Retirement. A word to send icy fear trickling through my veins.
‘Are you sure you want to be at home all day? You’ll get bored. You could work for another few years.’ My voice wavered, an octave higher than normal.
But, ensconced in your armchair, slippered feet on the stool, retirement suited you down to the whiskers on your chin. You’d barely been at home a day before the new television moved in. Look at this beauty, Janet – 50” flatscreen. Then it was the surround sound system. We can have The Beatles playing in every room of the house. Next came the automatic curtains, the lights you can turn on from your phone, that robot thing spouting the daily football scores.
Gradually, I retreated. Away from the flashing screen, the repetitive lyrics, the buzz of electricity. Outside, I weeded and pruned, kept the shrubs trim and the perennials in check. But after a while, I let everything grow. The hydrangea burst from its border in an eruption of pink. Lavender spread over the patio, attracting bees in their dozens. I drank it all in, even encouraging the dandelions taking root in the lawn. And that was where I made my mistake.
It arrived on a Tuesday morning when you knew I’d be out. When I got home, gloss green covered every inch. The garden was getting out of hand. Now it’ll always look perfect. My calmness surprised you. You didn’t see what simmered beneath.
I woke early every morning while your snores still rattled the best china. Tiptoeing to the garden, I stood a while, contemplating the most appropriate spot for that day. Then I raised my knife and cut. The rich sweet scent of earth enveloped my nostrils as I pressed the seeds deep into the soil and sprinkled them with water.
You didn’t notice at first. The shoots struggled to grow, overshadowed by their plastic counterparts. But when the forget-me-nots sprouted and danced in the breeze, you exploded like an overheated socket. Do you know what I paid for that lawn? Wait till I call the company! I’ll get it replaced immediately.
It was time to up my game. The seeds inside the house took longer to grow. Each morning, I coaxed their tendrils through the floorboards, encouraged them out of the creases in your chair. While you stared glassy-eyed at the Monaco Grand Prix, the vines climbed your corduroy trousers. They entangled your chest and wrapped around the television cables. When the screen went black, you blinked and swam out of your electrical haze. But by then, it was already too late.
Sally Doherty lives in leafy Surrey with her two-legged husband, three-legged Labrador and four-legged Jack Russell Terror. She started dabbling in flash fiction a year ago with pieces published by Reflex Fiction and Spelk Fiction. She also placed first and second in Retreat West’s June and July 2019 Micro Fiction competitions, respectively. Primarily, Sally writes middle grade novels. Her debut TOBY AND THE SILVER BLOOD WITCHES will be published by March Hamilton.