It is a day much the same as all the others. I woke up, had my coffee and made my way to the shop. It is exactly how I left it the night before. I didn't expect much to happen today; nothing more exciting then maybe an annoying customer or two. So I say a quick hello to my Starbucks friends and get started on the two pallet truck that is waiting so patiently in the middle of the floor. As I shuffle around the store putting away greens and flowers and who knows what else the shop comes to life. A line of customers each with a story, a reason for which they need flowers. I help one customer after another…all buying flowers for a school play. Nothing all that interesting.
I go on about my business putting items away when a middle aged man with soft gray eyes and a nervous look approached my counter. Figuring it was just another parent buying flowers for their kid, I wrapped his flowers silently. Not much of a story I assumed. "I need help picking out a card" he says. "I hate when people ask that…" I thought to myself. "How should I know what card fits this man's story?" I put a smile on and ask "What's the occasion?" Much to my surprise it's a dinner date. Not a school play after all! Finally someone with a story! Maybe this day won't be as drab as I once assumed. I suggest a few cards wondering if maybe he will elaborate. "It can't say 'I love you'" he says. "We haven't told each other that yet, but I think it's going to happen tonight! I know that's how I feel!" My heart instantly warms and turns to mush. "Why not pick a blank one and write whatever you'd like to tell her" I suggest. He likes the idea and proceeds to pick one out. As I continue wrapping his flowers and finishing his order I wonder how they met. I mumble on about how I hope his date goes well. " I love working floral for the stories" I tell him. He gives me a sheepish smile. "I have quite a story of my own" he replies. I break out in a grin hoping this was an invitation to listen.
He continues to chatter, "My story starts like this; what you don't know about me is that I have had a heart condition for many years. The doctors told me I had a leaky valve and that within some years I would need a transplant. I was disheartened. I always attributed my physically broken heart to my lack of a love life. My heart was literally broken." My smile as I listen to his story instantly fades to a blank stare. The comparison between his literal broken heart and the missing love was ingenious. Something poetic like. At the same time; my own heart aches for this man and I've only just met him. I look on in awe at this man as he continues. "I signed up for a program to go on a hike with many other singles. At the end of the hike you can check your email. It gives you the option to say whether or not you'd like to see someone from the hike . Much to my surprise I had a hit from a woman on the hike. We have been dating three months now. In the meantime I have been striving to exercise more and eat healthier. " I begin to smile again. By now I'm thinking I should really get back to the truck that is now spread out all over in the form of boxes behind my counter. But I have to hear the rest of this man's story. I'm far to intrigued now. I urge him to continue and he does.
"I visited my cardiologist today" he says. "I sat there as the doctor listens to my heart. He looks up with a smile. 'Your heart is not leaking anymore… your heart is healed. You do not need to see me for another year for a routine checkup.' This news came as a shock! My heart was healed! My hard work payed off. But what's more; I'm in love! Now that my heart isn't broken it is capable of love." My mouth has literally dropped now, and my mind is spinning at the sheer wonder of this story. The cold chills I received were enough to make me zip up my hoodie. "You have to come back and tell me how your date goes. I have to hear more of this story" I say. Mind you; I don't typically care enough to say this to most of my customers. When they leave my shop I don't expect to ever hear what happened. But this man; he has left me awe-struck. Speechless! "A story like this has to be written" I told myself. I thought about his story all day…retelling it to everyone I saw. I told myself not to get too excited; he probably wouldn't come back in to tell me more of the story as I had hoped. I left the shop to Alicia that night, after I told her the story of course.
I drove myself home; blasting the music in my car, nothing was louder than the man's story in my head. I walked in the door to my apartment and immediately opened my laptop. I began writing down bits and pieces of the story. I couldn't stop thinking about it. I knew I had to work the shop again the next night. I knew there was no way it could top the day before. So I fell asleep thinking of the man with the once broken heart.
I walked into work the next afternoon; same expectations as the day before. But the man was still on my mind! "I didn't even get his name." I thought. I clocked in hoping this day would fly by as I really didn't want to be here. Alicia stops me on her way out "Oh, The man with the broken heart was here looking for you today. He said something about wanting to follow up with you." My heart dropped. He came in and I missed it. I never believed he'd actually come back to tell me the story. Feeling sorry for myself I moped around wondering what happened on his date. It was a fairly slow night. I sat around making about ten arrangements or more. I was hoping to have the shop looking good for Ms. Judy in the morning. Everyone I worked with was taking turns chatting with me at the counter. It kept the time going by so I didn't tell them to leave. As I sat there chatting with produce and photo I glanced up and caught someone looking at me. It was the man! He'd come back. I excused myself from the conversation I had been previously having and bolted around the corner after him. I finally met up with him at the registers where he motioned me to come over. "My date went well last night." he starts out. "I wanted to come in and follow up since you were so interested the day before." Little does this man know that it was now turning into my first ever story. I'm used to writing poems but stories- well let's just say I never envisioned myself writing one. But this one I couldn't let go. He continues "Yesterday after leaving the cardiologist office I was trying to compose myself. I look at the license plate to the car ahead of mine. It spelled out MNY THX. I looked up and thought 'Ok I'm listening!" I lost it all right there in the car. I was so thankful for the good things that were happening to me. I had almost lost my job of 15 years and was surprise when my job was spared. My health has been regained. And I'm in love." I can feel myself grinning ear to ear right there on the front end of our Kroger store. "I hope you don't mind but your story inspired me. I began a story about you." I say…hoping this doesn't upset him. "You wrote my story? Really? "he asks smiling. "I did, and im hoping to continue it if that's alright with you." I replied. He smiled and Okayed me to continue the story. "I want to bring her in here to meet you Ariana" he says peering at my nametag. "I still don't know his name." I think to myself. "I'd love to meet her. I'd love to continue your story. "I reply. "May I ask your name?" "It's Bill." He replies. "It was so nice to meet you Bill. I look forward to the next time you come in." and with that we walked our separate ways; him out the door to continue his incredible story another day, and me back to my floral counter. I'm stuck inside my head thinking of how grateful I am to have heard such a fantastic story. It only continues from here. This is only chapter one. I look forward to sharing more with you. Until then; goodbye and goodnight.