|Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.
Or in her case, always a florist, never a bride.
Regardless of the specifics, April hated that saying, especially during wedding season. She moved around her little shop on Broadway, spritzing the roses and calla lilies with her little spray bottle, leaving a delicate, dew-like appearance on the vibrant flowers.
Wasn't it enough that her Mr. Right hadn't found her yet, without the constant reminder of all the other women who had found theirs? But flowers were her passion, and she was a slave to her desires, even if it meant enduring bubbling brides as they struggled with the momentous decision of red versus white orchids for the centerpieces.
After opening the shop, April checked her date book; someone named Kim Davis was her only appointment today.
She didn't know whether to smile or sigh.
On the one hand, it was the first indication that wedding season was (hopefully) drawing to a close, and she wouldn't have the daily reminders of just how single she still was.
On the other hand, she predictably hadn't saved nearly as much as she anticipated needing in order to hold her over until the Valentine's Day rush.
April always thought it ironic, and just her luck, that her greatest professional successes were realized during times of the year that also served as a reminder of her greatest personal failures. Like her flowers, April's romantic prospects were all quick to bloom, and just as quick to wither and die.
Pushing these thoughts from her mind, April set about the business of preparing for her appointment. She set out her scrapbooks of past weddings, as well as some samples of vases, ribbons and other accouterments for Kim to consider.
She was in the back room when she heard the familiar jingle of the bells on the door, announcing a visitor.
"Come on in," April called out from the back as she rummaged through waist deep old boxes and packaging material, looking for the rest of her materials. She still hadn't managed to get herself organized, despite making it a New Years' resolution... back in '04.
When she emerged from the back room, April stopped in her tracks.
The woman standing before her wasn't Kim Davis. It was Kim Greene, her arch nemesis and most hated rival. Maybe high school was a long time ago, but you don't exactly forget a former best friend who steals both your boyfriend and your clothes while you're showering after gym class. It was pretty safe to say there wasn't a single person on this planet that April despised more.
"Oh my God, April!"
The bubbling bride-to-be rushed over and embraced April in a big hug. April had to resist the urge to punch her in the face.
"I can't believe it's you! I mean, everybody knows Flowers by April... but I had no idea you were the April! I mean, who would have known you of all people would have become so famous?"
April tried her best to smile, focusing on more pleasing thoughts. Like "accidentally" backing over Kim with her car.
Still, she had a job to do. And no matter how much she despised Kim, she had to admit that the girl had money. The words 'economy' and 'frugal' weren't known to the Greene family, much less practiced. They were foreign concepts, much like doing one's own yard work, or why "do-it-yourself" was considered a desirable quality in a product. Kim's wedding was sure to be the event of the season, and her floral budget alone could likely set April up for the rest of the year.
All April had to do was smile and get through this.
She ushered her guest over to the desk in the corner.
"So nice to see you again," April lied. "Although I'm a little surprised, since you said your last name was Davis."
"Oh, that." Kim laughed. "Just trying out the new last time. It fits, don't you think?"
"Davis? You don't mean..."
And then she heard him.
"Sorry, babe. Couldn't find a parking space."
It took every ounce of energy she had not to cringe as she turned around to meet the familiar voice. Sure enough, Kenny Davis stood there staring back at her.
"April? Is that you?"
And now, April's own personal hell was complete. Not only was she meeting with both her ex-best friend and her ex-boyfriend... but apparently, they were also getting married... and wanted her to do the flowers. Even worse, April knew she couldn't afford to let this account slip away.
It took every ounce of energy she had to take her seat across the desk. The worst part was, they seemed to be happy, as if April's relationship with Kenny were just a speed bump along the road to his happily ever after... with Kim Greene of all people.
April instead focused on her work, showing them page after page of beautiful floral designs. From Kim's reaction to the photos, April knew that she didn't really need to provide references, but she did anyway.
"You do really beautiful work," Kim gushed. "You're hired."
April did her best to smile and look excited, although she secretly wondered if she had made a mistake. The floral budget, as expected, was exorbitant, and the income would be a welcome relief on her strained finances. Which was a good thing because by the time this was over, she was probably going to need a long vacation... or a one-way ticket to a non-extradition country.
Ultimately, April knew in her heart that she would do what she always did... say nothing, repress, and carry on.
And that's exactly what she did for the next eight months, which felt more like eight years thanks to Kim's frequent phone calls, changing tastes, and bizarre special requests. April took all of it in stride, and put her best foot forward through the entire process.
What made it particularly difficult was that they seemed genuinely happy together. April watched them keenly for any indication of karmic vengeance, but there was none. He didn't ogle her friends and she didn't flirt with his football buddies. Both were successful in their careers, and planning the perfect little upper class suburban family. April wanted to hate them, but couldn't when she saw how happy they made each other.
And so, on the day of the wedding, April arrived at the church and, as she strewed flower petals along the aisle, babbled like an idiot, complaining about the lack of reasons to complain about Kim and Kenny. They were the perfect couple, and, as much as April hated to admit it, were great together. He was sensitive and caring and supportive, and she... well... she was Kim.
The ceremony and reception were beautiful. April received many compliments on her work, which she gracefully (and sometimes not-so-gracefully) accepted while gorging on the wedding cake, which she had to admit, was so good it almost made the last eight months worth it.
As she returned to the table for her third helping of marble fudge wedding cake, she accidentally bumped into the photographer. She profusely apologized, although she wasn't sure if she was even halfway intelligible through the wedge of cake stuffed in her mouth.
"It's okay," the photographer said, smiling.
"You're the florist, right?"
April helplessly nodded as she tried to swallow the cake.
"Yeah, I've worked a couple other weddings with you," he continued. "I've always meant to say hi, but you usually disappear so quickly."
April knew he was right. She had two signatures... one was her intricate "sunset" calla lily bouquet... and the other was fleeing the scene at her earliest opportunity, a double slice of wedding cake in hand as she snuck out to her car. So yes, it was entirely possible that they had worked the same event before and she hadn't noticed.
"Anyway, now that I know you can be lured with cake... would you like to grab dessert with me some time?"
April looked at him in surprise.
"Yeah, uh, I'd like that."
"Great," he replied, holding up one of her business cards. "I snagged it off the vendor table in the lobby. I'll give you a call."
He moved away to take more photographs, throwing a glance back at April every now and then, making her blush.
She quickly snapped out of her reverie when she saw the time. She promised Kenny that, as a wedding gift, she would decorate their suite with rose petals for the wedding night, and she was running late.
A half hour later, the suite was covered in candles and rose petals. Satisfied with her work, she turned to leave, but stopped. A devious smile crept across her face as she made the decision.
It was already late, and the newlyweds had a 5:30 flight the next morning to their Argentinean honeymoon destination.
As she loaded Kim's overstuffed suitcase into her trunk, April conceded that, while not as bad as being left naked in a locker room, there was a certain sense of satisfaction to the thought of Kim enduring their entire fifteen-hour flight in her voluminous Cinderella-style wedding gown. Between the cake and the suitcase, April was secure in the feeling that she could, at last, let go of her hostility toward Kim.
They were even.