Her skin glowed as the sun dipped low in the sky. Clad in the white dress I’d carefully picked, she glided across the barren field, as if an angel sent from the heavens to bless the land. Her silken blond tresses danced in the breeze, set free from their braided confines.
I frowned and added “brush her hair” to the list.
“Where’s my blanket, boy?” my grandmother asked, her voice behind me barely a croak.
I sighed, always her boy, even at thirty. I turned from her window. “It’s right here, Grandmother.” I lifted it from the foot of her bed, deftly flicked it over her and smoothed the quilted blanket straight, eliminating the tiny wrinkles mimicking her sagging skin. “Is there anything else I can get for you?”
Her daggered eyes pierced me, her mind razor sharp even as her body failed. “An heir. Where’s my heir?”
I nodded toward the window. “I predict one about nine months from now.”
“Don’t get smart with me, boy. I know how long it takes. I expected her to be pregnant already.”
“I know Grandmother. I thought it best to wait until after the wedding.” The lie rolled off my tongue easily.
“Don’t lie to me, boy. I won’t tolerate it. My switch.”
I breathed deeply, trapping my anger, as I walked the path tread so many times before. I located her weapon of choice by the faded, doily covered chair she knitted in every morning and diligently handed it to her. Without a word, I turned from her, unbuckled my belt, and let my pants drop to the floor.
The first lash kissed my flesh, the sting barely registering thanks to her weakened state.
I stood motionless, clenching my teeth, as I waited for her signal.
Her breath was ragged, as though oxygen had been sucked from the room.
I knew not to move, not to look.
“Don’t. Disrespect. Me. Again, boy.”
I bent forward, dressing myself before kneeling at her side. “I’m sorry, Grandmother. I won’t.”
Her bony hand pressed the top of my head, her nails cutting into my skull. Minutes passed before she spoke again. “Go with God. Do not fail me.”
“Yes Grandmother.” Dismissed, I fled from the room, hurrying down the tiny hallway and out the back door. The hot sun slapped me as I searched for my perfect flower.
I stopped abruptly, as horror trapped me in its web.
Lily knelt on the dead ground; the dried mud from my mother’s former garden dusted her white gown, destroying its pristine beauty. Her hands vanished in the soil, tainted like her dress.
She looked at me, a brilliant smile upon her face.
“Come here.” My easy manner hid the anger seething beneath the surface.
She was ruined.
She jumped to her feet, toes blackened from the ground, her sandals in hand. “You have the most amazing land! I found the perfect place for a rose garden.”
I faked a smile. “We’ll talk about that shortly. Lily, you know I hate it when you’re dirty. You need to brush your hair and shower. Grandmother will be displeased if you show up filthy to dinner.”
“So? This is my home too.”
I breathed in patience. “Lily, it was hers first.”
She shrugged and disappeared inside.
I followed briefly, before detouring the way I’d arrived. I listened outside the door.
I entered quietly, grabbing Grandmother’s switch.
Steam greeted me as I opened the bathroom door, nearly tripping on the stained dress carelessly tossed on the floor.
Rage, scalding hot, erupted from its cage.
Time to educate her.
The Red Dress Club: Is there someone who drives you crazy?
Someone who really gets under your skin.
It doesn’t have to be someone you know (although it certainly can be). It could be someone famous. Or even a character in a book.
Now, write a first-person piece – as if YOU are this individual. Write from his or her perspective and include the things that really bother you. For instance, maybe there’s a good reason why they eat with their mouths open, or why they use sarcasm as a weapon.
This can be completely fictional or you can base it on a real-life person.
This story is told from the point of view of the male character in The Garden – about three to four years beforehand. If you missed it, feel free to check it out for Lily’s side.
Constructive criticism welcomed and very wanted.
What worked? What didn’t? Did I show and not tell? Did I use unnecessary words? Did anything knock you out of the story? What sucked you in?