I stopped.

“Turn around.”

There were only a few co-workers who I let get away with using my nickname. The person attached to the voice was one of them. I turned around … shocked to see him holding a flower, clasped in grease-stained fingers.

It didn’t look any cleaner when I reached out to take the blue hydrangea, my fingernails etched permanently with gear oil.

“See that you sister reads the card.”

My shoulders slumped. Of course it would be for her. He hadn’t let go of the stem yet, and I raised my eyes. His gaze intently fixed on mine.

I nodded, transfixed. He released the flower and my quizzical stare.

At my apartment, where my sister was co-habitating until she found the right place, or more like the right next ex-boyfriend, her crystal blue contacts gleamed with delight.

“Oh!” she exclaimed. “Which of your mechanic buddies is admiring me now?”

They only did so because she insisted on bringing me lunch at least once a week and then seating her preened self among the blue-collared laborers and myself, with no less blue in my own uniform top.

Taking the flower, tossing it over her head, intending for it to perhaps land on the couch behind her, she held the envelope between two, French-manicured nails. Another exclamation as she opened the pouch.

I rolled my eyes.

She read aloud, crooning, “I should be flattered by your request, but, when it comes to your family … ” her tune descended its pitch, “I’m not interested in you.”

Part of me questioned, if not her then who, and considered the intent stare by those vivid, grass-green eyes, but another part saw what looked like real pain, anguish even, on my sister’s face. Being a first rejection I’d ever witnessed of my sister, I had to explore, “How’s it feel?”

“It stings,” she whispered, her eyes unfocused but directed at the card.

Knowing I shouldn’t crow, I tried to wipe the smug smirk off my mouth.

“Stop that.” She put on her best petulant look, though it had little effect on me. “Paper cuts are no laughing matter.” The card dropped as she nursed her injured finger.

My shoulders slumped for the second time that day but not as far as the first time. My sis might not have learned anything, but, thinking back to the original flower hand-off, I sure had.

*Inspired by a prompt from @200WordTuesdays though this was an extended version.

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