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Eden Ashley

New York in July

A three-colored bouquet hides in between his legs; Red roses, blue Geraniums, and white Daisies. The roses are stealing the attention of the others, which at the moment battling against the air vents, trying to stand still. July is not an easy month in New York City. Sweat scents are filling the subway, which is already too crowded. The flowers are doing their best to beat the awful scents and spread their own, mostly for people who didn’t get the chance of sitting down. Most of them are grabbing the top handrail, revealing soaked armpits, but not of the shower. The deodorants are not doing their job in New York in July, the flowers think to themselves. He’s thinking the same, while a beautiful blonde girl stands right in front of him. Her armpit hair and her eyebrows are the same color as her tiny head curls. He wonders if it’s real, curious about divulging what’s hiding underneath her panties. He sits and holds the bouquet between his legs while he subtly approaches, prying after her undetected scent. But this is not the easiest thing to do, regarding the fact that the guy who sits right next to him smells like pickles. The odor is so strong that it feels like this guy has been stuck in a jar for ages until Aladdin himself released him from the evil curse. Perhaps pickles are like wine, getting better with age? If so, this guy should go off the train and let himself breathe. 

She scratches her inner thigh, and her bright pink dress slightly rises. The flowers are standing still. Again, he tries to sniff every piece of her, but smells nothing. Is she scentless? Her dress didn’t get back to its place, and he can only imagine the magic his grasping hand could do. He would caress the petals on her bright skin, watching the almost invisible leg hair quivers, while she whispers his name. The fantasy fails to exist the moment he realizes she doesn’t even know his name. The awful pickles smell is back to his nostrils, makes his eyes tear a little. Ugh. She would think he’s a crying baby. If she asks, he can always blame the allergies. What’s worse? Being allergic to flowers or panties? Wait. What? P-i-c-k-l-e-s, he repeats to himself, terrified of saying the wrong thing. But her panties are all he can think about; Are they made out of silk or lace? Is her blonde fleece penetrates the fabric to get some air? If so, that can teach the pickle guy a thing or two.

The subway doors open, and people are rushing out. The pickle guy is one of them. Phew. He looks over the empty and un-pickley spot, and his heart is about to collapse. It’s maybe small, but the idea of the blonde girl squishing right next to him doesn’t leave much to the imagination. But instead, another guy takes it, dressed in sports clothes. He tries not to stare at this guy’s shorts, which shows a bit too much. Blue-ish veins are see-thought his pale skin. His leg hair is going in a different direction, ruining the flowing harmony. He moves his head slowly, trying to avoid eye-contact, so he looks at his shirt instead. He notices a sticker with a number on it; Black numbers on a white sticker sheet. The dry-fit shirt, the same as the deodorants, is not doing its job in New York City in July. The sweat sticks to his skin, not going anywhere. The only thing that evaporates is the awful smell. He glances again to see that the marathon is sponsored by Nutella. The absurd drives him mad but also hungry. It’s been a while since he ate a Nutella crepe. She probably likes bananas in hers, he thinks to himself while imagining her, devouring the also-blonde bananas.

Switching back to her, he follows her legs until he notices the shoes – white boots with a thick black stripe and a… Summer dress? Oh well, he figures, this is New York in July, the rain is always around the corner. The subway stops, but this time, she’s the one to take off. She bushwhacks her way through the sweaty crowd. Two stops away, he decides to take off too, doing his best not to lose eye-contact and shielding his flowers at the same time. He’s not sure if roses dig the summer heat in general, yet feels sorry he doesn’t have an umbrella to protect them on the long way home.

“Is it supposed to rain today?” he asks while following her up the stairs. She doesn’t answer, so he asks again: “Is it supposed to rain today??”. Her tiny curls flutter as she turns her head. Based on her expression, she has no clue what he’s talking about. He wants to blame it on her boots, but instead, he mumbles: “for the flowers.” She gazes upon the flowers which she sees for the first time. Was she blind the entire train ride? He asks himself what vanish first: the colors of the petals or their scent? She probably doesn’t know. She didn’t even notice the flowers from the first place. He craves for the Nutella crepe more than ever. An irksome silence makes his eyebrows tingle while he tries guessing the prize of the Nutella marathon; Nutella? The absurd hits him again. 

“The rain is not gonna help, they’re already dead,” she says, shaking him from his hazelnutty dream.

“So why do people put them in water?” he asks while she scratches her inner thigh, again.

“To keep them pretty for a little longer. This is why people buy flowers from the first place, right? Pretty things to put in their boring-IKEA house,” she answers, and he feels the petals are ready to wither. “Who are these for?” she asks, nosy.

“My mom,” he shrugs, hoping she won’t ask any further questions. Flowers are tricky, he thinks to himself. From the happiest occasion to the saddest, from a wedding to a consolation prize, from a birthday to a death day. Perhaps they’re also giving them away on the Nutella marathon.

“Is she dead?” the blonde girl asks.

“Kind of” he answers, appreciating her subliminal pessimism.

“What does it mean?” she asks, taking a confident stride.

“She is alive, but not really for a long time now. So I give her flowers every year, hoping the scents will wake her up” and while saying it, he begins to think of how these flowers could’ve been the same flowers he would bring to her funeral. He shakes his head and looks at his chocolate girl, this time wishing for her next question.

“You should take her to the park, I don’t think the smell is as strong after you’re picking them up,” she says as she bends over to sniff them, making sure she’s right. Her bright pink dress detaches, revealing a delicate tan mark, no bra in sight. The flowers are standing still, thrilled off the affection. 

“Do you wanna grab dinner later?” he asks while the sweat drops tickle his sleeves.

“It’s 4th of July,” she answers.

 “We can get crepes and watch the fireworks,” he draws quickly as he had already planned it.

She tears a piece of the newspaper in which the flowers are wrapped with and writes down her number. He reads it while she writes, he can’t wait. Suzi. With the number on one hand and the bouquet on the other, he walks satisfied down the street. The sweat reaches down his belt when he goes up the stairs, after a too long of a walk in New York in July. He steps inside, takes his shoes off, and locks the door behind him.

“Hey,” he shouts to the big vacant space. His mom walks out of the kitchen and hugs him. “Happy 4th of July,” he says and hands her the triple-colored flowers. She smiles and hurries to put them in water, to cool them off the heat of New York in July. But he’s questioning the method now.

“I made chicken and vegetables in the oven and apple pie for dessert,” she says, the flour caresses her cheeks.

“I’m not staying for dinner, mom,” he says, cutting the cooking smells with a knife. He can’t stop thinking about the real dessert he’s about to have. And if it’ll go well, oh well, he will tell her the flowers had succeeded this year.


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