushes by with a bag of money and a pistol in his other hand. Police rush by right a few seconds after he passes. I know that some people have problems or addictions and don’t know how to solve them so they resort to crime. Even while knowing that, it still hurts to watch considering I was forced to do that before.
“You know, I would like to try that ‘Ambrosia Night’ drink. Medium size please. It sounds delicious,"he declares. I look up at him before typing it up on the register.
One of the regulars swings open the door, careful not to knock over the book display in front of the window. Kashton Weavers strides in wearing his trademark green sweater and jeans. His curly hair is in its high ponytail and he raises an eyebrow at the new customer. I frown as I take the cash from the man’s hand and input it into the register. What is Kashton thinking? A bird tweets and the register opens up for me to count change.
“Wait, was that the cash register?” The man asks. I nod and continue grabbing the change. “I’ve never heard a cash register do that before. Did you do that?”
“Yes I did,” I say bluntly. It took me a while to figure out the mechanics of it but then I figured it out and implemented the sound I wanted. He raises his eyebrows in surprise. “What? Thought I couldn’t do it?” I say, leaning against the counter.
“No, not at all! I’m just impressed. I would never be able to do that!” He holds up his hands as if being arrested. I pull out a medium size cup and grab a marker.
“What’s your name?” I ask, ready to write it down.
“Tyler. What’s yours?” He replies. I make a quick mental note of his name as I write it down. Can’t forget a customer's name. I spell it out in my head as I write it down. T-Y-L-E-R. Done.
“My name is Vera Caelus,” I say quietly, being not fond of the name. I quickly add thank you and start peeling the oranges from the bamboo basket behind me. Tyler nods and out of my peripheral I see a faint blush tainting his ears.
Ding! Another customer comes in and it’s Lillia Candeel from 104th Avenue South. She’s wearing her overalls, purple button-up blouse, and black boots. Her frizzy dark blond hair is up today and her freckles are splattered on her face like the paint she uses at her artist job. Her hazel eyes scan over Tyler. She looks at Tyler suspiciously and Kashton leans over to her and whispers something in her ear. Her eyebrows raise and she smirks at me. She then winks and taps Tyler on the shoulder. He turns and looks at her.
“Hello there! How are you this morning?” He asks politely.
“I’m doing just swell! How about you? Is this your first time here? I ain’t ever seen you here before so I was surprised to see a new customer as cute as you! Especially talking to this gorgeous woman Vera Caelus!” Lillia said cheerfully. Her voice was always bubbly, like she was happy 24/7. I will never understand that feeling of being constantly happy.
Tyler’s face flushes red and he glances at me. I start to want to shrink away. I feel ashamed of the scars littering my body, like apples in a tree. I just don’t feel comfortable in my body. I feel like I shouldn’t be loved sometimes. But when I start work I don’t feel any of that, I just feel safe knowing who’s going to show up and who’s not. That’s why I was confused when he walked in. Like it was alright. I suppose it is considering this is a local establishment. I was still worried nonetheless.
As I was making the drink I had been blocking out the conversation they had been having.
“Layasia has the most fertile grounds! Krai has dry soil!” Lillia stated. Kashton crossed his arms angrily and hmphs at Lillia’s statement. Tyler is standing awkwardly off to the side listening to them and glancing at me from time to time.
I put the lid on the drink and grab a coupon for a free small drink and I walk over to the counter.
“Tyler!” I wait as he walks over. “Here is your ‘Ambrosia Night’ and your first time coupon for a free small drink.”
“Thank you so much! I can't wai-” He pauses. “-I can’t wait to see you tomorrow,” he says softly. He puts a dollar and a slip of paper in the tip jar. He winks then kindly smiles at me and walks out with a ding! My stomach has a weird fluttering feeling that some might call ‘butterflies’. What is this feeling? I think to myself.
“So, who was that guy?,” Kashton asks. I shrug not knowing who he is either.
“He was a stranger. Now he is not. That is what I must remember. Now, your usual?,” I explain, pushing the thought about the butterflies out of my mind. Kashton throws me a thumbs up and winks at me. I shake my head at his silliness and start to make his drink.
It doesn’t take long. I’m done within a few minutes. I make Lillias drink too and set them down on the counter.
“Please try not to mess with him too much. Please also try not to set me up with him. If he falls for me… I don’t even know what I would do,” I say, muttering the last part.
Kashton nods. Lillia pouts and puts her hands on her hips. My shoulders drop and I look at her tiredly. I shake my head and my silent message gets to her. They grab their drinks and head out with a wave and a goodbye.
I look in the tip jar and take out the slip of paper. I flip it over and it has Tyler’s phone number along with a note. It says, ‘You must be a broom because you just swept me off my feet.’ I start to smile before stopping. Why am I smiling? If I’m right it’s called a pickup line. It’s dumb, childish an- and it’s adorable. I sigh wondering when I became like this. ‘Your mother would be disappointed,’ my thoughts whispered. I freeze. No, she’s not here right now. I look back at the phone number and I begrudgingly throw it away after scribbling it out. I’m not good enough for someone as cute as him. I know he thinks I’m pretty but he’s not ready for my trauma. Nobody is.
As I think about the note and him I wait for the other employees to show up. Once they arrive I set off with a wave as I head to a business meeting.
Music thumps in my headphones as I walk into the pristegis building. I make a quick detour to the bathroom to change into something more professional.
I put on my black undershirt with gold embroidery that reaches across the fabric like roots in the ground. I button up my black vest and I lace up the matching corset and put on the matching suit jacket. I grab the matching gloves from my bag and slide them onto my hands. I put on some lipgloss and brush my hair out.
I leave the bathroom and go in the elevator. Right before the door closes someone’s hand stops it and pushes open the doors again.
Tyler is standing there breathing heavily. A few stray strands of hair fall in front of his face as he put his hands on his knees and catches his breath. After a second or two he stands up and presses his floor button.
“Sorry about that miss. I had a meeting and now I have another meeting and I am just so sorry,” he apologizes. He sighs and looks at me. His eyes light up and then he realizes that I was the one here during the whole ‘meeting to meeting’ bit.
“Hello Tyler,” I say with a smile. He smiles back.
“Hello Vera,” he says softly. Thump thump. I can feel my heart beating and my hands get sweaty. What is this feeling? I don’t understand.
“So what are you here for? I have a meeting on the 5th floor. Are you going there too? Just an assumption since there’s no other button pressed,” he asks.
“I’m also going to a meeting, it’s on the 5th floor,” I say. Neither of us say what’s on our mind. But we both know the question. Are we going to the same meeting?
Tyler inhales as if he’s about to talk and then the elevator beeps. We are finally on the 5th floor. I don’t know why I feel this way around him but I don’t know if I like it or not. It reminds me of the feeling my brother described to me once. He called it love but I don’t know if it’s that. It makes me uncomfortable thinking about it.
We walk to our meetings. Except neither of us break away from one another. Tyler’s hand brushes against mine and I pull away. In the corner of my eye I see his hand clench and I hear a small sigh.
C’mon! This is the best drama we get in this place!
Except for that one doctor and the nurse, whoof! It got steamy watching those two!
Just kiss him already!
Voices filled my head with their chatter and I wince at the sudden blast of noise. Plants were everywhere around almost every corner and there were several on some desks.
Tyler stopped at the sight of me wincing. His eyes are wide with worry. I frown at him and the plants go crazy at the sight of that.
Oh my god. DANIELLE! THERE’S DRAMA! Oh look at these two lovebirds. He’ll propose to her someday I’m telling you!
What do you want Tracy- OH MY HEAVENS HE'S WORRIED ABOUT HER!! My roots can’t take this tension! On someone's desk an orchid leaves shiver.
“Are you okay? If you have a headache I have some Tylenol and some Advil.” He starts to reach to open his briefcase.
“I’m fine. These flora and foliage are loud and it hurts my head,” I say pinching the bridge of my nose.
Did she just call us FLORA?!
Did she just call us FOLIAGE?!
Quiet down Darlene! She just said we’re hurting her head!
He cocks his head and puts his briefcase back down next to his leg. I look up at him and he still looks worried. I start to feel a bit frustrated. What is this? Does he know what I’m feeling? Tyler looks away from me and makes a noise that oddly sounds like a squeak.
“Oh crap! We have to go! The meeting is about to start!” Tyler starts running off into the distance and I quickly follow. If I were to be honest I don't know where the meeting is, I was just following Tyler. We take a few turns and then we’re there. He’s panting when he makes it to the door.
“Wait,” I say the words untentionally tumbling out of my mouth. He looks over at me and my hands start moving. I may not feel the same way he does but I can still make sure he doesn't feel any discomfort during the meeting. My fingers pass along his forehead as I move his bangs out of his eyes. A blush creeps up his face as I open up the meeting room doors.
Everyone looks at us as we walk in to take our seats. Tyler’s flushed face has calmed down a bit but the plants have not. They are chattering away, talking about how cute we look together.
The meeting starts and I take notes. The company I work for is always grateful that I take the higher ups’ place in these meetings but I find it to be a waste of my hard work. I don’t care how much I get paid, just as long as my money adds up to the amount of work I do.
I get the feeling that someone is watching me and so I look up and see some old man staring right at my chest. I start to get a bad feeling in my stomach. I want to punch him senseless for thinking that he could get away with looking at me inappropriately but I don’t move. I know that I could get fired if I start something with a big CEO.
I go on uncomfortably taking notes. I feel his eyes staring holes in my chest and then I feel it. The coldness of a shadow. It’s his shadow, creeping up my legs and it sneaks underneath my shirt. I go numb. With the amount of times this has happened before I just don’t bother anymore. The amount of ‘appointments’ that my mother set up just so she could make money while men do this to me.
The shadow slips away suddenly and I look over at him. He’s frowning at Tyler but Tyler isn’t looking at him, he’s looking at me. He then looks away at the man who’s talking and I sense an caladium’s roots passing a note too me. I let it talk to me.
This is a little note from your future fiancé. Do you want me to read it to you?
I would like that thank you.
It says, ‘If you didn’t figure it out already I am able to sense how people feel. I don’t have to touch them, I just have to focus on them. I didn’t have to focus when you felt discomfort at something I couldn’t see. When I focused all my energy on you I felt your anger at your mother and the man next to me. I hope I helped out. On a completely unrelated note, did you throw away my phone number? Because if you did, my feelings are hurt.’ And then there’s an frowning face.
The caladium hands the notes to me with the roots it was carrying it with and see the frowning face he was talking about. It says, ‘ >:( From, Tyler.’ I shake my head at the silliness of it. I tell the caladium to come closer and I take off my left hand glove. I take the small butterfly knife I have and I poke myself. I let a droplet form and I let it drop onto the root. I thank the caladium for its work. I put my glove back on and put the knife away. The caladium in the corner gets fuller and more green after a second or two.
I think about the caladium and the effect my blood had on it as the man talking keeps droning on about this new program they want to add to websites. My powers, on the left side of my body I am able to control and create plants or nature. I can talk to them as well. My left eye is green because I got it from my mothers genes. My mom has the hero name of ‘Mother Earth’ because she can the same things Gaia from the Greek myths can do. She can control the nature around her. But the ‘mother’ I know isn’t the same one that everyone else knows. To them she didn’t hurt her daughter. To them she didn’t sell her daughters body to men for money. To them she didn’t abuse and cut her daughter if she was a minute late on making dinner or if she refused to get raped by someone. That’s not the Gaia they know.
I am snapped out of my thoughts as everyone starts clapping. I do too and I feel disconnected from what’s happening right now. I hear everyone packing up on the right side of me and I see everyone packing up on the left side of me. I start to pack up as well. Once I am done whisper a thanks to the caladium as I head out the door. I feel a tap on my shoulder as I head left.
“That’s the wrong way Vera. Before we came from the right, remember?” I let go of the breath I didn’t know I was holding. “Yeah, it’s Tyler. Hey, at least it’s not that creepy old man that was touching you with his… shadow? I just hope I got whatever it was away from you,” Tyler says, chuckling.
“It was his shadow. And, thank you for that. I don’t usually do anything about it and I am glad that you did. Great method of transportation with that note too. Caladiums are quiet plants and they are very nice.” I look over him and I smile.
His eyes go wide and his jaw drops. I see his eyes sparkle as he smiles.
“Do you want to hang out later? We can go with my friends if you don’t want it to be just us two! I just- I just want to ask because you seem like a great person. Even if you are all quiet and don’t do anything about guys touching you? That’s a red flag for everyone but I think it just means I get to protect you from ugly ass wrinkly old guys like that you know?,” he blurts out.
I laugh and nod my head.
“You’ll hang out with just me or with my friends?”
“I’ll hang out with just you and then next time we can hang out with your friends too,” I say, my heart beating out of my chest. He smiles big and my knees almost give way.
“Are we going to my house or your house?,” Tyler asks.
“Can we go to your house? I have my brothers at my apartment,” I suggest. I think about how they’ll pester Tyler and intimidate him by saying they will kill him if come back with even a scratch.
“Ok got it! Im going to give you my phone number again since I’m pretty sure you threw my other one away,” he takes out his phone and I take out mine. Some of his bangs fall in front of his eyes and he uses one of his hands to run his hair back. The bangs fall back to where they were and I push them so their behind his ears. I barely hear him as he chuckles under his breath.
“Ok I found it! Here it is.” He hands me his phone and I type it in. I send the word ‘Caladium’ just to make I typed it in right. His phone buzzes and I jolt.
“Sorry, I’m not used to all of this technology. I grew up in a village that was 30 miles from the nearest city. We didn’t have anything like this there,” I explain. My phone buzzes as well.
Don’t worry about it! :)
I look up at him and I shake my head at the goofy expression he has on his face. I start walking in the direction he said we came from and he pulls ahead to lead us out.
“When should I come over to your apartment and which one is it?,” Tyler asks.
“How about 5pm? Apartment 300. That time would work for me. That means we would have two hours to get ready. Speaking of getting ready where are we going?,” I respond.
“We could go over to my place and we could just watch some movies while eating popcorn if that’s alright with you,” he answers.
“That sounds great. Also, what is popcorn? Is it popped corn?”
“What?! You’ve never had popcorn?! Have you ever even seen a movie?”
“Well I’ve seen three movies. But is popcorn popped corn?”
“Popcorn is popped corn kernels. But only three movies?! Oh my god we have some work to do!”
White Roses of Aphrodite
Πέμπτη, 8 Μαΐου 2025, 16:45pm
[Thursday May, 8th, 2025 4:45pm]
On my way! :p
See you soon “)
It’s the two sideways dots for
the smiley face silly! :)
There you go! :D
I set down my phone and look at myself in the full body length mirror. When Tyler said ‘dress casually’ I honestly don’t know what he means. What I’m currently wearing is something my brothers picked out for me. When I had originally shown them what I was going to wear they protested and whined that it was too beautiful. My brother Emilios asked me what Tyler said to wear and when I told him he freaked out.
‘What are you talking about? Casual?! You are dressed as though you’re going to a dance or something! Oh, big sis. You’ll make him feel bad! Λάμπεις σαν το φεγγάρι. There’s no reason to be afraid,’ Emilios said. Λάμπεις σαν το φεγγάρι. In Greek it means, You shine like the moon. I love my brothers so much. They make me feel whole.
“Hey sis! Is he here yet? I have my threats ready for that bastard,” Prometheus says with a smile on his face.
“Stop it with that face. You also don’t need to threaten him or call him a bastard. He asked me to hang out and I accepted his offer. So stop making it seem like he forced me into this!” I kick him in his side. “You are intimidating enough being 7 '3 and scary looking!”
“Aaaooowww!!!! How dare you say I’m scary! I don’t try to be! I was just joking about the threats you know. Chill the fuck out sis,” Prometheus says holding his side.
He stops holding his side and holds out his fisted hand with the palm side up. I look up into his eyes and back down to his hand. His fingers uncurl themselves from the object they were holding onto. It’s a bracelet. It was from the first friend I made back home. Her name was Kyriake. She was my favorite person. She kept me from doing the unspeakable.
“Achoo! ‘Scuse me,” my other brother Akakios says. His sneeze snaps me out of my thoughts. I seem to be doing more since I met Tyler. Why is that?
“Wow sis. You look nice! You make it all?,” Akakios asks. I grab the bracelet and clip it on.
“Of course I did. Are you doubting my craftsmanship? Stand up straight! Who’re you hiding from lil’ man? He’s just a guy I met at work,” I say, braiding my hair anxiously. This sudden burst of anxiety about hanging out with Tyler is gripping me, dragging me down into the jaws of its aggression. I play it off in front of my brothers.
“Stop worrying about it! If he doesn’t treat you well we will beat him up,” Prometheus says, smashing his fist into the palm of his other hand. Flames lick out the skin of where his hands meet. I sigh seeing that they’re orange flames and not blue or white ones.
“Prometheus, Emilios, Akakios, I have one question for you all. Where is Astro?” I cross my arms and look at all of them. They quickly look away and I frown. Is he down at the front doors? Is he?!
“Is he down at the front door?! He’s too sick to be there!,” I exclaim. I start fiddling with the bracelet.
“He insisted on going down there himself! We tried to stop him but we couldn’t! He was stronger than we thought,” Emilios says, accidentally blowing a gust of wind. Akakios looks away and Prometheus looks down at me with tired eyes. I sigh and walk my way over to the door. I check myself in the mirror just in case.
A white sweater with a cherry blossom tree design. The time I spent embroidering it is shocking. It only took me a couple of days to finish it. Making the fabric for the sweater was harder than the embroidery. It had to be smooth on the outside while warm and fuzzy on the inside. My cotton plants were extra nice to me for this project. They understood that it was complex and hard to do by hand in general. They are so kind to me.
The black flare pants were easier to make than I expected. They earn their name because they flair out after your knee. These took less time than I thought they would. Just a few days was all it took. The matching cherry blossom tree embroidery intertwines at the seam going up the side of the pants.
I continue walking to the door, my boots lightly clicking against the floor. I open the door to see Tyler and Astro talking to each other.
Tyler is wearing a blue t-shirt that is the same color as his eyes. It says, “It doesn’t matter what’s been written in your story so far, it’s how you fill the remainder of the pages that counts.” -From some book. Over top of that he has a midnight blue button-up sweater. For pants he has black sweatpants. His hair is as messy as it was this morning.
“Hello Vera! How are you?,” Tyler asks, holding a white rose with the thorns taken off.
“Hello Tyler. I’m good. How are you?,” I reply while staring down Astro.
“I’m doing good. I met your brother Astro at the front doors! He was waiting for me. Also, here. A white rose for you. It kind of seemed like your color,” Tyler says blushing rising to his face as he wears a bashful smile. I take the rose from him and I stare at it. The petals protect the delicate inside from being hurt. Just as I must do with my brothers.
“You reminded me of that one story of Aphrodite with her and the white roses. She found her lover hurt and she either cut herself or cried, it depends on the version you read. But either way it made a red rose bush. The symbol of love that we use is built upon pain. You need a cleanser of pain. You need a break from it. I don’t know much but from what I’ve felt from you, you didn’t have the best childhood. Let me date you. I want to help you,” Tyler says, closing my hand in on the rose.
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. I count to eight to see if he says anything else. When he doesn’t I feel a sob forming. Tears start to glimmer in my eyes. No one has given me this big of a gesture before. He wants to help me. He wants to love me. I’ve been unloved by most of my family except for these four of my brothers. I feel Tylers arms snake around me and I lean my head into the crook of his neck. He smells like apple cider and vanilla.
Flow out, fall, drip. My tears fall like rain from clouds.