Here’s the opening to a short story I wrote called “The Orchid Shop.” I am currently looking for a place to publish it in full. If you would like to read the entire short story, contact me.
Miss Paddlebone opened the door gently, peeking inside the room at the round lump on the bed. “Mr. Gruntweight,” she whispered.
The slender woman entered the room and went to the old man’s side. “Good morning, Mr. Gruntweight.”
The great man rolled up in his tousled sheets, yawning as he said, “Good morning.”
“What’ll it be today, Mr. Gruntweight? Let me guess, red waistcoat and navy tie?”
“Yes, yes.” Mr. Gruntweight huffed. Miss Paddlebone hoisted the man up. He sat bleary-eyed in his undershirt and striped boxers on the edge of his bed as Miss Paddlebone rifled through the closet for his trousers, waistcoat, and tie. She threw him a shirt.
“Do you think you can put that on yourself alright?”
“Yes, yes…” Mr. Gruntweight grunted as he slowly put his left arm into the sleeve. But he struggled wrapping the shirt around his back, so Miss Paddlebone raised his right arm and pushed it through its sleeve. Buttons next. Miss Paddlebone started the first one, pressing her fingers into the man’s considerable belly.
“Any post today, nurse?” He fumbled with the buttons, pushing them through the holes with fingers the size of carrots.
“Er—,” she hesitated. Mr. Gruntweight did not notice the twitch in her eyes. “I mean, yes. I put the post on the table when I came in. A new issue of The Orchid Review… and a letter from Michael Nye.” She finished the last two buttons for Mr. Gruntweight before adding “And you know me well enough by now to call me by my name, Mr. Gruntweight. It’s Miss Paddlebone.”
She must have unintentionally put too much emphasis on the word “Miss” because Mr. Gruntweight’s next question was: “So when are you getting married, Miss Paddlebone?”
“Well, seeing as I have no fiancé, not anytime soon.”
“Shame. I would’ve thought you would have picked up one of those soldiers coming home from the war.” Miss Paddlebone pulled the red waistcoat over Mr. Gruntweight’s head and lumpy torso—perhaps a bit harder than she should have.