One sunny day, the business was pretty slow at my flower shop. I had been waiting for customers for hours and I almost dozed off when suddenly someone came into the shop.
“Aunty, I want to pre-order a lot of flowers.” A young voice pulled me back from my half-sleepy state, drawing my eyes to a thin little boy who was standing beside me. His face was pale but he had a big smile on his face. His big, round eyes blinked at me.
Could I pre-order 60 years’ worth of flower bouquets?” He raised his head and asked me. After hearing his words, I nearly burst with laughter as I had never heard of anyone who wants to pre-order flowers for 60 years. “I want to pre-order a bunch of flower bouquets, mainly carnations for the next 60 years to be delivered on September 22nd. Is it possible?”. He smiled after he asked me.
“I want to give these flowers as a birthday present to my mother and September 22nd is her birthday. My mother is 40 years old now and she may live until 100 years of age, so I would like to pre-order 60 years worth of flowers. After that, you need to help me deliver a bouquet of fresh carnations to my mother on every September 22nd. This would make my mother feel happy and blessed.” The little boy told me in just one breath. Such a pure child!Out of curiosity, I asked him why. “Why do you want to pre-order 60 years of flowers? My florist might not be opened for that long! Could you come and book once every year?”
“No, I couldn’t. I need to pre-order 60 years of flowers. If your florist closed down, please get another florist to continue to send these flowers.” The boy answered thoughtfully.
“Please tell me the total cost of the flowers.” The boy said with a serious tone.
I was afraid that this child was pulling a prank on me. This was a pre-order of 60-years worth of flowers. Children are always playful, aren’t they?
I replied after thinking carefully, “Let me think….Ok, the total cost would be $30 dollars. How far is your home from my florist?”“It’s very close by, my home is just opposite the road. Here is a $100 bill. 60 years is a long time and who knows when inflation hits, the price of flowers will increase.” As he spoke, the boy pulled out a $100 dollar bill from his pocket. I was surprised by the way he spoke.
His might be eleven or twelve years old but he spoke like an adult!
The boy then gave me the $100 bill and wrote down his address on a piece of paper. “This is my address. Please remember to deliver the flowers to my home.” He handed the paper with his crooked handwriting on it. “You need to tell me your mother’s name”, I said to him.He nodded his little head, smiled and replied, “My mother’s name is very nice. Her name is Catherine and I am Toby.”
While I was taking note of his mother’s name, the boy said, “Right, it is July now and my mother’s birthday is in two months time. Please remember to deliver a bouquet of carnations to my home.”Thank you aunty! Remember to deliver them this year, next year, the coming year until the 60th year!” Toby said in his tiny, cute voice. As he walked out of my shop, I thought to myself, what a cute boy he is!
The next day, Little Toby came again to remind me. “Don’t forget to deliver my mother a bouquet of flowers on September 22nd”. I smiled and replied, “Don’t worry, I will not forget.”,“When you deliver the flowers, could you please wish my mother ‘Happy Birthday’?” He asked me.
I slowly grabbed his small hands and told him: “Aunty promise you.”
I had to assure him that I would remember to send the flowers to his mother quite a few times before he made his way out of the shop.
As he walked out, I noticed a big smile on his face.The third day, Toby came again to my shop. There was a big art block on his back and his small hands were full with a big stationary box. “Aunty, could I draw a portrait of you?”.
I was surprised and confused by his request. Toby may have noticed my puzzled face as he further said “Aunty, thank you for promising to deliver flowers to my mother. I cannot give you anything in return but I could draw a portrait of you and give it to you as a present. I have been drawing for the past six years and it would be a very beautiful portrait.” Little Toby looked at me eagerly while waiting for my answer.I looked at my watch. I’ve got spare time as it was not a busy time at the shop at that moment. Even though it was quite an odd request, I said yes to Toby. I sat down comfortably for Toby to draw my portrait.
Despite of his tender age, Toby was very good at drawing and it only took 30 minutes for him to finish drawing my portrait. I took it and had a look at it. “Wow! It looks just like me!” I said in utter surprise. Satisfied with my reply, Little Toby walked away with a big smile on his face. He reminded me again not to forget our deal.
On the fourth day, I expected Little Toby to come by like he had for the past three days but he never came on that day. I was curious and felt a bit disappointed. “Maybe Little Toby is busy today and he will drop by tomorrow.”