Two Kinds Of Truth

Two Kinds Of Truth

Lynette Creswell

Chapter 1


I grab the phone from its cradle and balance it against my ear.

“Hello…yes, you’ve reached The Budding Florist. How can I help?” I wave my hand in the air, trying to get Keira’s attention. When I catch her eye, I gesture for a pen. “Yes, that’s fine, and no, it’s not a problem.”

With the cheap Biro Keira offers, I scribble down the customer’s details.

“Sure, we can do a mixed bouquet for that amount, and yes, delivery is included.”

I swing around to stare at the calendar pinned on the wall behind me.

“Uh-huh. You said the twenty fifth of February? Yes, that gives us plenty of time. Thank you and you’re most welcome.”

I replace the handset onto the receiver.

“Is that yet another satisfied customer?” Keira asks.

I nod. “Yes, and that makes four bouquets in less than an hour.”

“If we carry on like this, I’ll have to take another trip to the wholesalers,” Keira says.

I glance down at the pad and rip off the top sheet of paper. “I’ll go and make a start on the flower arrangements. If I don’t prep soon, we’ll be here until midnight.”

Clutching a reel of red ribbon in one hand, I grab a small handful of message cards with the other. As I visualise chopping one long-stemmed rose after another, the shop bell jangles and I turn around, a light smile on my face, a friendly greeting perched on the tip of my tongue. The customer approaches the counter, but I say nothing, letting my smile slide from my lips when I notice her large swollen belly. The woman catches my stare and strokes her tummy with obvious affection.

“I’ve only got a few weeks left before he arrives,” she explains with a grin. “Although, if he carries on kicking me as though I’m a football, I’ll be glad to see him sooner rather than later,” and she chuckles at her own joke, but her laughter dies away as I continue to stare.

“Is everything okay?” she asks, and a puzzled expression replaces her smile.

I lick my lips, but find I cannot form any words in response, then break eye contact and drop the red ribbon and message cards onto the counter. My fingers reach out for the cellophane wrapping instead, and I fiddle with the hinge, pretending the roll has come loose.

From somewhere behind me, Keira clears her throat.

“I’ll help with this customer, Maddie. Why don’t you go and sort out those arrangements?”

Keira pushes past me. “Is there anything specific you’re looking for? Only we’ve got some beautiful orchids just in, and the yellow and purple Peruvian lilies are exceptional.”

The woman’s gaze falls onto Kiera, and although she hesitates, she follows her to where several aluminium buckets hold an assortment of fresh flowers.

“I’ll just be out the back,” I rasp, and without waiting for a reply, head straight for the toilet, slamming the door behind me and sliding the tiny silver bolt across the wooden frame. Standing in front of the pedestal sink, I look into the mirror. Tears burst from my eyes and the salty liquid streams down my cheeks, an explosive pain in my chest refusing to go away. Nestling my head in my hands, I allow my heart to break yet again as that nagging question continues to bounce around inside my head, over and over: Why me?

There’s a gentle knock on the door, which stops me short.

“I’m going to put the kettle on, and then I’ll help you with those arrangements,” Keira whispers. I take a few deep breaths to steady my nerves, eventually managing to calm down, then I grab a handful of toilet roll and wipe the last stream of tears away.

I let myself out of the tiny cloakroom and make my way to the kitchenette, blinking away the last of my tears as I join Keira.

“I’m so sorry,” I whisper, “I don’t know what came over me. It’s just…”

Keira rushes forward and puts her arms around me. “Shhhhh, there’s nothing to be sorry for,” she soothes. “After what you’ve been through it’s hardly surprising you acted the way you did. It’s only been a few weeks since the IVF failed again; what did you expect?”

Her embrace is warm and I feel safe and secure within her arms. With some reluctance, I pull away and wipe my nose with what’s left of the sodden tissue.

“I know, but I thought I could handle it. But then, seeing that woman just now, made all the misery come flooding back.”

“Come on, give yourself a break,” Keira insists, and raises her hand to lift my chin gently towards her face. My sapphire-blue eyes lock onto Keira’s brown-eyed stare. “You and Callum have suffered so much, and in such a short space of time.”

I turn my face away and stare at the wall, concentrating on the ugly dark stain from last year’s burst pipe, and shake my head in despair. It cost a fortune to fix and the wall could do with a lick of paint.

“Are you even listening to me?”

“Huh? Sorry…What?”

Keira heaves a sigh. “Maddie, I really do think it’s too soon for you to come back to work. I know you insisted but look what’s just happened.”

I stuff my hands into my jeans pockets and give her my best attempt at a smile. “So, where’s this tea, then?” and I glance towards the kettle.

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