Morning - 19th of Hamis, 2719
He'd said something wrong. It was subtle, almost imperceptable, but it was there.
Oisin started with the words. That was usually where everything stemmed from, Oisin's mind turning thoughts into words that sounded different to someone else's ears. To him, what he'd said was so clear and simple. Everyone in the world was a flower. No matter the kind, everyone had a purpose, everyone had value, everyone had a part to play in the tapestry of life and nature. Bees and butterflies didn't care what kind of flower you were, only people did: and for reasons that Oisin didn't understand but had come to accept the existence of, some were seen as more valuable than others. It didn't mean that they were, it just meant that someone, at some time, had decided that certain flowers were nice to have around; and they called everything else a weed. These certain special flowers, people brought into their homes, planted in special arrangements, gifted each other as kind gestures. They brightened the place up, people would say: and that was Ava. To Oisin, what he'd meant was something clear and simple: an overture of friendship, and one that Ava had politely deflected, complimenting his words but not the substance of them.
But then, not all flowers were equal. Oisin understood that aspect of the floral sciences even less, but certain flowers meant certain things. Oisin had mentioned a rose purely because it was the first flower that came to mind, something unavoidable for a man who'd been raised by Old Rose Harbor. None of the other flowers that Oisin could recall the names of seemed like an appropriate fit. Poppies had ties to opium. Daisies were commonplace. Irises belonged on graves. In hindsight, perhaps a snowdrop might have been best, a flower associated with being the first, heralding the coming spring; but the Oisin of moments ago hadn't thought of snowdrops, he'd thought of roses. Roses, a flower associated with beauty, romance, and courtship. A simple horticultural substitution, and he'd corrupted the entire meaning of his words.
Oisin was mortified at the perception he feared he had provoked. To say that he never thought it might sound that way, because he would never have thought of Ava in that way, felt like a feeble, pathetic excuse, true as it might have been. Not only did it devalue her, and the kind warmth she'd been generous enough to show, it devalued Oisin as well. There were men who could form affections based on a few glimpses and a few words, but Oisin was not that sort of man. Being struck by Ava's beauty was one thing, but it wasn't as if they'd defeated a maja'wa together: Oisin's affections were not easily given - not to mention his lack of the requisite courage to ever act on them if they ever were.
But it was too late to explain such things. Not only was the damage already done, it seemed it was more extensive than Oisin had at first realised. His heart sank as Ava advanced the conversation forward. Perhaps we'll surprise you, she said, of the people Oisin had moments ago dismissed as weeds. Another failure to translate intent into communication. Oisin had heard stories about Galdori who could compel the mona to push ideas into another person's mind. Oisin wondered if anyone with that ability suffered the same failures to make themselves understood as Oisin so frequently did.
Ava continued to smooth over everything with a smile, and so Oisin responded with a small, slightly apologetic one of his own. "Perhaps you will," Oisin conceded, surrendering to Ava's point without protest. Oisin was hardly an expert in social interaction, but even he knew that arguing and excuses seldom made anything better. "I've been an outsider for all of my life: far be it from me to disagree with the perspective of someone who has lived here all of theirs."
A momentary reinforcement of his smile ensured that his words came across as genuine, but with each passing moment, Oisin could feel himself retreating back inside his own thoughts again, his mind gnawing at a growing sense of overcaution less he catch himself saying something foolish again. Were this a battle, now would be the time to withdraw and regroup: better to retreat and survive than continue waging a losing battle. But how to do that in a situation such as this? As ever, self-deprecation stood ready with an easy opportunity.
"All that travel isn't all it's cracked up to be, either," he mused, his words serving double-duty as an extraction and a continued apology. "For one thing, it seems that my time away from Anaxas has completely robbed me of all my manners; and surprising and delighting as me walking through your door may have been -" His voice hesitated for a moment, attention shifting for a brief instance towards the waiting fabric that Oisin had completely forgotten was his entire purpose for being there. "- I'm sure I've probably monopolised enough of your time and attention for one morning."