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A Perfect Bloom 42 – Alex Ankarr
It wouldn’t be true to say that the warmth immediately floods back into Sam’s face, not right away. But there’s a cautious kind of hopefulness that takes away the tight… well, misery, it looked like, a moment ago. “Really?” he asks. A beautiful, charismatic, talented ex-con shouldn’t be capable of looking so gentle, so soft and innocent suddenly – should be hardened into cynicism by bitter experience. But it seems that’s not the case.
“Really,” Cory says firmly. And – because he simply wants to know – he asks, “If you hadn’t seen me with Adam – and that really was absolutely nothing, by the way, a storm in a teacup there – what were you going to give me? Today?” And he thinks he can safely say that, now. Even without explicit admission, it’s not exactly a secret between them, who gave him this week’s gifts.
There’s a shyness – amazing, with the level of cheek and confidence that Cory knows he has in him – that has Sam’s eyes evading his, casting down, before he can speak. But then he does speak. “I hadn’t worked it out,” he says, mumbling slightly. “I – don’t have anything.” He fidgets, and is clearly feeling the omission as a bit of a faux pas. But Cory can sort that out easy enough.
He could perhaps, have been more stealthy with the rose. But it still counts, he feels. He brought it specially, after all, and after all… He already knows that, out of all the hybrids the company produces, this is Sam’s favourite. And perhaps an unoriginal idea for his own gift only fits the pattern Sam’s established, he thinks. A stolen rose, imperfect baking, a copied poem and slightly inexpert guitar playing. And now, Cory himself, copying Sam’s original idea, and reaching out to take his hand, as he holds out a rose that’s second-hand and still lovely.
“There is a fifth present,” he says softly. “If you’ll take mine, and excuse me just copying your first idea.” Sam’s eyes on the rose are warm, but there’s a slight reluctance in the way he takes it, fingers closing carefully over the thin de-thorned stem.
“But I don’t have anything to give you back. Something for you,” he repeats himself, helplessly.
© Copyright Alex Ankarr 2014
No unauthorised reproductions allowed. All rights reserved to the author. No inspirations for characters drawn from real-life individuals, no resemblance to real individuals intended.
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