Ash knocked on the door of the Unnamed Flower Shop. He turned the knob and found it unlocked despite the closed sign hanging in the window. “Is that you, Ash?” Connie Tuber asked. Several things that had been on display outside when the store was opened had been pulled just inside the door and she was hidden from view. He stepped around a ladder that had pots of different cactus on each step. There was Connie behind the cash register. “Here to take your pictures?” She asked.
“Yes ma’am,” Ash answered. “Thanks so much for letting me.”
Connie laughed. She was a beautiful woman even in what had to be her early seventies. Her silver hair was pulled back in a bun, she wasn’t wearing even a trace of makeup but her brown eyes twinkled and her smile welcomed. “As if it is not an honor to be photographed by Ash Bellerose,” she said. “What are you planning on shooting?”
“I want to do that back room with all the buckets of flowers. I think I can make it look like a flower market background for a posed set I need.”
“Right through there,” she pointed at a door. “Keep going back through doors until you get there. You don’t need me to show you, do you?”
“No, I’ll find my way. Where’s…” Ash broke off. He knew her name because he had heard Connie call to her over the years he had been coming here but no one had ever introduced them.
“You mean Misty?” Connie asked. Her eyes twinkled just a little bit more and her lips turned up slightly. “Oh she’s around.”
Misty; now there was a beautiful woman, Ash thought as he went through the first door. Since he first saw her ten years ago he had come back once or twice a year to do shoots that he had deliberately staged here. Shoots that required lots of flowers; flowers that he went to get himself, never sending assistants or interns.
This last shoot was supposed to end days ago but he couldn’t seem to bring himself to leave and he kept finding more work that needed to be done right here.
He opened another door but it wasn’t the right room. He looked across at a third door and headed for it.
Misty had changed her look many times over the years. This time she was so beautiful that he almost fainted when he first saw her. Her hair was long and silver and she wore loose flowing skirts and short light airy blouses and she looked so sexy he had trouble remembering his name.
He didn’t know what was inspiring the latest transition but he hoped it wasn’t love for another man. No one had ever died from lost opportunities but Ash swore if Misty had become out of reach in that way, he just might perish from regret.
He had photographed many women over the years. Some had asked him. Some he had asked. For some reason, he could never bring himself to ask her. Or even to speak to her really.
He turned the knob on the third door and stepped into the room. This was it. Buckets of flowers were everywhere. He knew the name of roses, all the rest was just a blur of color and scent. He stepped off into the corner of the room and lifted his camera to check out the view.
The door opened and Misty walked in. His camera stopped halfway up his chest along with his breath. His mouth dropped open and his eyes widened. She moved to a table in the middle of the room and took off her sweater. She had on a long flowing rose print skirt and a rose colored blouse. The amazing thing was the blouse had no back. It was tied around her neck and again under her shoulder blades with thin little straps that left her back bare. He instinctively picked up his camera and shot a picture. She had her hair up in a style with a braid around her head and gold stick things holding up the back leaving her neck also bare. He shot another picture as, back still to him, unaware that he was there; she started to take her hair down.
He realized this was wrong. He should say something. He should stop taking pictures. When her hair was down, it cascaded down her bare back in silver waves like the waterfall he had come upon unexpectedly the last time he was in Alaska. He had reached out his hand to the waterfall and let the water flow over his fingers. He so desperately wanted to put his hands in that hair; to feel it flowing through his fingers like the water from the waterfall.
He steeled himself to say something but before he could, she reached across and turned on an ipod sitting on a docking station on the table. Music came out loud and it took him a second to place it. Jerry Garcia started singing and he heard the words China Cat Sunflower. That was the name of the song. Meanwhile Misty started humming and swaying to the music. Unable to resist, he switched his camera to video.
At first he thought he was seeing things. As she swayed, lost in the song, petals started dancing around her head. The music got more intense and she kicked off her shoes and started twirling around with more energy. There was no mistaking it. The petals of the flowers in the buckets were lifting off and flowing toward Misty. Soon she was dancing in a cascade of petals as thick as stars in the milky way and twice as beautiful. Color was everywhere. Petals were everywhere. She was dancing on a carpet of petals. Petals were twirling around her head. Petals had formed bracelets around her wrists and ankles.
In her dancing frenzy she turned towards him. He drew in a sharp breath but she didn’t see him. She was oblivious in her ecstasy. Her arms were lifted, her body swayed and her whole being radiated light. There was a soft, sweet smile on her kissable lips and her eyes were closed. China Cat Sunflower had flowed into I Know You Rider and the Grateful Dead were playing the final notes.
Ash’s heart pounded and he was sure she could hear it. Any second now she would open her eyes and see him. He knew she was a very private person which was part of why he had never asked her permission to photograph her.
She turned back to the ipod, reached across and pushed the off button. Then she slid her shoes back on, picked her sweater up and headed back out the door.
All without seeing Ash.
Ash slid to the floor and sat down, his legs unable to hold him up. What just happened? Did that just happen? And what if his film was no good? What if he hadn’t gotten any footage and that beautiful moment was lost to him forever? The thought of that loss was a weight on his chest that felt familiar and old. He realized he was gasping for air and if he didn’t stop he was going to hyperventilate.
He had reached calm and then another thought came in on a wave of new panic: what if the pictures and film were good? Then what? Then he had images of a very private dance of a very beautiful woman that was not meant for him. He felt like a peeping tom, a stalker.
The more he sat and breathed in and out and calmed himself down, the clearer it became. No matter what he was not going to give up those images; not the pictures, not the video. He would figure the details out later but that much was crystal clear.
He got up off the floor and started heading out the doors.
Misty was nowhere to be seen.
Connie was still in the front behind the counter. “Get what you wanted?” She asked.
Ash stopped walking. How did he answer that? He hadn’t gotten a flower market background because all the petals were off of all the flowers in all the buckets by the time Misty’s dance was over. But he had certainly got something he wanted.
“Actually I had some trouble with my camera,” he said. “Could I come back and try again tomorrow?”
“Sure,” Connie said. “Come early. I’ll call you when the delivery truck gets here then all the buckets will be full of fresh flowers. Do you have a business card with your phone number?”
Ash nodded wordlessly. He pulled a business card out of his shirt pocket and handed it to her. “My cell phone is written on the back,” he said. “Feel free to call me but don’t give it out.” He turned to walk away.
He stopped again and turned back around. “Except to…” He started to say Misty but stopped himself just in time. What in the hell was wrong with him?
“Except for? Who?” Connie asked. Her voice was laced with laughter and she was watching him intently.
“No one. Nevermind. See you tomorrow, Connie. And thanks again.”
Ash walked out the door and inhaled deeply. He waited for his head to clear but it didn’t appear to be happening anytime soon.
If only the whole book would flow out as easily as this!
Created a pinterest board for this scene called Mystical's Dance. May change if I start real work on the book. Here it is for now.
Do you want to read more? Do you care why Ash is so intense about taking pictures? Do you care what made Misty dance?