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Zoe Halse

Another Garden Book

We pay our gardener a fixed amount to trim the lawn, prune and tame

 the little place (A Small Place)

                                              we occupy. I remember 

                                              when I was little, my grandma paid me a pound to do

something or other long and laborious in her slightly smaller garden place, planting bulbs, digging up bulbs? She said I had green fingers anyway. 

I was sick of being told

‘small pleasures’

- like jamming your hand into the bare earth and crumpling it in and out of place. The death count is god knows what now but I still see older people crimping the soil and bringing 

various petals to bear out of it on the neighbourhood and passing joggers. They 

       poke out of their front gardens from carefully maintained borders

       —so determined to live, drooping over said miniature fences in a kind of protest. 

We were supposed to go on a zip wire this time last year. He cancelled it because I was 

scared. Refunded instead of facing, like a man, the inevitable cruelty of the instructor, both 

of us with the same brush—like an old married man would have done for a rapidly aging wife with a bucket list of desires. 

The heat waned and hissed from the tower block, 

the concrete visibly stretched in an attempt to accommodate 

it. Chained up bikes were dulled by the sun, like old paintings.

And for less than a second I considered the lives behind the

laundry lines, the clothes horses on balconies before I took 

my handbag from my shoulder and placed it carefully on

my backside with the same level of care with which the 

washing was pegged. 

Our garden succumbed to the weight of the sun, flashing back and forth between the fences 

to create an oppressive box. The lawn, short and wilted, collapsed into a dead yellow under the stress of the heat. Next door’s tree leaned into the little place, testing the border between ours and theirs. I looked forward to the garden room (under construction) in the far corner of the garden. Upon its completion, that was when I would read the Rushdie I’d been carting under my arm indefinitely. Fireworks—are his, one tutor had said, in comparison to the domesticity of my other favourites that rippled with fury 

almost imperceptibly. 

Zoe Halse is a final-year Speech and Language Therapy student at De Montfort University and an English Literature graduate of University of Sussex. She is from Leicester, UK. She has previously been published online by Hole In The Head Review and Cathexis Northwest Press.

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