English Country Garden
By Mark Burrow
I could laze here among the weeds of the garden for a thousand years. Irene waters her roses next door, looking at me askance. I know you’re watching me Irene because I’m watching you.
The brat teenager two doors down on the opposite side fires a potato gun, whispering, Hey, paedo, and the like. I let it wash over me like waves on the sand of the seashore in Cornwall where I used to go walking years ago.
I pay no mind to the ants under my back and the wasp buzzing by the tip of my nose. The thunder in the distance may scare the dogs and cats but to me it is neither here nor there.
Yesterday a woman at number 54 dropped a saucepan onto the kitchen floor and screamed. The bad language used by the young couple across the way caused one of us on Portland Grove to call the police a while ago.
These occurrences are forgotten sounds, like a film score for a movie that was never made. This is my garden. I paid for it with a mortgage and went every day of the week to the office. I took the tube, getting off at Moorgate station.
Stephanie’s clothes are cut up, smouldering in a pile, the Cds are broken, snapped, the ring on my wedding finger needs to vanish and there are the photographs in the computer I should’ve deleted.
Closure is necessary. Endings are of greater significance than beginnings. I loved her and she left me for another person at the bank where she worked. He liked to go running. Apparently the friskiness started after a charity fun run.
Her skin was reddened by showering in the mornings. I’ve sensitive skin, she used to say. During the summers we spent in Cornwall she wouldn’t use suntan lotion. It irritated her skin, but she complained about the sun too.
What used to frustrate me I now look back on with nostalgia. What have I done to deserve this? I asked. I’ll do whatever I can to save our marriage. She cried, telling me the decision was made.
This means nothing to you, I yelled, raising my hand, pointing to the ring. She ran to the car. Her sportsbag stuffed with cosmetics and the clothes she had snatched. Drawers and wardrobe doors left open.
I closed the front door and the silence of the house rolled into my ears, spread through my brain and I chucked a chair in the kitchen - everything felt as if it was spinning out of control and yet this was absolutely final.
Tear out the phone. Close the curtains. Watch day time TV. Drink lager in the morning, brandy at night. Change the locks. Send emails to work telling your employees you’re sick. Never, ever answer the front door.
Remove her presence from your life. Jewellery. Shoes. Underwear. Go about your task with a fury and sense of time running out, then be poignant, rueful, before the elastic hair band and skin cream are thrown into the fire.
Each day a little bit more of her goes. I lay on the grass and the lightening crackles and the rain patters and slaps onto my skin, cascading off the canopy of the gazebo we bought last spring.
I open my mouth. The water explodes on my teeth, my tongue and tonsils. It sounds like a round of applause. A segment of potato hits my chest. GOOD SHOT, I yell. YOUR BEST EFFORT YET, YOUNG MAN.
Drink the rain. Swallow every last drop of the storm. Let it bloat your stomach, swell the bones, the heart, the liver. I stretch out my arms and tell myself this is exactly how life is meant to be.