Sunday, April 29, 2012

May Makes Way for June

The following bit of flash was written for the National Flash Fiction Day contest with the theme of May Day. The word limit is 310 and my draft was almost 800 words. I managed to pare it down to 310 exactly, and hopefully I left the right words in.

They might not like peas, she thought as she placed the hard, wrinkled seeds four finger-spaces apart. Maybe the new owners will plant roses or build a shed on top of it. Or just reseed it with grass. Mow it. Put fertilizer on it every few weeks.  

Her gardening apron fit looser than it had the previous year, her hands were stiffer, and repeatedly standing and kneeling was difficult and noisy. But the garden was her companion. She’d turned its soil, uncovered its worms, shared cans of beer with its slugs, and nourished it with compost. Through decades of summer days, she had scrubbed its heavy soil from her hands with a bar of rough, salty-smelling soap.

Sinking the spade deep into the soil, she leaned lightly against the handle, facing east away from the sun and toward the house. She and her husband had been in their twenties when they moved in. She still struggled to remind herself that she was not just waiting for him to come home. Now, the house was just money for the next decade’s groceries and bills.

She sighed and began the next task: digging shallow holes for the tomatoes. Stepping on the blade, she felt an electric pang and realized she was glad Trixie had died last month. The old tabby would have been miserable in a new environment. Involuntarily grunting, she knelt to nestle the seedlings into their new home, then used the spade to push herself upright.

She scratched a final shallow row into the crumbly grey dirt. At the end of the row, she rested for a moment and flexed her sore fingers. She watched as the silver band slipped off her hand and landed on the soil. She looked at it blankly for a moment, then used the handle of the hoe to push it deeper into the ground.

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