(This is Part Two of the story. If you haven’t read Part One, click here.)

“A florist?”

The Sergeant looked up at Tony with a heartbroken smile. As much as no one believed that to be true, that smile spoke values. It missed. It ached for. It yearned. We had seen that smile, that heartbroken look when guys would talk about their girls back home. The love was still alive even though it had been months since their darling faces.

“Ya mean ya worked with flowers? Like roses?”

“Not just roses, Tony. I worked with daisies, lilies, chrysanthemums…and the Citadel Golden Tulip.”

He laid his weary head against the crumbled stone wall. How a man could love flowers so much was beyond the troop, but clearly the Sergeant was taken by them. A quiet “hmm” slipped from his lips, as his eyes rolled back behind closing lids.

The Citadel Golden Tulip was something of a legend, even in circles that were not populated by florists. The story went that the Citadel Cathedral had them specially engineered, completely unique from every other flower on the planet. They were supposed to just for the church, to adorn itself in more “glory”.

“Will….I mean…if we ever get home, will you go back to flowers, Sergeant?”

With that question, every man looked to the Sergeant. They may have lost interest in the flower talk, but this wasn’t a question of flowers. It was a question of hope. Would we be victorious of the brutality of the enemy? Would we make it back, survive the long trek to the Great Hole, and then home?

The Sergeant looked at Patrick, as he eagerly awaited an answer. A grenade dropped into the middle of the platoon.