Visual Dare #22 – Scattered

Okay, I know this is supposed to be 100 words, and this is 835. You edit it. I don’t want to.

Happy Birthday, Angela! (Late, sure. Breaking the rules, sure. Here anyway. 😉 )

The bedside light wasn’t bright, but like all things, it seemed unnecessarily harsh to her. She rolled over and tried to pull the covers over her head, but they wouldn’t move. He knew her too well, and had grabbed on tight before flipping the switch. “What?”

Her voice was flat, emotionless. She’d spent her anger already, lashing out at fate for months, and didn’t even cry anymore. Though she ate and dressed and went to her new job, it was like living with a dead thing. It broke his heart to see what she was becoming, but he knew that heartbreak led to resentment, and resentment led to bad decisions. He’d already felt his heart leap at the smile of a woman at work, and understood that it was time. He had to help her save herself or one day it would all be over.

“C’mon. I’ve got something to show you. On the roof.”

“I hate the roof. Blacktop and tar. Smog. Nothing grows there. Nothing would want to grow there.”

“I know. Get up.” Getting out of bed was the last thing she wanted to do, but she knew he wouldn’t stop. She couldn’t bear to hear the gentleness in his tone, or see the ache in his eyes. What hurt her the most was not that she was broken, but that her weaknesses were going to consume him before they were done. She’d had a dream that he’d met someone else, someone who hadn’t been shunned by life itself, and alongside her fear was hope. Maybe his life wouldn’t end just because of her.

She slipped out of bed and put on her slippers, ignoring his outstretched hand. Shuffling down the hall to the door of their basement apartment, she was gripped by a sudden panic. Would he push her off the roof? Had he finally had too much? And what if he did, would that really be so bad?

The elevator in this building reeked of mildew and dust, and creaked as it took them up to the top floor. They walked out to the door marked “Roof Access,” and he paused.

“Close your eyes. Please.” Oh, god. He was. He was going to kill her up here. She trembled as she took his hand and followed him out into the cold. The tears flowed easily now. Maybe it was all for the best. The blacktop was broken and uneven, but his hand was steady and led her carefully to his chosen spot.

“I…” He paused. She could hear the trepidation in his voice. She wanted to reassure him, to let him know that she was okay with this, but couldn’t make the words come. So she waited. When he started again, his voice was stronger. “I know. You don’t think I understand, but I do. It’s why I married you. I’ve never known anyone as connected to life, to living things, the way you were. You weren’t just a farmer, or a horticulturalist. You didn’t plant seeds and watch them grow, they became part of you. And then the doctor said that the reason you were in such horrific pain  was that you’d become allergic to pollen and that the only way to keep you alive was to take you away to a place you’d never have to see a flower again. So we moved here, but I knew that part of you never did, not really. It’s buried back on the farm, in that garden you loved so much. That couldn’t work, not in the long run. You without a garden isn’t you.

“I couldn’t live like that anymore. And you sure can’t.” He moved around behind her, put his hands on her hips, and guided her up a step. She heard him take a deep breath. “Open your eyes.”

She thought she’d see the street so many floors below her, and reflexively reached out to balance herself. But there was no street. There was a garden, although not a garden like any she’d ever seen before. It was intricate, and lovely, and full of so much life that it took her by surprise when she realized nothing in this garden was organic. The soil was gravel and asphalt, crumbled and broken and somehow loamy. And the flowers. Cans. Wire. Broken-down bits of machinery. He must have spent weeks and weeks up here, she knew. For the first time, she didn’t see this as the detritus of death, but arranged like this, there was a beauty that she hadn’t believed could exist in such a place.

The center of the garden was his masterpiece. He’d collected hundreds of shoes, in colors across the rainbow and arranged them in explosions of color no botanical garden could boast. And in bringing this rooftop to life, he’d restored hers to her. She turned to him and embraced him fiercely. He gently kissed the top of her head, and she could feel the dampness from the tears running down his cheeks.

“Happy birthday.”


11 Responses to “Visual Dare #22 – Scattered”

  1. Now THAT was worth 838 words. Bravo!!

  2. I agree with Angela–this was well worth the 838 words. Beautifully done!

  3. It’s more than okay…you got me all choked up, that was highly emotionally charged and glorious!

  4. Brilliant, loved the panic that she was going to be murdered, and the pendulum of uncertainty

  5. You nailed the emotion in this piece. I love, love, love this. Such a perfect ending 🙂

  6. Someone who broke the word count by even more than me!! hahaha
    Stunning story didn’t have a clue where you were going with it – but ahhhh the things we do for love!

  7. I’m sorry I didn’t read it until tonight. Wonderful! As Lillie says, you nailed it! Beautiful emotion in this, and a very unique take on the theme. Really enjoyed this. :))

  8. This spoke to me on so many levels. Absolutely fantastic.

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