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like a sunflower on a warm summer's day

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Emily, like most young girls, loved flowers. Not in the way her sister did, no, she didn't just like them when gifted to her by handsome young men - she loved them all, no matter the kind, no matter the color, no matter how she discovered them. (Usually in her backyard or books.)

Which was why when she discovered there would be a flower shop opening in town, she was ecstatic. Overjoyed, really.

"You want money... for flowers?" her father asked. "We have plenty of flowers... in the yard."

Emily pressed her lips together. "I could be doing something much worse than admiring pretty flowers, father," she remarked, staring at him. He stared back.

Finally, he admitted defeat. "Just be back for supper, okay?"

Beaming, she accepted the money and ran out of the house, grabbing her coat.

/

The flower shop wasn't booming, exactly. Most people only bought flowers for two things: wedding and funerals. Thankfully, weddings weren't too common and neither were funerals. In the heat of summer, at least.

Emily walked into the small shop and immediately felt-- at peace, maybe, the smell of fresh flowers, the beauty of them. Biting her bottom lip, she glanced around but spotted no one - no customers or employees.

Shrugging, she started looking through the flowers.

So many she had never seen or even heard of; bright blues and calming oranges.

"Do you need help?"

Emily startled, scrambling away from a pot of bright yellow sunflowers. "Um."

She turned her head toward the intruder, and paused.

It was a young girl, probably her age, with light brown hair tied back and pretty, warm eyes. She was wearing a fairly plain blue dress but what really caught Emily's attention was the stained white apron tied around her waist.

"Did you need any help?" the girl repeated, not unkindly.

Emily blinked once and shook her head. "Just, uh - looking. You know, browsing."

"Looking for anything in particular?" the girl continued anyway, the corners of her mouth quirking up. "Like for a wedding, maybe?"

Emily flushed and quickly cleared her throat. "Definitely not."

"Okay," the girl nodded, looking away and peering at a pot of beautiful dark flowers. "A... funeral, then?" she asked, a bit softer.

The way she said it - the way she stared at those flowers - made Emily want to wrap her up in a blanket and protect her from the mean, cruel world. As if she had any right to do such a thing when she didn't even know her name. 

"I'm Emily!" she blurted suddenly. "And, uh... you are?"

The girl looked back. She smiled warmly. "Susan, but I prefer Sue."

"Sue is pretty," Emily replied without missing a beat.

Sue stared at her for an awkwardly long, silent moment. Finally, she looked away and swept some hair out of her face.

"Um, I think I'll take a few of these," Emily announced, gesturing at the sunflowers.

"Wonderful," Sue replied and grabbed the pot, turning away. "Follow me."

Emily watched as she walked away - toward the counter - and smacked herself in the face.

Real smooth, Emily Dickinson.