Helen was ecstatic.
“You know what, John? Those flowers are huge. Huge! And guess
what – they bloom only for a week! I am so glad that we booked this
John nodded absently. He was ready to crash after a whole day of tiring
“They smell so heavenly. No wonder their perfume is so famous. And so
rare. It’s an opportunity of lifetime, John! Not everyone gets it. I
mean the bidding for this trip starts one full year in advance-“
“Hmm.” He opened the bathroom door.
“The bidding for the next year must have started now.” Suddenly Helen
was alert. “Did you tell Suzanne about our trip?”
“Suzanne. Your sister. Did you tell her?”
“No. Why should I?”
“Great. So she cannot bid this year and cannot go the next year. Wow. I
can brag for two whole years! ”
“That’s nasty. ” John commented and went in the bathroom.
“Wait. We have to start planning. And shopping. What do you plan to
wear for the flower picking?”
“Flower-picking? We are going to pick those heliflowers?” He peeked
from the bathroom.
“Oh, dear. Take care. You have to say the word right. They are called
Helioflowers. Helio-flowers. Because they follow their Sun.”
“You mean like sunflowers? ”
“Yes. Like sunflowers. But on the planet Pratino, their Sun completes
the daily trip in just 6 hours. So the flowers move rather fast. And it
looks so cute, so smooth. And so sweet. Did you not watch the videos I
sent you? ”
“Helen, I hardly got the time to go through the brochures you had sent
last year. But I am sure you must have checked everything.”
“I did.” She said proudly.
“Good. And finally at what price did we win this bid?”
“John, my love – there is only one trip in a year. Only 400 people can
go to Pratino in a year. Obviously, everyone on earth wants to go.
Wants to see those beautiful gigantic Helioflowers. And did I mention
that they smell sugary sweet? ”
“How much are we paying?” John now stood fully awake with the
toothbrush dangling from his mouth.
“Much less than your annual salary.”
“No riddles please, Helen. How much?”
“Does it matter, darling? Going to Pratino for the Helioflowers fest
has a snob value like nothing else!”
“How much? ”
“Well, the bidding was going higher and higher. The Colters were in it.
Our ex-neighbor Erikssons were in it. I had to match them, dear.”
“So you will not say. OK. Goodnight, Helen. I need to sleep, get up
early, go to work, and slog for that trip! ”
“Don’t get mad, John. You’ll love it.”
“Love picking some big sweet-smelling flowers? On some distant planet?
Don’t kid me.”
“Why not talk about it tomorrow? I’ll play the videos at breakfast.”
“Whatever!” He switched the lights off.
When the beautiful Helioflowers bloomed on Pratino, Helen didn’t waste
a moment. She donned her designer clothes and posed daintily among the
spectacular farms. John grumbled as usual, but happily shot the videos
of his elegantly dressed wife against the breathtaking view.
During the day, they enjoyed picking the fragrant flowers. At night,
they chatted with their co-travelers over fancy dinners. And networked
heavily with the high net worth individuals.
The natives were co-operative and spoke good English, too. Their
exotically different looks added to the charm of the whole trip.
“What a fun it was!” Helen exclaimed to a classy tourist as they
boarded the spacecraft.
“Really! One week was too short.” She replied.
“I wish we could stay more. Those giant flowers really were lovely.”
Another lady remarked.
John couldn’t agree more. “Never imagined I’ll pick flowers some day!”
He commented heartily to one of his new friends. “Back home, I have
done La Tomatina when I was young, and I did pick strawberries when I
was a child. But flowers! ”
“True! Grapes, tomatoes, strawberries. We could eat those. Couldn’t we?
I picked lots of raspberries, too. On my uncle’s farm.” Beamed that new
“Look dear, the farmers are waving at us. What a sweet lot!” Helen
tugged at John. “Let’s wave back!”
“So long!” Said the famers in unison.
The spacecraft took off.
“Well, well!” Farmer Wally sighed. “This lot was not so nice. They were
more into taking their videos.”
“Of course. They entirely paid for this costly trip. But they did OK.”
Farmer Ralph looked around happily. “Most of the flowers picked up and
stocked neatly in piles.”
“Yeah. Just need to get them to the oil extracting plant.” Commented
Farmer Dick, winking his single central eye.
Farmer Josh stretched his three long thin limbs and managed to grin
from one giant ear to the other. “Hmm. Hope next year the workers from
Earth are more productive!”
Meghashri Dalvi consults in
Technical Communication, when she is not writing science fiction or
teaching Management. Her stories have appeared in Aphelion, Ascent
Aspirations, Anotherealm, Quantummuse, and AntiSF.
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