A bee circled me, buzzing angrily at my invasion. I stepped through the rows of brilliant color, pausing to stroke the velvety softness of the offerings. Like me, they blossomed in hostile territory, the blazing sun miraculously pardoning my garden from the sentence of death.
I smiled. It was meant to be, a simple truth realized the day I created it.
My fingertips were black, painted with dirt. My knees sunk into the earth as I painstakingly planted the row of rose bushes.
Three feet. Exactly three feet apart.
Four rows, four each.
A perfect square.
Everything had to be right.
Then the crushing weight would be lifted.
The sun warmed my back as a rivulet of sweat trickled between my shoulder blades. It was warm, too warm for this early in the season.
“You can’t plant roses, Lily. The land is barren. They will die.”
I ignored his words, using my trowel to remove more of the soft earth for another bush.
“Sweet Lily, so headstrong. I can help you.”
I snorted. Three years together and never once had he offered to help. I let the soil cool my warm hands, reveling in the power of it on my skin.
“Lily, you know how I hate it when you’re dirty.”
I glanced at my fingernails, a reflex –the dark rows heavily lining the ragged tips. They wouldn’t come clean. No matter how many times I washed.
“You can’t wash away the filth, Lily. You will always be unclean.”
I was filthy, grime coating my entire body. Always, always he insisted I be pristine.
“You will never be a mother, Lily. You are as barren as the land.”
My hands left smudges as I gripped my abdomen. “I tried.”
“I’m the only one who could ever love you, Lily.”
A bitter laugh escaped. “I believed you. For so long.” His “love” still marked my legs, scars that would never heal.
“Stupid Lily. I never loved you.”
I bit my tongue, the metallic flavor reminding me of the times he’d forced me to taste it. I resumed my work, shoving his words away. His words would not control me.
“Silly Lily. Even your cat left you.”
Salty drops, hot and fresh, escaped from my eyes and fell to the ground. “Majestic loved me.”
“I warned you, Lily. The world is a dangerous place.”
I patted the final bush into place, my tears christening its new home. “No. Not anymore.” I wiped away the final set of tears he would claim as a prize.
I rose from the dirt, refusing to brush it from my body as I stood: tall and strong, no longer broken.
“This is right. For once, you will give something back to me.” I said.
I inhaled the world. The scent of the roses and the soil had soothed me, long ago washing away his hateful words and breaking the dam of guilt for what I’d done. What needed to be done.
Peace. I was finally at peace.
I walked away from the garden he’d forbidden me to have – his rotting body providing vital nourishment.
For this gift, I could forgive him: the Earth was a far better place with him inside of it.
Yes, this is fiction. My name is not Lily, and I have a “black thumb” when it comes to gardening.
Yes, this is not a memoir, but it is still inspired by the prompt.
Constructive criticism is wanted and greatly appreciated. I want to improve. Tell me what I did right, what I did wrong. If you feel like you have nothing to add because I have miraculously produced a masterpiece, tweet it out or share it on facebook or wherever to show me the love. Seriously, it makes me giddy.