I’m still working on story #2, my struggle at the moment is finding the right title, and it just isn’t coming to me. I’ve set the story down, for the moment, and have decided to move onto #3. I’m excited to get to work on this one. It’s been in my head for awhile. Like story #2, it came out of a short exercise involving a list of words, and a timed writing. What I am posting today is the story in its raw, first form, plus the list of words or inspirations that brought it too this skeletal idea/draft. I hope to get some some feed back on what step or direction you would take this story. Again, I have to give a big thanks to Uninvoked (who just got a great book review ) for commenting on story #2. I would post it but, I’d like to see if I can get it published, and some places consider publishing a story on your blog to be “previously published” work. Of course, if it doesn’t get published it will find its way back here I’m sure.
The Strains of the Piano and violin rose up weakly from below.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being- Milan Kundera
Caudal: of relating to, or situated at the tail or the hind part of the body.
Kickshaw: a fancy dish. A showy trifle
Edify: to instruct and improve, especially in moral knowledge.
Labyrinthine: marked by intricacy.
Timed: 10 min write
The old man had built the garden when he was young. Just turned 21, just married, sometime during the 20’s or 30’s. I wasn’t exactly sure of his age nor did he ever volunteer the information. I didn’t really know much about him. He was my neighbor. He didn’t go out much. I know he had a wife who died long ago, but he didn’t talk about her, only that he started to spend most of his time in his garden after she had died. He told me once that he had no room in his life for love that most of it was taken up by his plants. Outwardly, he seemed bitter and hardened, but I know now that he was a very spiritual man.
We live in Brooklyn, in the tall brownstones that have all been converted into very tiny apartments. I mean to say I live in a converted brownstone, the old man bought his home long ago, and he still lived in a terraced house. He would say the realtors would often drop by inquiring if he was looking to sell. He said he could see them circling around the block lapping at his door like his home was a kickshaw to consume. He said they were waiting for him to ship off to Florida or to die.
Tick-tock tick tock any day his heart will stop. They wished.
“You have to have a heart in order for it to stop.” He said to me.
He had been watching me he had said. Watching me as I struggled with my plants as I desperately tried to grow something. He had been watching me, and he wanted to help me. My window over looked his garden, and I would sometimes see him staring up at me. I thought he was an old pervert, but maybe I liked the attention, that’s why when he stopped me on the sidewalk in front of our homes I didn’t mind. He invited me in for tea; I half expected that once inside he would suggest I take my clothes off for photos. I didn’t really care. I was having a hard time caring or feeling much of anything. My boyfriend of five years had recently left me, and the sad thing was I didn’t really care. He had complained that he couldn’t read me that he wanted to know me, but I guess I didn’t let him in because eventually he left. I had to ask myself how could I be with someone, live with them tell them I loved them for two years when really I didn’t, and couldn’t care less if that person left. That’s why I started to buy the plants I wanted to be surrounded by something living something I could maybe care about but they were all dying.
“If there is one thing I know its plants.” He had said, “have you seen my garden?”
Of course I had seen his garden I stared at it daily, nightly, loosing myself in it. No one had gardens like his in the city.
You need to experience it first, not see it but experience it.
He had erected small posts through out the garden, and had tied a rope to each post to help guide me along the path as I closed my eyes. I wandered through the garden blindly touching each flower each leaf. Letting my fingers guide me by each squeeze, brush and pull of a petal or vine. When I say blindly I mean blindly as if I never had eyes from which to view, as if all my other senses were my only guides. I wanted to know what I had been missing from my other senses the things my eyes took for granted. I could smell mint. My hands reached down to touch the cool metal of a tub that was filled with fresh spearmint it invaded my nostrils as I bent forward to inhale. I rubbed my fingers over a mint leaf squeezing out the oil and feeling the fuzzy labyrinthine of it’s veins knitted by nature and sewn into the perfect quilt of life. This was his temple and I wanted it to be mine too.
We sat on the steps in front of his door staring past the closed rod iron gate, and pass the sidewalk to the school across the street where we would blankly watch the children play during their recess. As I drank coffee and he sipped his tea, I waited to hear him speak. I loved the sound of his voice it was like the soft strings of a violin. I knew at his core he held a symphony of words. I had touched and smelt my way through his garden and I wanted him to tell me something to edify me with his wisdom. But, he was silent like he was when I had wandered through the garden when all I could hear was the crunch of my feet over gravel, and the buzzing of hundreds of electrical wires that rose over my head. When he did speak it was not about the garden but of the loss of energy, and he spoke endlessly of it.