Ricky Beck was taking an obscenely long time to choose the corsage. Rosie tried to be patient, she tried to remember that this was a big decision for Ricky, and she tried very hard to not sigh audibly when he asked to see the same flowers over and over again.
“What do you think, Rosie?” Ricky looked at her. “You’re a girl; which would you like?”
Rosie blinked and pointed to the roses. All of these boys seemed to think that Rosie’s taste in flowers would be automatically duplicated in their girlfriends on prom night. Ricky paid for his flowers and left.
Rosie shook her head and rolled her eyes. She hated helping the prom customers, but her parents sent her out everytime a teenager came in. “You can help them so much better than us, Rosie. You know what the kids like these days.” (Apparently everyone trusted Rosie’s judgement about corsages and boutonnieres.) “That’s me,” she said aloud. “Your seventeen-year-old flower consultant.” She sighed. “Get all your prom flower advice, right here.” She started putting away the samples she had brought out for Ricky’s benefit.
Her mother came in. “Another prom sale?” She asked, nodding at the samples.
Mrs. Gardiner made a note in her order book. “That’s 23, so far.” She shook her head, “It’s a good thing you’re going to be able to help us get all these done. We wouldn’t be able to finish them without you.” She squeezed Rosie’s shoulders and went upstairs, where the family lived.
Rosie finished putting the flowers away, glad that prom would be over next week and she could be done dragging them out. She went to the worktable in the back to fill some more of the corsage orders. “I hate making corsages,” she muttered. Daisy was supposed to be doing this, but Rosie’s older sister couldn’t come in to help with the prom rush. Finals were coming, she said, and she needed the weekend to study. Studying came first in the Gardiner family, so Daisy stayed at school. Mari couldn’t help either. Rosie’s little sister was only nine.
Rosie knew her parents couldn’t afford to hire a worker to help with the extra business, nor could they afford to say no to potential customers. So she did what had to be done. She told her parents that she could help; she didn’t really want to go to prom, anyway, she said. Her classmates were all superficial and immature, acting like this one night was extremely important.
Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner told Rosie that they would manage and that she should still go, but Rosie could tell they were relieved by her offer. If Rosie didn’t go, there would be no extra dress expense, either. Rosie insisted and repeated her reasons. Her parents thanked her, proud to have such a responsible daughter.
Rosie sighed again. She wanted to go to prom.
“This one’s pretty,” Mari had come in, unnoticed, and was about to pick up an arrangement.
“Marigold! Don’t!” Rosie yelled, too late. Mari had picked up a corsage that was arranged, but not fastened together. Individual flowers fell to the floor.
“Mom, there’s a corsage here without an order slip.” Rosie called upstairs. “Do you know whose it is?”
“I’m not sure, dear,” Mrs. Gardiner called down. “Bring it up, and let me look at it.”
“Fine,” Rosie mounted the stairs. Today was the prom, in two hours actually. Soon the boys would start coming to pick up their dates’ corsages. Rosie had just finished making the last of them, had just finished organizing them, and had just finished cleaning the flower shop. She wanted this day to be over.
“I’m in your room, Rosie.” Rosie followed her mother’s voice, annoyed that her mother was in her room. But as she came through her doorway, she stopped.
Lying on her bed was a blue prom dress. Marigold was sitting beside it, holding some matching shoes. Mrs. Gardiner took the corsage from Rosie and compared it to the order slip in her hand, “Oh,” she said, “I had the order slip for this corsage all along. Here you go, dear.” She gave Rosie the slip, kissed her on the forehead, and left.
Rosie looked at the slip. The order description was written in her mother’s handwriting: “A corsage to match a blue dress. Made especially for the girl who wanted to go to the prom, but chose to stay to help her family. Have fun! (You deserve it.)”