I love flash fiction, mostly because I lack patience, but also because it forces me to be really critical of the words I use (like my overuse of the word really). So here is my short, short story…
Mr. McGregor’s Garden
“What are you doing?”
Her voice cut into me like a weed-whacker into crab grass. But I ignored her and continued to shovel dirt. I worked the soil for hours last fall, but the cold, dry winter had packed it hard. I had to push my boot brutally down on the shovel to inch the worn metal into the earth.
When I paused to wipe the sweat out of my eyes with a greasy shop rag, she was there, fretting just out of sight.
“What are you doing?” she asked again, her voice high and squeaky in irritation.
“Leave me alone, Violet!” My voice was a hoarse stage whisper.
“You could just tell me.”
I walked off to the back of my pickup. I should not have answered, now I could feel her smug smile prodding my back. In the pickup bed, lined up like eggs in a carton, were the new plants. Nothing but thorns and sticks, brown and lifeless now; I knew they would do the trick. I nestled a couple in the crook of my arm against the worn brown leather and carried them back. I placed them deep in their new homes and let their roots spread to explore the crags and pits of the dry dirt.
“What. Are. Those?”
“Roses.” I smiled to myself at her sharp intake of breath, like a sudden gust of wind through the still bare trees.
“I hate roses.”
With a couple more trips, I had all the roses in the ground. I scooped up the extra dirt and packed each plant in securely.
“They won’t grow,” she argued. “You didn’t fertilize the soil.”
I lumbered toward the house, leaving her. “You can take care of that, Violet.”
Each day tilted me closer to summer. The shiny olive-colored leaves broke free from their stems and the thorns reddened. The flowerbed was thick and full, solid. By the time the flowers were encased in near bursting buds, Violet had stopped talking to me.
I knew the flowers had opened when I woke up that day, the air heavy and hot, July sunshine beating through the single-pane windows. I almost bounded down the creaky steps, but I held back, savoring the moment of triumph. I kept my eyes on the patchy green grass until I was almost at the flowerbed. I lifted my eyes. I choked.
As I fell to my knees, I heard Violet’s soft laugh trickle up from the dirt.
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