Richard sat in the corner, between the Kentia Palm tree and the waste paper bin, which needed emptying. Mr Peters, at his desk, held his head in one hand and a pen in the other, reading and making notes. His face was strained with concentration and every now and then he would frown at something he read. Around him, on the desk, were several piles of paper, books and stationary. At the start of the day they had been neatly stacked and organised but now sheets lay scattered everywhere.
Richard tried not to lean back in
his chair or stretch his legs out; not that Mr Peters would notice but somehow
it seemed disrespectful to relax in front of a man working so hard. So instead
he sat upright and still. Mr Peters leant over his desk barely moving a muscle,
unless to turn a page or scribble something down. Even his eyes barely seemed
‘What am I going
to do?’ thought Jack Peters. He stared down at the paper in front of him but
didn’t take any of it in. ‘I just can’t believe I forgot it was her birthday,’
he said to himself for the hundredth time. He sat still, head in his hand.
‘Why doesn’t Rich move?’ he thought.
‘He’s been sat there all morning and hasn’t shifted at all.’ Jack sketched a
bit more of the picture of his wife on the back of the finance report. Then he
drew a speech bubble and wrote “RICHARD!” He stopped. Why had he written that.
He’d meant to put his own name, why would Emma be shouting at Rich? I don’t think
she even knows him. ‘Must be because I was just thinking about him,’ thought
at the framed photo of Emma on the desk. ‘I wonder if Jack’s forgotten it’s her
He’d only met Emma once, at some work party, but she’d seemed pleasant
enough. He suspected though that their marriage was struggling. Several times
he’d had to feign deafness while Jack failed to reason with Emma down the
phone. Richard was pleased his own relationship was rather more stable.
His mind turned to his girlfriend, Samantha. ‘What are the chances she’ll
be free tomorrow, I can’t believe I haven’t seen her since Tuesday,’ he
thought. ‘I must see her tomorrow though, even if it can’t be for dinner.’
‘Rich,’ said Jack looking up
suddenly, ‘can you go into town and buy some flowers for me?’
‘For you?’ Richard replied, ‘I
didn’t think you like flowers that much.’
‘No not for me, for my wife.’
‘Oh right, sorry. Sure. Any
‘Um, roses. They’re always good.’
‘Red ones?’ said Richard, standing
‘Yeah, cheers Rich,’ answered Jack,
his eyes back on the page on his desk.
‘So he did
forget Emma’s birthday,’ thought Richard as he strolled along the street. He’d
not been to many flower shops before, he always felt overwhelmed by the choice
and wasn’t sure what Samantha liked. He made a mental note to find out.
As he entered the nearest florists
the intense mix of scents hit him, causing him to cough. He proceeded more
slowly amongst the rows of colourful buds. ‘I’m not sure which I like least,’
he thought, ‘the smell of a florist’s or the smell of those perfume shops.’
Richard didn’t have much of a clue about perfume either, but Samantha had
always graciously received anything he’d bought for her.
‘How may I help you Sir?’ said the
owner from behind him, causing him to jump.
‘Oh, err, a bouquet of red roses,
please,’ replied Richard.
‘Certainly,’ the man said, selecting
a few flowers and wrapping them. ‘A good choice, I must say.’
‘Would you like us to deliver them
for you? Anywhere within five miles at no extra cost. Over five we charge a
pound for every mile.
‘Err, yes,’ said Richard. His head
was starting to hurt with the smell of all the flowers, but he gave Mr Peters’
As the man made a note Richard
suddenly recalled that Samantha wouldn’t be free tomorrow because she was meeting
a friend. ‘Damn,’ he thought.
‘Would you like to write the name on
a card to go with the flowers, Sir?’ The man pushed a card across the counter.
Richard took a pen from his jacket pocket, wrote Samantha, and passed it back.
‘That will be thirty-five pounds
Richard counted out some notes,
nodded his thanks to the man and left as quickly as he could, desperate to get
out of the shop.
It was only
later, when he was back in Mr Peters’ office, that it occurred to Richard what
he’d done. Just then the telephone rang.