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Short story: <i>In the garden</i>



I like to sit in the garden, just here on this stone bench. It’s cold, the stone. Only in the heat of midday, if the sun is shining very hard, will the stone begin to warm up. But I don’t mind if there’s a bit of a chill.

I’m not sure what type of stone this bench is made from. It’s a bit like sandstone but greyer. It might be concrete, but that doesn’t sound quite as romantic as sandstone, so I think we’ll just call it that. It’s all pockmarked from the weather getting at it, and the carvings on the legs and feet are all wearing away. In another fifty or so years, you won’t see the carvings at all, just a little stone bench that’s slowly fading away in the wind and the rain and the sunshine. A bit like me, really.

In the early mornings, I like to come out here and watch the birds play in that birdbath there, with the statue atop of a girl with no arms. I think she might be Diana the Hunter, but who ever heard of a hunter with no arms? Foolish idea really. See how the light plays down through those trees over there into that hip-high patch of grass and lilies? My daughters are always telling me to trim it back. They say things like “Why don’t you keep the garden nice, like dad used to do before he left?” But I like the garden all wild and unconstrained. I don’t like to hold things back; I know a thing or two about that.

See those trees over there? And this tree here, that we’re sitting under? They’re beautiful, aren’t they? You should see the flowers on them when they’re in bloom. Delicate. Nothing too gaudy, nothing too flirtatious, nothing to extravagant. My daughters want me to put in bright coloured things, but I like my garden the way it is. I know what it’s like to be passed over for something more colourful.

I like the way the water wanders down through that little stream, too. If you sit on the bench, here, around the middle of the day, and close your eyes, and lean back against the tree here, you can hear the water pulling the leaves along, batting them and playing with them like a kitten with yarn. The garden is just as pretty with your eyes closed, in the middle of the day. If you sit quiet you can hear the insects droning sonorously, and smell the flowers, and see the sun through your eyelids, painting their insides glowing orange. The birds stop joking around and settle down in the branches talking quietly amongst themselves. The smells and the sounds and the heat of the sun put me into a soporific state, and I can just sit here for hours, appreciating my garden.

Do you like that trellis archway over there? Aren’t those vines pretty? I like to come out here in the afternoons and watch through the trellis archway. The sun sets down that way, you know, and the vines all light up like the inside of the trellis archway is a gateway for the sun. Just beautiful. I used to come out here when I was younger and wonder if I could escape through those vines to somewhere else, away from the troubles I had back then. And now, the light and the smell of the grass really makes me just want to sit out here till the evening.

Sometimes I do that, you know. Even when the dark is setting in and there’s no moon. Then the bench gets quite cold, you know. But it’s still very beautiful out here at night. When the day gets old, and useless, nobody cares for it anymore. But, if you sit here in the dark and breathe deep, you can smell that night flowering jasmine, with its comforting sweetness that seems to improve with age. When I planted that jasmine my daughters had wanted some colourful annuals put in to brighten up that corner of the garden. But I didn’t want to plant things that would die, I wanted something enduring. Something lasting. And I love that jasmine, we have a long history.

And, when I do stay out till after dark—because I’m a grown woman now and not afraid of anything anymore—I can feel safe and comforted in that dark corner of the garden with my night flowering jasmine. Where I buried my husband.

This is the result of a thirty minute writing exercise. The only constrictions were the time limit and five randomly selected words from the dictionary. Today the words were: plays, gateway, soporific, gaudy, and joking.

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