So Many Roses. (Part Three)

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

The past is like a puzzle. Finding one piece, then fitting it together with another. If you know what you are looking for, everything takes on a different meaning. But that is part of solving the riddle. You can see the whole picture, but it is cracked, parts missing.


There. Phosphorus sulfide. Think they expected more of us really. But it never did take off.
What was once quaint, now sinister. The blue carpet covers the mounds of the uneven floor, the heavy dark wardrobe falls open. A bag of child’s jumpers, weaved and folded with love. Balls of wool. An apron, a bag of pegs. They have this furniture in all of the houses, the same light-green metal bed frames, the same wooden kitchen cabinets. Houses that lie empty, broken windows, cracked bones. Houses hidden behind the overgrown vines. Invisible. The city hides its secrets too. Human slaughter houses with hooks on the walls, underground, walking on residue, sticky blood and rivers of plasma. Wiping the feet so casually on the way out. Now a carpark, now a supermarket. The clues are all there, the breeze carries whispers, sighs.
Once you know what you are looking for it seems to click into place.
Click click.
Is there anyone here? What do you want?
A branch snaps in reply. The sound of the neighbours' chickens.
Once the ground is soft and astral hands are helping lift the weight of the concrete, this fence is easier to fix than anticipated. I dig a hole at the base of the wire mesh. There is a metal bar or frame laid across the boundary, under the earth, as if everything has been marked out, then covered in dirt. I go into the barn where I keep the tools. Boxes of wood, crates of dried bare corn cobs, empty metal oil drums, a small wooden chair, a hoe. The light shines through the holes in the bricks, four across, four down. From the outside, you cannot see these holes at all. It is cleverly disguised.
A retirement property. A holiday home. An investment. Would it have made a difference if they had mentioned the death camps? I think, yes.
Slimy links of a broken chain in my compost, at first, look like brown, shiny worms. Then a padlock, buried. Evidence of a crime, buried. Some things appear, other things get moved. A walnut missing from the wooden crate next to the porch steps. A white enamel tin mug disappearing then appearing months later. My old gardening trainers, first one, then the other, missing, as if one walked off and the other later followed. And bones. What bones? The police did not mention bones at all. They had landed silently upon the perfect ploughed furrows of the neighbours' land, where now I throw the broken chain and padlock.
I am too, disappearing. Invisible, is that not what they say when women reach my age? Estrogen levels no longer keeping me Earthbound. Cumulus, growing wispy, fading, white around the temples of my long, raven hair and dissolving up, up.
Looking up through the grape leaves, the green against the blue sky. The varying pitches of the incessant buzz of bees. Under the clear blue sky now, this is the only hum I can hear. Inside the house, the hum is like the faint rumble of lorries on the distant motorway, then a vibration to the cranium. When all should be silent. The bees never stop their work in the sun, they just seem to know what to do. The timbre of the wings beating fast and slow as some crawl slowly as they target the grape inflorescence, ignoring the roses. Deep red ones, orange ones, wild roses mingle with scarlet hybrids. They are growing nine feet high, and reaching out onto the street, like arms waving intruders away with a spiky flourish. Whilst the bees seek the small green nodules with delicate white blossom.
A stork circles high above, wings outstretched. I cut away thick handfuls of grass with the sickle then churn up the earth back there, outside the porch, where the wild roses are dropping white petals. On the wall, by the door, there are lines scratched vertically side by side into the bricks. Someone was keeping count, it seems. Further along, faintly scraped into another brick, 1957. The husband is sitting on the wooden bench, in blue overalls. He is holding the wooden handle of the sickle, twisting it around as he leans back against the wall. He saw the men enter his friend’s house. He is waiting until they leave. They walk past the gazebo, and out the gate. They have been talking of produce. Grapes, apples, cherries, honey. He goes to the barn where he keeps the tools. He can watch his land at the back, through the holes in the brickwork. He can keep a look out, to see who is pulling down the grape vines at the back, and destroying the fruit. He can watch who comes in and out of the house at the back. They want to take his land, he knows, they are taking all the land, smashing the beehives, stealing the pigs. He smiles at the miniature wooden chair he has fashioned for his son.
Such a view from here, across the fields.
The small gold barrel is filled with crushed-up match heads and scrapings from the side of the matchbox. A ball bearing placed on top and sealed with wax. Very careful now, as I load the magazine. My quite ordinary brown eyes now reflect the yellow light. Under the blood- flower- moon they have the wolf-shine of night. The stars and their planets are magnificent. A triangle of blinking red and green lights moves across the sky, faster than a plane and higher up. Sometimes these things stop and can disguise themselves as stars. The crack of twigs, a soft rustle of footsteps between the silver birch and cherry tree, scampering behind the vacant ivy covered house. The breeze carries voices, cries. Fragments of psyche and skeleton are assembling and rising.

Submitted: June 29, 2021

© Copyright 2022 Michelle Blower. All rights reserved.

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