Purple Flowers; Or, How To Get Your Best Friend To Forgive You

       G. Wulfing
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Purple Flowers; Or, How To Get Your Best Friend To Forgive You
Published by G. Wulfing at Smashwords
Copyright 2017 G. Wulfing

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Table of contents:
Purple Flowers; Or, How To Get Your Best Friend To Forgive You
About G. Wulfing

Purple Flowers;
How To Get Your Best Friend To Forgive You

As she came downstairs, heading for the kitchen, Sophia heard laughter in the front hall. Her younger brother and his best friend had evidently returned from the cinema.
In the kitchen, Sophia filled the electric kettle and switched it on to boil. The guys were still in the hall, laughing hugely. The movie must have been hilarious, Sophia thought to herself. She selected a mug from the kitchen drawer, and then, perplexed by so much laughter, approached the hall, still clutching the mug by its handle.
Her brother Jay, dark haired and blue eyed, was leaning his back against one wall, almost weeping with laughter. Supporting himself with one outstretched hand pressed against the opposite wall, his complexion pink with mirth beneath his light brown hair, was Jonathan, who had been Jay’s best friend for so long that Sophia regarded him as a sort of adoptive cousin.
“Was the movie that good?” she asked them.
“No,” Jonathan told her, catching his breath momentarily; “I mean, it was, but that’s not what we’re laughing about.”
Sophia looked from one to the other. “Well, what was so funny? You look like you’re about to collapse.”
“As we were coming out of the cinema –” Jay began.
“‘Coming out’!” Jonathan giggled.
Jay snorted with fresh laughter, and Sophia had to wait a moment while he recovered.
“As we were exiting the cinema,” he resumed, “we saw this little girl dropping leaves into the gutter, one by one, with this really serious, focussed look on her face, and Jonathan leaned over and whispered in my ear, ‘Soon my death-ray will be complete!’” – both boys giggled “– which was a line from the movie, you see, and it was so funny …” Jay took a breath. “So we were standing there, trying not to show that we were laughing, because we didn’t want the little girl to be weirded out by two strangers standing there laughing at her, you see; and there was a lady standing nearby, – about Mum’s age, maybe; and she looked at us strangely –”
“Queerly, even!” Jonathan cackled.
Jay gasped with laughter, sliding his back down the wall until he was sitting on the hallway floor. “Stoppit, you idiot … I’m trying to tell her …”
Sophia raised her eyebrows, with a slight, patient sigh, beginning to smile at the guys’ mirth even before she knew what the joke was.
“And Jay said something about the human race being brought to its knees by the power of the death-dealing deciduous leaf,” Jonathan added, while Jay recovered somewhat.
“Okay,” Jay resumed, “so we’re standing there, sort of sniggering and whispering together but trying not to look like we’re sniggering –”
“Sniggering in each other’s ears,” Jonathan supplied.
“Right; and this lady was looking at us strangely, and then she leaned in closer and said –” Jay took a deep breath to stop himself subsiding back into laughter – “‘I hope you don’t mind my asking, but – are you two “together”?’”
Jonathan giggled anew, holding his abdomen with one hand while the other covered his mouth to keep himself from interrupting Jay’s story.
“And we looked at her blankly, and then we both realised what she meant … She was asking if … she was asking if we were in a gay relationship! And so Jonathan …”
“I put my arm around his neck,” Jonathan said, through his laughter, “and kissed him on the cheek, and said –”
Jay roared with laughter on the hallway floor, knowing what was coming next. 

“– ‘Why? Are you jealous?’”
Sophia cackled gleefully.
“And the look on her face … it was just a beautiful moment.” Jay held up his hand, and Jonathan leaned down to high-five it.
“Totally worth being temporarily gay for,” Jonathan agreed.
“What business was it of hers?” Sophia asked rhetorically.
“Exactly,” Jonathan agreed. “What kind of question is that to ask a couple of total strangers?”
“But it did give us an awesome story to tell.” Jay wiped his eyes with the heel of his hand, almost hiccupping in the aftermath of his mirth.
Jonathan reached out his hand, Jay grasped it, and Jonathan pulled him to his feet.
“What did she say after you asked her if she was jealous?” inquired Sophia.
“Well, she looked a bit flustered, and said, ‘Oh, no, I was just asking; terribly sorry’ and she moved away,” Jonathan told her.
“I think you might have freaked her out a bit,” Jay commented.
“Well, what did she expect? She shouldn’t ask a personal question if she doesn’t want an answer.”
Jay nodded his agreement, still wiping his eyes, and gave a hiccup.
“Were you laughing like that all the way home?” Sophia inquired, leading the way slowly back into the kitchen.
Jonathan chuckled. “No; we couldn’t look at each other, ’cause we knew that once we started laughing we wouldn’t be able to stop.”
“I had to concentrate so hard on keeping my eyes on the road,” Jay giggled.
“I was sitting there biting my lip,” grinned Jonathan. “I knew that if I gave so much as a snigger, we’d never make it, because you’d crash the car or something; or if we started laughing before we got into the car we’d never make it because we’d collapse in the street and people would think we were crazy …”
Jonathan and Jay sagged into kitchen chairs, and Sophia re-boiled the kettle, adding extra water for the guys. “Have a nice, soothing cup of tea,” she advised them, tongue in cheek. “It’ll help to settle your nerves.”
“Our nerves are fine,” said Jonathan cheerfully. “I haven’t laughed so much in ages.”
“Exactly; you might strain something if you keep going,” Sophia teased.
“Good point,” Jonathan conceded. He indicated Jay who was in the chair beside him. “And he’s just been kissed on the cheek by a really hot guy, so he’s probably feeling a bit over-excited.” He dropped his voice to a half-whisper on the last words, like a nurse discreetly discussing with another nurse a patient who was within hearing.
Jay shoved Jonathan’s shoulder in token protest, but he was still weak from mirth.
Sophia nodded sagely, controlling the smirk that was pulling at her mouth. “Quite so, quite so. We’ll make it chamomile tea. It calms the nerves.”
Jay hiccupped.

* * *

On the Friday after next, Jay drove himself to the honey factory as usual. Sticking labels on plastic jars of honey and packing them into boxes before sealing the boxes and stacking them in another room ready for transportation was mind-numbingly boring, but it was a paid job, and Jay was prepared to stick with it and keep earning money until he decided on a career or a course of study.
Jay had quickly learned to keep his thoughts to himself at this place. His co-workers were opinionated enough for twice their number, and were quick to voice thoughts that Jay thought may or may not have been appropriate for a work environment. He supposed that talking about anything and everything – whether or not you were knowledgeable on the subject – was their method of quelling the boredom. Forty-something Quentin was hard working, but macho to the point of crassness, and seemed to be homophobic. Thirty-something Fiona was a man-hunter who occasionally made Jay blush with the inappropriateness of her comments – a fact that Jay was always careful to obscure, as he sensed that he would be teased over it. Twenty-five-year-old Dee rarely seemed to think before she blithely opened her mouth. And so on. As one of the youngest workers at the factory, Jay sometimes thought that the older packers seemed quite jaded. There was not a lot of positivity in the room.
Since all the packers worked in one room, there was no escape and no way of silencing his workmates, so Jay soon found that the best way to deal with it was to often retreat into his own thoughts and let his workmates’ chatter and criticisms wash over him as he quietly kept working. Naturally, this earned him the reputation of being ‘the quiet one’, and occasionally one or more of the other packers would try to verbally prod a reaction out of him. When this happened, Jay kept his responses brief, blandly polite, and uninflammatory, until the other packers gave up or got distracted and he was left alone again.
The talking didn’t stop at lunchtime. Most of the workers stopped for lunch together, and there was only one lunchroom, so Jay’s quietness often lasted until he got home and could be himself again. It was tiresome, but Jay focussed on the work and on the money he was earning and chose to be patient and not to dwell on the irritating aspects of the job. It was a means to an end: this would not be his work forever.
At lunchtime on Friday, Jay and the other packers were eating at the same table, as usual. Jay had found that trying to
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