A Delivery Most Fowl


On Saturday, I took my profession’s official Praxis exam. Woo! Meanwhile, I’m also starting a summer course with a fair amount of scientific reading. I took a mini-break from creative writing to study and keep on top of my course readings. But enough studying! Let’s get to writing!

This story can to me Sunday night while I was trying to fall asleep. I’ve never actually seen the Miss Marple movie, Murder Most Foul, but I have seen the Castle episode, A Murder Most Fowl. They must’ve been on my mind because suddenly “A delivery most fowl” got stuck in my head. However, the story’s more directly inspired by Kiki’s Delivery Service. I actually really like the characters I have here and am already thinking of further adventures for them. Hopefully, other people will like them too.

——————-

A Merlin. Photo from The Cornell Lab of Ornithography. Photo by Glenn Bartley.
A (female) Merlin. Photo from The Cornell Lab of Ornithography. Photo by Glenn Bartley.

Aurora laid the flower bouquets out on her work table and counted the number of deliveries she had. Seven birthdays, two anniversaries, two graduations, one funeral. On her old wall map, she plotted each delivery address with a silver push pin. The locations were scattered across the city and she sighed once she realized that not a single one was close to another, and none were close to her floral shop. She’d have to close the shop down to get everything delivered in time.

“Morning, Aurora!” Walter strode into her work room, toothy smile dominating his sun-baked face. Like always, he had his canvas satchel thrown over  his shoulder and his broom hanging from a leather strap on his back. “You got a lot of bouquets today.”

“I do. All of them need to be delivered before lunch.” She frowned. “Saturday mornings are always the best days for in-shop sales. I hope I don’t lose any costumers while I’m out getting these delivered.”

“Why would you lose sales?” Walter leaned against the work table and flicked at the petals of an iris wrapped in parchment.

“I won’t have anyone to watch the store while I’m out.”

“Hey, you don’t have to shut down the store. Tiercel and I can deliver them,” he smiled, pulling his broom off his back. He shoved two fingers in his mouth and whistled. Aurora heard a tingle of her welcome bell as the shop door blew open. Seconds later, a little Merlin hawk fluttered in and landed on the edge of her potted begonias. Tiercel screeched and flapped his wings

“Walter, I appreciate the offer,” Aurora said as she eyed the bird that didn’t look big enough to carry a singe rose, let alone several dozen of them, “But I think it’ll be easier to take care of them myself.”

“Aw, come on. I won’t even charge you.”

“Really, it’s fine.” She gathered up the twelve bouquets and marched to the front of the store. Walter followed her, holding onto his broom as Tiercel flapped to his shoulder. He frowned as she flipped the OPEN/CLOSED sign.

“Afraid I’ll loose a package?” he muttered. “Because I’ve never once lost or broken a package and I’ve never been late. You know I’m the best at what I do.”

“I know you’re a great delivery boy–”

“Delivery man,” Walter said, hitching up his pants with overcompensating swagger.

“Delivery man,” Aurora said with an eye-roll. “But flowers are delicate and you fly too fast.”

“Tiercel and I can adjust our speeds. How many do you have? Twelve? Look they’re way too much for you.” Walter had to give her a hand as several of the heavier bouquets slipped. “And it’ll take you way to long to drop them off on foot.”

“I won’t be on foot,” Aurora insisted. She held the bouquets tight and looked around. It was still early enough on Saturday that only a few shoppers were mulling along the cobble street. She handed the bouquets to Walter. Carefully she slipped off her white cardigan. Walter’s jaw dropped as her butterfly wings unfurled behind her. The yellow and orange marbling attracted the attention of everyone on the street. Aurora blushed and took the flowers back.

“I forgot you had those,” Walter marveled. Then he snapped his fingers. “What if we had a contest? You deliver six bouquets, me and Tiercel deliver six bouquets. If you win, I’ll…” He held a finger to his chin in thought. “I’ll buy one-hundred roses and pass them out with my regular deliveries as free publicity for your shop.”

“I like that idea,” Aurora smiled, but she still resisted when Walter reached for her flowers. She flicked her wing to make him step backward. “And what if you win?”

“If I win.” Aurora raised an eyebrow at his sly grin. “If I win, then I’ll take you out to lunch at your favorite restaurant. We’ll get take-out and I’ll fly you to your favorite place in the entire world for a picnic.”

“How-how is that a prize for you?” Aurora stammered. She felt her face burn as she fumbled with the bouquets. Walter laughed when he reached out to catch them.

“Trust me, it is. So do we have  a race?”

“Wait just a second.” Aurora ran inside. With an armful of her bouquets, Walter waited patiently while Tiercel kneaded his shoulder. As he thought about where Aurora might have him fly her, his smirk and reddening cheeks betrayed his embarrassment. Tiercel let out a suggestive whistle.

“Shut your beak,” Walter muttered.

“Okay, one map for you.” Aurora handed him a pocket city map with the deliveries already marked off. She took her six bouquets back from him before showing her own map and saying, “And one for me. I’ve put an enchantment on them so we’ll be able to see each others’ routes. So I’ll know when you make the deliveries.”

“And I’ll know how far ahead of you I am,” Walter teased.

“Meet back here when we’re done?”

“It’s a date.”

Aurora clutched the bouquets and blushed one last time. Then she leapt into the air with a grin. The wind immediately picked up under her wings and sent her soaring into the cloudless blue sky. Walter watched her fly away.

“Tiercel, we’d better win,” he muttered as he carefully loaded the bouquets into his satchel. He pulled out the little, metal stand that he perched onto the end of his broom and set up the delivery map. “I don’t have the money to buy one-hundred roses.”

When Tiercel again whistled suggestively, Walter shot him a look and lifted the broom up between his legs.

“I do not know what you are whistling about, Tiercel. Let’s get to delivering.”

Aurora flittered over to the Greenberg birthday party quickly enough. She delivered the bouquets and graciously accepted the compliments for her beautiful arrangement. Once again in the air, she looked at her map. Her jaw fell open.

“Walter’s already made two deliveries?” she gasped. She flew a little faster. A respectfully solemn dozen white lilies to the Morgenstern funeral. Hydragenas for a regular patron with enough children and grandchildren to keep Aurora’s business constantly stuffed with birthday orders. Sunflowers for a proud college graduate. Roses sprinkled with babies’ breath for a new mother. One delivery left: an anniversary bouquet for a woman named Ellesandra Stone.

Aurora looked at the map. Her last delivery wasn’t far, but neither was Walter’s. She raced to her customers, holding the trumpet of gladiolus close to keep them out of the wind. Whether she won or lost, Aurora recognized that she’d get a fabulous prize. But she wanted the bragging rights that her dainty wings beat Walter’s broom.

“Alright, Tiercel, one delivery left.” Walter patted his satchel, containing his final delivery of gladiolus. He squinted at the map. “It looks like it’s for Ernest Miller. And I see Aurora’s on her way to her last delivery. Come on, Tiercel, with your eyesight I can’t lose.”

Walter flung himself against his broom and urged it forward. The map flittered in the wind but the stand kept it secured. Tiercel flew ahead and screeched.

“Do you see him?”

A well-dressed bald man was living a town home below. Tiercel screeched again. Walter dropped lower as Ernest Miller put on a hat and strolled down the street.

“Ernest Miller,” Walter shouted.

Thinking he may have heard his name, Ernest Miller looked up. The sixty-year-old man nearly had a heart attack as a screeching hawk and man on a broom barreled toward him. He yelped and started running.

“Wait, sir, I have flowers for you!”

Aurora looked around the park for Ellesandra Stone. Usually her customers had deliveries set to homes or places of work. Gliding over the families picnicking below, she couldn’t be sure who she was meant to give the flowers to. Then she heard the shouting and screeching. A elderly man came sprinting into the park with Tiercel and Walter close behind.

“Walter, what are you doing?!”

Aurora beat her wings faster. They blew up a wind storm as she narrowed in on her friend. She was within arms reach when she realized she’d lost track of Tiercel. The hawk smacked into her head, sending her flying into Walter on his broom. They plummeted to the earth.

“Ernest, dear,” the elder woman chuckled as her husband ran to her out of breath. “You didn’t need to run here.”

“No, my dear. There’s a hawk and this mad man who–”

Aurora and Walter fell hard on the grass beside the elderly couple. Walter spit up turf as he climbed to his feet. Aurora jump up and retracted her wings. She recognized both the man and woman from when they had placed their separate orders. Finally succumbing to gravity, the gladiolus fell into the couple’s arms.

“Oh, Ernest! You bought me flowers?”

“The same as you’ve bought me,” he laughed, entirely forgetting the pursuit he’d endured to get there.

“Aurora, these are absolutely beautiful! And such prompt delivery, thank you so much.”

“You’re very welcome, and happy anniversary.”

Aurora bowed, took Walter’s arm and hurried away with him. Once they were under the shade of a oak tree, they stopped and laughed.

“I guess we both won,” Walter smiled.

“We certainly did. I hope you’re ready for lunch.” He blushed and looked at his feet. “And for picking up one-hundred red roses!”

“Actually, I, um, I can’t really afford–” She kissed him on the check and took his hand.

“Don’t worry about it. Shall we fly to lunch?”

Princess Margret Rose gladiolus
Princess Margret Rose gladiolus. What a lovely anniversary flower.
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