Fiction / December 2014 (Issue 26)

842 Dongba RD, 6-B, Chaoyang, Beijing, PRC

by Erica Plouffe Lazure

He'd already delivered the bouquet to the wrong address three times that day, and the customer—a thin man in flip-flops—insisted that the right woman receive them; it was her birthday, after all, and he promised to pay double the delivery fees if only the flower shop could find her. How many Ming Xu's could there be in a single city? he demanded, and sent the deliveryman, scrap of address in hand, out to yet another neighbourhood. The bouquet—asters and lilies, deep irises and resplendent roses once rigid with refrigerated water—wilted a bit with the humid spring air, but on the fourth try, the right Ming Xu, six floors up in a dim-lit apartment above the Hongshilong Supermarket, opened the door. He knew it was the right Ming Xu because she burst into tears upon reading the name on the card. Her husband stood behind her, arms akimbo, and when he picked the fallen bouquet from the welcome mat and read the name, he slammed the door to muffle his rising voice. Tipless, the deliveryman lit a cigarette as he walked down the six flights of stairs, and continued to smoke as he rode his bicycle back to the florist to confirm that this time, he did, indeed, find the right address.


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