She’ll Remember the Roses
by John Kaniecki
He opened his black leather wallet to the familiar emptiness he was accustomed to. Not to be thwarted he thrust his hands into his blue jeans pockets. Finding them empty he turned them inside out. This extra effort only produced the discovery of a hole. Finally he reached inside his black jacket to find the feel of paper. “Hope it’s a twenty, hope it’s a twenty…” began a mantra. Upon examination it was a lowly Lincoln.
Gazing upon the gray haired woman behind the newspaper stand he smacked the green paper upon the counter. “A dozen, carnations please,” he said with enthusiasm.
“She’ll remember the roses,” spoke the ancient proprietor.
The suggestion struck James in an awkward manner. Tonight was a once in a life time event. He had met the girl, no, the exact woman of his dreams. But roses were twenty dollars a dozen while the asking price of the carnations was an affordable five. “A dozen carnations,” he repeated insistently.
Sir,” said the woman pleading, “She’ll remember the roses.”
James gave a quick glance backwards to see that Laura was still waiting. The lovely young lady caught the look and broadly smiled before giving a bashful look away. “I ain’t got all night lady,” the young man began angrily. Then in a hushed whisper, “For Christ’s sake I’m in love.”
The elderly woman wobbled to the carnation rack and pulled out a dozen carnations consisting of equal portions of pink, white and red; she liberally mixed in some white baby’s breath and green leaves. Hobbling back the woman hand them to the eager patron. Immediately he put them to his nose and sniffed a sniff of delight.
“She’ll remember the roses,” the saleslady tried a final time.
“And you’ll remember me as the jerk you tried to exhort as much money as you can get out of,” said the young man in a restrained rage.
Snatching the flowers with venom the young man turned away. James hid the flowers behind his back and took broad strides towards his black hair beauty. The moonlight shined majestic with stars twinkling and blinking approval. James was oblivious to the scenery focused solely on his true love. “Here Laura,” said the young Romeo fighting his shyness, “these are for you.” Like a magician pulling a rabbit from a hat the young lover presented the dozen carnations.
From his vantage point in the woods the man could see and hear everything that was going on. His eyes watched intensely recording every last movement with intensity.
“Why they’re beautiful,” said Laura, her face an explosion of glee.
“Just like you,” said James awkwardly.
And then it happened that magical moment, she kissed him. It was the summation of all the love poems and all the philosophies of kindness rolled into one and then some. James needless to say was overwhelmed. The connection on the lips lingered as the young couple interlocked their hands. Retreating from the embrace the hands remained held as they began the long trek to Laura’s dormitory.
The man sat in the woods concealed watching every single step. He gazed on until the couple vanished in the horizon. He knew it was a night the young man would never forget. In fact the young man would be haunted by that moment every single day of his life. For you see the man in the woods was James.
It took forty years for James to manage the time travel adventure. Not only did he have to secure the exuberant funds but he had to satisfy certain authorities about his intentions. Time travel is serious business. Life is incurably infinite. Mathematical equations fail when you just factor in one variation in the time stream. Theoretically one slight change could dramatically alter realities in unthinkable ways.
James had fallen in love with Laura. She sealed it with a kiss. In fairy tales when a man kisses a woman in true love the bond is eternal. However James knew from the harsh reality of his history that life was no fantasy. Laura would walk out of his life crushing his heart forever.
The watch on James’ wrist buzzed indicating it was time to return from whence he came. He scanned the area making sure it was entirely vacant except for the old lady attending the news stand by the bus stop. Quickly James fled his place of concealment. With deliberate speed he hustled towards the field far away from the bus stop. However as he made his escape a sobbing voice of familiarity paralyzed him causing him to freeze in stillness.
Glancing up he gazed at the news stand full of magazines, candies, and other assorted goods for sale. The ancient lady lifted her head tears streaming down her eyes as she wept. James looked and despite long years he recognized the face. It was none other than Laura.
“Carnations are for one night, roses are for forever,” the ancient woman sobbed in a pitiful voice. “She’ll remember the carnations.”
James overcome with the realization that he was not the only one to fall in love that night, nor was he the only one to travel in time searching for answers. Somehow life was vibrant and new, not roses but true to reality, carnations.
John currently serves as secretary for Rhyming Poets International and he is a member of the Revolutionary Poet’s Brigade, won the Joe Hill Poetry Labor Prize. He’s published by Struggle Magazine, The Blue Collar Review, Burning Books, Jerry Jazz, IWW Newspaper, Protest Poems, Flute, Black Magnolia, Left Curve, She Mom, Whisper, Vox Poetica, and has an e-Chapbook on Cavalcade of Stars.