A lovely and coveted flower

Page 34 in the series Before the Pirates Came*

(Author’s note:  If the name Harry Stowe doesn’t ring a bell, you can read the backstory starting on Page 1, “Imaginary Princess… before the pirates came.”)  

Miranda met Harry Stowe shortly after she married Brian Parker Hall.  As the new editor of the Orchid Society newsletter, it was her job to proofread, add some finishing touches, and deliver the rough draft for printing, just as editors had done for half a century before. 

When Harry’s father founded Stowe Publishing, the Orchid Society was one of his first accounts. Even after the business grew and took on many national clients, the company’s relationship with the Orchid Society continued. With each quarterly edition, Brian grew more proud of his young wife for accepting a role of such responsibility and status.  It was good for her to have a project all her own, especially one that made a good impression in the community.   

Miranda always looked forward to dropping off the newsletter and going over the details with Harry.  He was successful, outgoing, and well liked around town.  Even as a young man, Harry made a fortune doing what he loved.  And Brian resented that.  Miranda called him Mr. Stowe.  He was somehow elusive and mysterious, something she couldn’t quite explain.  Even so, she loved writing about the beautiful plants, and judging by his excitement, Harry loved them, too.

“Orchids are among the most lovely and coveted flowers in all the world,” he used to tell her.

For no specific reason she could recall, Miranda always spent extra time picking out a pretty suit and retouching her lipstick.  It was okay if her skirt was a little short… after all, she was still in her twenties and just wanted to look nice.  A fresh manicure, a new pair of shoes, a sprtiz of Chanel No. 5, and she was ready to go. 

Harry looked forward to seeing Miranda and always found a reason to schedule a second or third meeting to go over the details of the project.  Once it was to clarify something in an article, Orchids and their Evolutionary Relationships, another time he needed to confirm the spelling of Cypripedium Calceolus.  Orchids are very complex. 

While Miranda sat at a traffic light fussing with her hair, Harry was busy rubbing his new Porsche with a diaper to enhance the  car’s mirror finish.  He parked behind the Stowe Publishing building on the square downtown. It was right next door to the building where Lydia Ogletree had her office.  So far, Miranda had avoided running into Lydia but made arrangements with Harry to use the back door just to avoid alot of questions.  Not that Harry and Miranda had anything to hide because they didn’t…  at least not yet.

She acted surprised when he invited her to join him for lunch at Red Lobster.  They rode together in his shiny red Porsche, one of many rides she would enjoy in the years to come.

When things began to go downhill between Miranda and Brian, Harry noticed her tired eyes and the sadness in her voice.  He was a caring and attentive listener.  She told him about her situation at home without mentioning her drinking problem or bipolar diagnosis.  Since she finally had those situations under control, what would be the point?

Once her divorce was final, she told Harry she was relieved and just wanted to move on.  Soon after, Harry invited her to see “Phantom of the Opera.”  It was playing at the old Pantages Theatre in Toronto.  They would take his jet and be home the next day.  She was nervous about going with him.   

After that weekend, Harry was a phantom no more.


*This story is based on some true events, however, has been fictionalized and all persons appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real people, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

© 2012, Shoes for an Imaginary Life. All rights reserved.

This entry was posted in About me, Bipolar girl, Summer in LaLa Land, Vanity girl. Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to A lovely and coveted flower

  1. Theresa says:

    I really identify with Miranda. I was young (20) when I first got married, and so naive…I still am a little in the practical realm, and I am very lucky to be still married to my first husband…even still quite happy and in love, but there were rough patches. I know that there are some things that I have not experienced. For example: I had gained a lot of weight when I met my husband who is legally blind, and even more after we got married and I had the kids…was for 20 years more than 100 pounds overweight… since then have lost a bunch of the weight (just enough to have had men starting flirting with me again…after all of these years), but still have a long way to go. But as a teen I was curvy, only 5 feet 1 inch tall, …just a little chubby, always on a diet fluctuating from 118-135 pounds. I wasn’t model material, but still got my share of attention. Then when I was 19 I exploded…gained about 150 pounds by the time I was 21, and was never able to take any
    of it off until I was 40.

    To make a long story short…I cannot really take any credit for being a faithful wife during the rough patches, because I was too unattractive to be put to the test. I wanted to be a good wife, but there were times when I was a real pain in the butt…my attitude stunk at times, and times when my husband’s attitude wasn’t so hot either. If I had been thin and gorgeous and had men flirting back then…who knows what I might have done. To this day their is still an insecure, vain little girl living in me. Luckily I am older and a little wiser now, but I don’t dare judge Miranda…


    • Debbie says:

      Sweet Theresa, I am reading your words here and nodding. My story isn’t the same, but there is something basic here that God worked likewise for me when I married so young, and without even knowing Him yet. Yes, it was for my good, even if I doubt that at times. love you!

    • Linda says:

      Hi Theresa… I’m really glad you wrote that. I’m comforted to hear about your journey and happy that things are good for you today. I think the conflicts we face when we’re young are more about self-esteem than how good we actually look. It’s hard to believe that either one of us didn’t see ourselves clearly… that all kinds of ridiculous standards were set by society and kids at school, and that those impressions actually stuck. I hate that.

      Harry was the first person who ever made Miranda feel worthwhile. And he meant it. He just loved everything about her. No wonder she couldn’t stay away from him…

      To the “insecure, vain little girl…” I know what you look like and you are just beautiful! Glad we are both, by the grace of God, older and wiser today. Hugs to you, Theresa… : )

  2. Jan says:

    “a phantom no more.” I *love* how you write. And love Phantom of the Opera. We’ve seen it many times, in several different cities. Still gives me chills!

    • Linda says:

      Thanks for the nice compliment. It’s great that you got to see Phantom so many times. Is that somehow connected to the times when you were camping? Visiting in different places? I would love to see it again, but for now I play it on my iPod all the time. ; )

      • Jan says:

        Partly when we were camping, but once we drove to Oklahoma City just to see Phantom, and it was worth it. The theater had been restored to its original glory, and was like a jewel box displaying the gem that is Phantom. Since I am gadget-challenged, I don’t have an i-pod–I listen to it on CD.

        • Linda says:

          Old restored theaters are the best! “The jewel box displaying the gem that is Phantom.” So wonerfully put. : )

  3. Larry Who says:

    “…Since she finally had those situations under control, what would be the point?…”

    Hmm! Or did she really have them under control?

    Okay, let’s turn the page so I learn the answer.

    • Linda says:

      Interesting thing about the alcohol, Larry… I was actually sober and healthy for the ten years I was with “Harry”. I didn’t go to meetings and didn’t struggle either. Of course, when I was ready to get back out there and drink, that was pretty easy, too.

  4. Debbie says:

    Your writing is so so good, Linda. How you can convey what you want to in just this page is a gift. And the story of Miranda is one I think all of us are relating to!!!! Did you know that would happen? You are speaking healing and revelation into our lives. God bless you as you write and care and love, for Him! love and prayers!

    • Linda says:

      Thanks for your kind words, Debbie. One of the things I’ve learned from your blog is that every word carries weight. And that certain words carry more meaning, emotion, color, implication, and depth, than others. I think that’s why your not-so-simple poems communicate so much with a few nice verses. I’m fascinated by that… trying to do the same things over here. : )

      You are still a very good teacher. Thanks! : )

  5. .endtransmission. says:

    I’m certain you refer to the Phantom musical. I recall seeing the REAL Phantom of the Opera, the black and white Lon Cheney masterpiece downtown, with Dennis James playing the organ at Halloween. I think I spent most of the movie under my chair looking out through my fingers as I covered my face.

    You express the pain of Miranda’s journey so beautifully, yet the underlying darkness shows through. It’s a wonderful story, dearest. This is, however, sometimes hard to read. I wish someone could wave a magic wand and make Miranda all better. I’m rooting for her…..

    • Linda says:

      Wow… Dennis James! I remember him from the days when I was a “junior usher” at the Ohio Theatre. The man was a genius. (Is a genius? Is he still around?) Not sure how I missed the b/w Phantom… probably was a little south on High St. at the Rocky Horror Picture Show… probably puking in the parking lot after too many beers before the show. So gross.

      You covered your face during Phantom? e.t., how old were you… seven? : )

      Thanks for your kind and compassionate words about Miranda’s journey. You are such a rescuer. Hugs.

    • Lanette says:

      I’ve been loikong for a post like this forever (and a day)

  6. Ferd says:

    Jumping from one relationship to another, Miranda never really had time to find herself, to become strong in her own self. She wanted/needed attention, “romance,” and simply to be taken care of. Alcohol, bipolar disorder, codependency… not the ingredients for a happy relationship. – Mine was a slightly different yet similar story, and I was slow to learn all those lessons as well.

    • Linda says:

      Very perceptive, Ferd. It sure felt like romance, at least at the time. Regarding alcohol, bipolar disorder, codependency, and other addictive issues, Miranda is still waiting to master these beasts. Progress not perfection. A good slogan to hang onto… : )

  7. ann says:


    I’m sorta glad I get to read a bunch at a time. The suspense would surely do me in!

    Why are the answers clearer AFTER the fact? Oy.


    • Linda says:

      The suspense.. haha. I guess I have an edge since I alrealy know what happens. When I walk my dog I write Part Two in my head, and I get so excited I think I’m going to explode. What a glorious adventure to look forward to!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge