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You know you’ve got a great boss when you’re singing Disney songs together. Painting the roses red, we’re painting the roses red! Ashley and I are in the back room of the flower shop, dipping and dropping various flowers in dye. It’s a routine morning chore, but I still get a laugh when people hear how the petals get their colour.
“Pardon me, Mister Three.” Nancy, the trainee, pokes her head through the door and interrupts our chorus. “But the dentist would like a purple and gold bunch, pick up in an hour.”
Ashley deposits the roses she’s holding in a vase of blue dye and hefts up a bottle of dark brown liquid.
“Here, Bella.” She deposits it on my counter. “You seem a bit uptight this morning. Working with some gold might help.” Uptight? I hadn’t even noticed. Maybe I was singing a little too deep, or emphasising my reds. The colour red wasn’t exactly on my favourites list at the moment.
“I am a little annoyed.” I push aside the orange dye I was working with and begin unfastening the bottle. Ashley raises her eyebrows in that 'do tell' way. “My little sister got her period yesterday, and she’s been acting crazy ever since.”
“Ooooh. I see.”
“She yelled for at least three minutes when I finished the milk at brekky.”
“Can you blame her?” Ashley laughs. “Milk is the bomb.”
I shrug, then take three white roses and snip a few slits in their stems. I place them in the bottle of gold dye- that’s how we colour our flowers, the rainbows aren’t a work of nature, funnily enough. Already I can see the stems turning brown as they suck up the liquid. When it gets to the petals, it’ll look amazing. Like pure gold, petals worthy of a queen’s crown.
Dying flowers is oddly therapeutic.
“You weren’t too hard on her were you?” My boss pipes up after a moment of silence.
“I did storm out of the house without saying goodbye, but can you blame me?” I bend down and search through the cupboard under the counter for a bottle of purple dye. It’s hidden behind the red; dark and clotty, like blood. When I snap back up, Ashley is right in front of me with a fresh bundle of daisies in her arms.
“You ought to congratulate her,” she says.
“Excuse me?” It’s hardly a way to talk to my boss, but it comes out anyway. “For throwing a tantrum?”
“Your sister has just stepped into womanhood. It’s a frustrating, confusing world, and she has the right to be crazy for five days in the month.” She thrusts the flowers at me -luckily I’ve got a tight grip on that purple dye- and smirks. “I bet she’s put up with a lot worse from you.”
I place the bottle of dye on the counter and cradle the daisies like a baby. I can remember when my sister was small enough to fit in my arms. Her skin was soft and pale, and her lips always curled up when I cooed at her.
I glance at the rose petals, swirls of gold rising in them like the morning sun. I can remember when my sister’s hair was gold and fuzzy. I’ve still got a ringlet of it somewhere, from her first haircut. She’d yelled at us to not ‘kill’ her ridiculously long hair, but afterward, she’d looked in a mirror and seen the beauty she’d become.
“Your sister is blossoming into a woman,” Ashley says, “and you’ve gotta be there to support her. Through the good and bad.”
You know you’ve got the best boss in the world when she tells you to drop your work and dye a bunch of flowers for your sister.
I dye those daisies every colour that’s available, a rainbow bouquet. Because even though we fight, that’s just a thing that comes with love. And my sister means everything to me.