This is another in the series of Flash Fiction Challenges put together by photographer Dani over at Postcards from the Mothership and author Christine Hennebury. A few of us write a short piece each week(ish) based on a photo sent to us by Dani. Here’s my entry from this week.
PlantingI’ve set a timer on my watch. Every afternoon at 3:35, it beeps.
I’m usually out in the garden. There’s always something to work on out there. Not like at the old employee barracks, where the mine’s tailing ponds came almost up your backyard, and nothing would grow. Now that Luke and I have moved out here, closer to head office, I’m putting in marigolds and some petunias out front, and maybe a vegetable garden out back. There’s so much space – I’ll have to plan for some larger bushes, maybe some lilacs, to fill in the acreage, and there’s plenty of room for a butterfly garden down along the road. When I sent Terry the pictures I knew she’d be green with envy, but I only meant to show her what was possible if she managed to get Mike off his ass every now and again and earn himself a promotion, too. Clean air, country living, fresh starts.
I like to make sure I’m out front when the timer goes, and I raise my head from the flower beds to look. It’s a ways down to the road – not sure what we’ll do with such a long laneway in the winter – but I can still see the dark yellow as the school bus rumbles by. It’s warm enough now that sometimes the kids have the windows open, and it’s a mad cacophony, a burst of laughter and singing and squealing. The road still full of potholes from the winter’s snow and ice, and the bus shakes slowly over them, giving me a good long minute to look, and wonder.
The oldest would have been on there, I often think. Lost at just ten weeks along. Certainly well into grade school by now, if things had been different.
The second one too, by now. Made it eleven weeks with that one. After that, Luke wanted to stop trying but what he didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him. There’d be a few other babies at my feet by now, if only.
My watch beeps but I’ve already heard the engine coming down the road, the sound of the tires in the ruts. I look up, hands dirty, a marigold pulled from its pot but not yet in the ground dangling with roots and dirt from my hand. Some of the children are waiving out the window today – I doubt they can see me. They just want to wave at the world. It’s a beautiful place, sometimes.
When the bus passes I turn back to my garden, shifting carefully when I feel a little twinge. It’s been four months now, and that’s the longest I’ve ever made it. I noticed yesterday that my gardening pants – the big wide ones, the ones that are too baggy to wear into town – are getting a little snug. It’s too early to think of the school bus coming to a stop at the end of the lane, someone skipping down past the butterfly garden, up the laneway to the house with the marigolds. It’s too early, I tell myself.
But somewhere inside, hope is growing anyway.