I brought the bouquet home, amazed at how beautiful the pink lilies looked next to the tulips and the white baby bells. Even the carnations looked elegant nestled among the greenery and the tight blooms of blush snapdragons. It was Valentine’s Day, and the bouquet was a gift.
For my sister.
I received a text earlier that morning from her frantic fiancé, Troy. “I need a favor,” the text began. My sister, Sierra, was living with me for a few months while she completed an internship. She’s actually my 14-years-younger-than-me-half-sister. This was the first time we had ever lived under the same roof.
And Troy, an hour-and-a-half away, had dutifully ordered a Valentine’s bouquet days ahead of time. But when the delivery was thwarted by a last-minute technicality, he was desperate.
“Could you possibly pick her up some flowers from me and I can send you the money for them?” he had texted. There’s nothing romantic about technicalities.
I was glad to, though I had no idea how I would pull it off on such short notice. I had never bought flowers for Valentine’s Day before.
“Pink lilies. She likes those,” Troy said, when I asked for preferences.
“Can you do pink lilies?” I asked the overworked clerk of one of the best florists in town. Since it was up to me and I wasn’t paying for it, I went all out.
After work, I stood in line with several men, all picking up their pre-ordered arrangements. Most left with large bouquets of roses. Sierra isn’t a roses kind of girl; the lilies would be perfect.
I grabbed a card, using my most generic handwriting to write out her name and my address. Since Troy was in another town, she wouldn’t be expecting his script. I was hoping to imitate a random floral clerk.
Carrying the arrangement carefully from the car to the house, I first set them on the dining room table, wanting to rip the plastic off. Then, I carried them back to Sierra’s bedroom, making a pact with myself not to reveal my role in the surprise.
When she walked in later that evening, I pointed to the bedroom. She emerged with the bouquet, set it on the dining room table, and tore off the plastic, just like I had wanted to.
“Did Troy call you?” she asked, reading the card.
“He texted,” I said, breaking the pact. “How did you know?”
“He said there was a problem with the florist,” she said, smiling. “And this is your handwriting.”
“I tried to make it look like the clerk’s handwriting.”
“Sis, I’ve been reading this handwriting my whole life,” she said, admiring the lilies. “Let’s leave these out here so we can both enjoy them.”
Friday, as Sierra was heading back to her home for the weekend, I saw her eyeing the flowers.
“So, you’re leaving them here, right?” I teased.
“I better take them home so Troy can see them,” she said.
“Of course you should,” I agreed.
As she left that morning, I couldn’t help thinking of the way Troy had relied on me, like family. And I thought of those lilies, too, and the way Sierra had shared them with me, like sisters do.
Best Valentine’s ever, I thought to myself, watching her carry the bouquet to the car.