The jade lawns stretched ahead, broken only by the tall brick fence and occasional cherry trees scattering snow-petals over even leaves of grass. I sat down gingerly on the long grey wooden bench. Below, where chair legs dug into the turf, sprang sprays of fresh daisies, bluebells, unknown strands of green clustered with dusty white clumps. The mid-afternoon’s sun donated a patch of light to my repose and refreshing warmth to the garden, peering with vague interest through sheets of steel clouds.
Silence; no movement disturbed the serenity until the approach of twilight, which was followed by a young man. “Mother says please come in before you catch a chill, dinner is ready if you want it, and she has heated water if you would like a bath instead,” he said, dropping a fluffy plaid blanket lightly on my lap, leading me inside to a room lit by a healthy fire.
A frying pan was hissing on the stove and an array of food laid out, just leaving room for the four places around the circular board. My brother sat in his place and the chubby cat perched on his plate. He lifted the feline, passing it to the man who entered the room through an inside door. The newcomer was middle-aged, solid in a plain, loose shirt with rolled-up sleeves, and baggy pants. The cat curled up in one of his arms, and the woman near the stove smiled. “How was your day?” The man washed his hands at the sink and sat. “Not bad at all. Looks like a good harvest this year. We can repay that loan soon. Good news,” he added, turning to us two. “We’ll be able to send you to study whatever you want. You can even be a lawyer if you insist,” he finished, with a curious look at his son.
I’d been watching my sister. She was surprisingly quiet all day; sitting on the broken plank stool in the untended backyard; laughing when the wind brushed through the flower-cadavers, rattling the vestiges of leaves, flinging them over the cracked railing; remaining there when the rain came tumbling down. When called to finish the household chores, wet washing dumped on her lap, she went to the cold kitchen and sat at the wobbly table without doing anything about dinner. Father arrived from the fields where we were working, and Yolande cheerfully ignored his protests at the lack of food, his tirade of “Your mother would never have let this happen!”
Finally, weary of father’s complaints at being unable to find work, his whining at my ambitions, I left. Perhaps, when mother was alive, things would never have gone this way, but I’ll be hanged before staying and listening to him insulting me and my sister. I walked out the back and stood a moment studying the broken tree trunk that adorned the buried garden path before jumping the fence and sitting dejectedly in the yellow sward.
I would be hanged before going in there again.
I smiled contentedly as mother sat next to me and asked, “Shall we eat?”
Word count: 550
Based on a story written in 2003.