Every summer, Zoja sold flowers to the diners at the restaurants along Skadarska Street. The diners sitting outside were mostly tourists and often spoke no Serbian. But Zoja only needed to communicate the price for a flower, and that wasn’t difficult.
Zoja sold pink roses, rather than the deep red roses typically sold by other street peddlers. That difference, along with her advanced age, sometimes gave Zoja an edge over her competition. But that wasn’t the reason Zoja’s roses were pink. Zoja’s roses were pink because of Igor.
Zoja and Igor had been married one spring long ago, right after Zoja turned 21. Igor wasn’t wealthy. Igor wasn’t handsome. But Igor was thoughtful and kind, and had loved Zoja very much. Igor called Zoja his Laughing Pink Rose because her delicate complexion turned pink whenever she laughed. And she’d laughed often with Igor. Igor had brought Zoja one pink rose every single day of their marriage. That fall, Igor was killed in an accident at the factory where he worked.
Zoja married again a few years after Igor’s accident. This second husband was wealthy. He was handsome. But he wasn’t thoughtful or kind. And he never laughed with Zoja the way Igor had. Or brought her pink roses. He hadn’t brought her any flowers at all.
Zoja spent over 50 years with this man before he’d died and left his wealth to her. Zoja wasn’t sorry about this man’s death. She rarely thought about him at all. But Zoja thought often about her one happy summer with Igor.
And now, every summer, Zoja sold flowers to the diners at the restaurants along Skadarska Street. Not for money, but to remember Igor and his laughter and his pink roses.