The Garden

[NOTE: I wrote this for my Writer's Craft class -- my mark was 92%. It's written in the style of Hemingway, and based on the beginning part of the Grimm's fairy tale, Rapunzel. I replaced rapunzels with rampion, since nobody really knows what rapunzels are.]

The woman stood quietly at the window in the dark and looked outside at the garden below her and the house behind it. She knew he was there and she did not want to think about it but it was all she could think about. Every morning she found him standing at the window looking out over the garden that wasn't theirs and she never knew why. Every night he never came home until it was too dark outside to see the garden and she never asked why. She kept the house clean and didn't ask questions and didn't let herself want things like gardens that she knew she could not have. But now she was carrying something important and she had to know and she had to ask and she wanted a garden.

In the morning he found her at the window looking out over the garden that wasn't hers and he thought she looked very pale.

"What's the matter?"

"I want that." She pointed her finger out the window at a corner of the garden where there was rampion growing. A young woman was tending the plants there and she was barefoot with her dark hair loose around her shoulders and rampion flowers in her hair.

"Do you even know what that is?"

"It's rampion, and I want it. Rapunzel. It will help my fever."

"Are you sick?"

"I feel sick."

"I'll call a doctor."

"I don't want a doctor. I want that." She pointed again, and the young woman saw her watching while she watered the plants.

"I'm not going to steal from her, Martha." The man was putting his boots on to go outside, trying very hard not to look at the young woman with flowers in her hair and the garden with the rampion in it.

"Where are you going?"

"To work."

"Will you be late again? You're always late and I wish you wouldn't be. Will you come home early tonight? I have something to tell you."

"Don't bother her about her garden. If you're still sick tomorrow I'll call a doctor." He left then and she was all alone with her clean empty house and her unanswered questions. The girl outside in the sun sang in Spanish to her flowers and her trees in her bare feet, and the woman thought that perhaps the girl's flowers were like her children. She went downstairs all alone and opened the back door so she could stand outside near the garden.

"Hola, señora," said the flower-girl when she saw her. "Beautiful weather, yes?"

"Yes. Your garden is very pretty."

"Thank you. I saw you in your window."

"I was admiring your garden."

"Sí. You like my rampion, I think."

"It's very beautiful. I had a garden with rapunzel in it before."

"Before what, señora?"

"Before now. Now there is just the house."

"I think it must be very hard to look after a whole house like you do. I wanted to be like you, but my mother says I can only have my flowers."

"They're like your children?"

"Sí. Do you have children, señora?"

The señora did not answer but looked at the garden with its beautiful flowers and smiled at the girl watering and weeding with rampion blossoms in her hair. The woman went back inside her house and cleaned until her husband came home. He came home early with a potted plant in his hands.

"What are you carrying?" she asked.

"These are from María next door. She wanted you to have them. They're from her garden." And after a small pause he added, "For your fever."

She took the pot from him and in it was a small rampion plant.


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April 28, 2006