The botany of a marriage – fiction by Yang Huang
As soon as I set foot in the nursery’s garden I find the auspicious flower: a red double peony. Its huge blossoms burst forth as if brimming over with rose-red joy. I stand in awe, while the store clerk tells me its strong stems never fall, even in the harshest weather. Its name, Old Faithful, makes it perfect for my home, as my husband and I are going to have our thirtieth wedding anniversary in two weeks.
“Yes,” I say.
I carry the potted peony to the storefront. My husband is talking to a young woman with a fluffy, chrysanthemum-like hairdo. “Can you give me a hand?” I call out to him. The woman glances at me, backs away into the crowd, and boards the bus.
My husband takes my heavy pot and clamps it onto the back seat of his bike. “You scared away some business,” he tells me with a smile.
“What sort of business?”
“The bawdy kind.” He crisscrosses the pot with a nylon rope and fastens a dead knot. “I’m pretty sure she was a prostitute.”