And so, the astronomer and the inquisitor pulled and tilled and spread and sowed until Emile’s backyard was one colossal labyrinth of garlic and radishes and roses and towering sunflowers that shaded the humble beds of lettuce and trumpeted the arrival of the spring winds.
I’m tempted to allow the whole bright clamor of them; after all, they survived this weather. But even the garden is on lockdown, and there are too many for one pod. There’s only so much water to go around. Wrong place, wrong time, summer’s children.
At 1:30 in the morning, Morgan wakes, rises from the bed, and pads over to the master bath for his nightly pee. After his stiff legs and an aching back––both from handling the luggage back at the airport, no doubt––ferry him back to bed, he lies down and listens for the tank to fill up.
I remember how invigorated I felt during my first time reaching into that bag. Closing my eyes, I desperately swirled my hand around to try and feel its contents, pulling out a kaleidoscope. Peering into the hole, I shook it around some and looked back in. Colorful shards rearranged themselves into a new collage—magenta and royal blue. Lime green and canary yellow.
Kate tells herself that today she is driving to find the quiet, to get out of town and let the houses and little feed shops and hardware stores thin and thin and thin until there are just the low-slung fences and the uncut grass, little farmhouses up on the sloping hills surrounded by leaning trees and rare shade.
Her eyes traveled over to Ezra to see if would go check on her, but he only smiled, pleased again at his discovery of this place. They were only a few inches apart in height, though Ezra was a tall man, and his slenderness made her feel too big for any space they were in together, even one this large and otherwise unwieldy.
The new entrant teacher was her mother’s friend, Mrs Prendergast. Tall and loud, she wore two thick, long plaits that cracked through the air like whips when she moved suddenly. She moved suddenly a LOT. Along with her mother, Mrs Prendergast believed that children should be seen, but not heard. Tolerated. Just.
But then, there he was again, outside at the mall entry, near where the jacarandas line the footpath down the street. He was getting money out of the ATM just as the red and white truck drove into the nearest of the trees. Blind clumsy driving. There was no reason to drive into it.
She bent close to him. Errant strands of white hair sprouted from his mostly bald, age spotted head. She kissed it, her insides recoiling. His eyes were closed. She moved his tray and checked his supply of diapers and drinks. She tiptoed toward the door. “I’d like to think you got your love of wildflowers and gardening from me.”
Mrs. Rivera will take care of you and Marie, he assured Kalista. Leave the logistics to her. Mrs. Rivera was a premature widow of forty with pale Spanish skin and an air of puzzled resignation. Her husband, an engineer, had been killed in an accident at Richard’s mine.
I watched him climb over the splintered railing of the bridge and stand on the short planks on the other side. When he saw me on the bank, he let go and waved at me. I wanted to tell him not to jump, but when I stood up and tried to yell, I could not remember the words.
You wade through the swarm of people, automobiles, and animals and find a clean spot to display your wares. Nobody looks at what you have to offer. There are too many things to buy here, you see. You slip under the radar, and somewhere you are thankful for it.
Ayah was like no one I ever knew and Amma seemed relieved. Almost happy. She smiled more and went out with father, leaving me behind with Ayah who caught pigeons and mynahs, broke their slender necks with her bare hands, and cooked them on a makeshift mud stove in the backyard.
That's when I spot him among the crowd. A faded headband loses its battle with his locks, as if they are too rebellious to conform. The musician is looking straight ahead. He gives the impression of not necessarily watching the surf but simply looking beyond it. His eyes seem to be floating in space.
It is not an easy thing to come upon a monument to such loss in the middle of a cloudless November afternoon when your thoughts are on the joys of life. To witness the horrible beauty of green moss thickening over the memories housed here. The terror of names and dates steadily vanishing from human knowledge.
Not one soul from our beloved town, not even my own family, has thought to write. You are the first to extend even the feeblest of niceties and inquire about my well-being. And it means the world to me; for I am left so desperately alone with my thoughts and nobody to share them with.
His way of extracting laughter from us floated immediately to mind. His bursting into our after-worship classroom, imitating our rector's Harvard yard accent: "Jes-a-us say-ed to he-as disc-ah-ples...," never failed to leave all present in stitches. Learning he'd convinced his fellow high school students that his name was Barrack, like the current president, set something in us free.
Before heading out the door, I grab the wallet and the keys, and a few euro cent coins from the small pile of spare change. My eyes glaze over the underwear, a black pair, and they linger for a long moment on the quiet, scentless stain in the breadth of its twisted form. A strange, delicate sensuality.
‘Where are you from?’ he spoke slowly, digging deep into his thoughts for the only question he could think of to start a conversation, as if that skill of social inter reaction had long ago been placed in a far corner of his mind because he had convinced himself it was of no further use.
‘Who am I?’ The Princess asked the breeze. She asked the coloured waters, she asked the jewelled sky. She leant against the tree trunks, and sought her answers there. All she saw was beauty, all she saw was life though she didn’t recognize it so.