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Murders of a Flower Child 1
By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Sun, June 24 2007 - 3:45 pm



 Mr. Stream-of-Consciousness:


            I’m sitting here half-naked writing a story because you told me to.  I mean, all kinds of people, some of them sick, do all kinds of things because “a voice” told them to.  But this is harmless enough, right?  I’m not murdering anyone, am I?


            Or am I?


            ..Happening here is a foggy rain the way I imagine London’s weather to be.  The climate here in Corvallis is like England’s – temperate because of the ocean, foggy because of the ocean.  Right now the rain is the soft, barely palpable kind that leaves you damp and sometimes depressed.  Someone is disappearing into the fog – a tall, coated person, more like an image from old London than a contemporary casually-clad resident of Oregon.  And he is going nowhere, I’m afraid.  Into oblivion.  Because solving a death is not as easy as the old clockwork-universe mysteries make out.  Just because a man is wearing a watch over tanned skin, doesn’t mean he stole it from the murder victim, or was the perpetrator of the robbery of the jewelry store down the street.  Maybe he fancied it at a discount store, or wears a too-big watch that flops up and down his wrist.  Maybe he switches it from wrist to wrist because its cheap metal irritates his sensitive skin.


            Witnesses cannot be relied upon to identify an unfamiliar person accurately - that’s common knowledge now.


So what is the identity of the person disappearing into the fog?  It doesn’t matter; he doesn’t exist.




This is all about flowers, really.  This place is all about flowers.  The people who come here looking for a better, greener life find it all year round, almost every sort of plant blooming an incredibly long season of floral largess.  Including lily of the valley, foxglove, and the gorgeous peony.


By now you have probably guessed that I am a woman.  What male would bother to mention he is half-naked while writing?  I bet males hang around shirtless all the time.  In fact, I bet I would be writing better if I were fully naked.


There.  That is better.  The hot air from the electric heater is streaming over me like my creative ideas are streaming from my unconscious.  Or should I say, my destructive ideas?


Flowers.  I recently told my exroomate (his choice) lover that I wanted to love him and other people “like a flower.”  The idea was that given to me by a friend years ago, that I should “open your heart, not your legs.”  A flower.  Snort!  Not a good analogy.  A flower is offering up its sexual organs for all the world to admire, probe, poke its proboscis into.  Not like a flower, then.


No.  But he wouldn’t just leave me be.


So, yes!  Like a flower!


So what kind of death might I have delivered to the tall, coated figure – the one disappearing into the mists of the past?


I sit here with the smell of my nakedness wafting up like the scent of a fetid, fly-alluring meaty-smelling blossom.


He gave me a booty call.  I gave him the boot – with a blossom.


Datura.  The “jimson-weed of the West that makes cattle crazy and poisons them, but which they prefer to healthier food-stuff.  The deadly plant that makes humans high before it makes them sick, and, possibly, dead.  Strewn all over the bed, which he willingly lay in.  Big, geometrically perfect, architecturally sculpted white blossoms, ornamenting all the places he wanted to lick.  And suck.


Blossoms up-turned, cupped over my breasts looking like a the garb of a modest flower-child, but when moved aside for sensual pleasure, leaving a coating of pollen which he nibbled with my nipples.


Big pure white blossoms, oozing their life juices between my legs where he finds all that he was looking for.  “And then some” muttered by me internally, and literally with venom, as I coax him, writhing with pleasure, onto his back to maximize his absorption of psychedelic fluids from the soft easily-bruised blooms.


I must hop into the shower quickly to wash off my thick layer of protective Vaseline, so slippery and seductive.   There is no problem there.  He is, these times, always anxious to leave quickly.


Now he is gone into the pea-soup fog, happy.  He already seems to be staggering erratically and, as he disappears, a little drunk on sated lust. 

And the treacherous swollen river channel is not far off.




            Deer eat roses.  Can you imagine.  Deer seem so soft.  Their eyes are so soft.  They seem so tender and gentle.  But they like to take roses into their mouths and chew them up.  Flowers, leaves, stems, thorns.


            Imagine taking a rose blossom into your mouth.  I can do that, they smell so good.  And rose-petal soft – isn’t that so true its trite?  But they are truly so soft and velvety that when you touch them after long denial (“Don’t touch the flowers!  The acids in your hands spot them!”) you almost swoon.


            But really try putting them in your mouth.  They taste like cotton candy turned rotten, or like the rides at the county fair that look like so much fun but make you feel like throwing up.  A bitter, nasty experience that no one expects you to repeat


            And that’s just the blossom!  Imagine trying to chew those tough stems.  Imagine those thorns sticking into your tongue and hooking into your soft palate as you try to swallow them.  Those deer must have tough mouths!  They must have mouths like a whore’s…




            I was at a rose show the other day, and saw – well, it was just an ordinary-looking rose – except the thorns on that thing!  It was furry with them, and the rose was named after Henry Martin.  He was a pirate that sank English merchant ships centuries ago.  (There’s a folk song about it, that’s how I know.)  Now, I would like to see a deer eat that rose – even a deer would resist eating a rose like that.


            So, it was thinking about deer and roses that I thought of luring her into a rose thicket – those soft pink wild single roses that look so innocent but have thorns just the same.  “Come look, look at the fawn hiding his spots among the flowers.”


            Her skin is so white, so fair, so soft – she will be pricked by those rose thorns that God knows how got tipped with the deadly staph bacteria.  Maybe it was carried there by the wounded fawn. When she falls into the thicket, it is my fault.  I lose my balance, fall into her, and  knock her down.  The fawn, terrified, runs off.  It will all seem so accidental.


            It is only in my mind that I will jam a rose down Giselle’s throat – only in my mind that I will, like a Poe hero, extract her teeth that have torn at my very being, and replace each one of them, point down, with a thorn.


            My guilt will be obvious, blatant, but no one will ever think of it.  I have proclaimed my name and my triumph in my deed, but no one will think twice about it.  They have always known my name – Rose Thorne.





            It was when I knew I couldn’t stand it any more that I began planting my moon garden.


            White foxglove in the center, a dozen spires of it, some of them reaching 10 feet in height, mixing at the edges of its planting with white delphinium.  As the blossoms on the foxglove ascend, so do the delphinium below, masking the foxgloves’ unsightly seed-pods with fabulous spires of flowers a foot in circumference.   Mixing the delphinium with cosmos would be good.  If colors other than white emerge, I’ll move those plants or cut the flowers for bouquets, I thought.  So that’s what I did.


            White rocket snapdragons came forward of the delphinium.  It doesn’t grow as tall, but creates masses of flowers that can be seen in the evening and at night, which was when he usually visited me.


            “It’s our garden,” I whispered to him, clinging to him on the path that led down to it, down not far from the cliff’s edge, under dark trees studded with white wild clematis like a stars-gone-wild Van Gogh night.


            The next evening I planted double white petunias roughly in a ring around the rocket snapdragons, and more,  smaller floral carpet snapdragons.


            You notice these are all sun-lovers, perhaps almost blinding-white in the light of day, but glowing silver in the reflected light of the moon at night.  In a way they were the moon’s moons, the flowers in my garden.


            But I wasn’t quite done yet.  Cascading white petunias and billowing alyssum would foam at the edge of the garden – but not yet.  When he left on his trekking trip to the Himalayas, that’s when I planted those.


            Now, on the last night before his two month’s absence, we strolled along the garden path, enjoying the gleam of the white blossoms under the moonlight.  In my case, pretending to enjoy it, while the prospect of my revenge whirled and danced in my head like Van Gogh’s stars.  In my jealous passion, I caught him in my arms by the edge of the garden and held him close.  We lingered there, near the cliff’s edge, long enough for him to register at least unconsciously, the fact that there was a good three or four feet between the end of the garden and the edge of the cliff.


            The very next afternoon I planted double white petunias that would spread two feet in every direction and abound with big white fluffy flowers.  At the edge of the bed, defining it very well in relation to the path, I placed snowy alyssum, like the trusty white line along the shoulder of the highway.


            The two months of his adventure, though full of perils for him, were peaceful for me.  His absence, instead of softening my heart towards him, if anything hardened my resolve.  My view of his betrayal, which I had hoped might become more objective and philosophical, changed not a bit.  Under the hot summer sun, my garden grew.  And in the cooler nights, my obsession and pride glowed white-hot under the moon.


            Daily I weeded, watered, breathed encouragement to my garden - especially the white alyssum that flowed over the edge of the cliff like a waterfall and the white avalanche of petunias that reached out over the precipice as if searching for a new root-hold to a level existence.


            And when he returned, I kept him busy in the house during the early evening.  I had planned a party for him to keep him busy with friends and at arm’s length from me.  “Wait until tonight,” I whispered, and gave him more white wine.


            Darkness finally came, and with it only a sliver of moon – but plenty of champagne to celebrate his homecoming.  After everyone else had left, I told him I had a surprise for him, and took him out to show him a new purchase for the moon garden – a camellia which would, in time, have white blooms as big as his heart.


            “Oh, but look!  It still needs more soil around its roots.  Could you be a dear and run get my spade from the far end of the garden?  I forgot it out there – and I’m afraid it’s going to rain tonight.” 


            The moon gave him enough light to see the flowers.  It was easy to see where the path was, and fired by drink and lust, he raced out to the far end.  Past the far end, and over the edge of the cliff.


            His baffled and then anguished cry did awaken my remorse.  I have placed two large pots of magnolia and white lilac to block off the end of the path where he fell.  I have grieved for him.  Not enough, however, to keep me from finding another love.


            My next white plantings in that bed will be bulbs for Spring.  Snow-drops, white jonquils, tulips and lilies of the valley.  If I don’t succeed in planting the true white lilies to follow the spring bloom, maybe I won’t follow through with building the wall I have  been planning to close the gap.


Because a wall is so permanent, while my shrub pots, although very large, are moveable.




With too many ‘accidental’ deaths in the state I last lived in (unintentional pun) I resolved to give myself a needed change and moved to South Florida, where bougainvilla grows high and blooms year round and poinsettia plants the size of garages are everyday ornaments.


No snow!  No ice!  No cold, bone-chilling rains!  And hopefully, no men!  I’d had it.  It was obviously not my fate to find true love.  I intended to live for myself, cleansing my spirit with sun and salt water.  I didn’t keep my slightly graying hair long to attract men, but to make it easy to put up off my neck in the heat.  At least that is what I told myself.


But my resolution to maintain a detached celibacy did not last long.  Not in the land of sunshine, swimsuits and sensuality.


I met him at the library booksale.  My God!  An intellectual hunk! With a physique like a wrestler and a dragon tattoo on his chest, his interest in history surprised me.


Within a month we had developed some history of our own.  We both enjoyed zipping around in his bright red mini-convertible, hitting the book sales and evaluating fast food restaurants.


When, over my objections, he insisted upon having a hooded death’s-head skull brandishing a scythe dripping blood tattooed over his heart, I forgave him. But I hated it.  When we made love it was I, not he, who had to close my eyes to avoid staring into its vacant sockets.


I tried to ignore his foul-mouthed verbal abuse.  I knew he had been a sailor, and besides, I knew he didn’t really mean it.


But gradually I began to wonder.  When my stepsister came down for the winter, he never seemed to have such harsh names for her.  And she, although unfailingly courteous to me, seemed to soak up the attention he gave her like a foster child on adoption day.


As a threesome we spent long hours on the beach and hanging out in restaurants.  I began to notice that the two of them were drinking more, to a degree that left me behind, wondering why I couldn’t be more appealing and funnier.  The more they drank, the more left out I felt, as if each drink was a key to greater hilarity and familiarity.  There wasn’t a thing I could do about it, though.  Too many drinks left me dry heaving over the toilet with my pupils the size of pinholes.


It was toxic, and so was my emotional state.  Watching the rapport between my lover and my sister grow, hearing him say her name over and over again (he never used mine! – said he didn’t like it.)  Was it just my imagination that something was developing between those two before my very eyes?


I hated to suspect my love and my sister… hated to think that they would betray me, but I had to find out.  I had to know!


But how?  This torture was a toxin.


Hmm…. Toxins.  The idea came to me when my lover and I were grappling in bed, the grim reaper looming in front of my face, his empty eyes seeming to cry empty tears in the hot night.


The poinsettia might help me out of my dilemma.  Poinsettias used to have a reputation for being poisonous.  We were warned as children never to eat any part of the plant, or even touch our fingers to our lips after handling it.  Since then, this has been largely acknowledged to be an old wives’ tale, and the poinsettia is an innocent plant.


But the old wives (or should I say widows?) knew something that most people don’t know, and I knew it too.  Poinsettias are not toxic by themselves.  But when you combine them with a certain other herb, the two combine to form a lethal nerve poison.  And it doesn’t take much of the combination to kill.


After a long winter of neglect and suspicion, I took a short “business trip” north and gathered up what I needed to make a nice Valentine’s Day gift for my love – a skin cream that would keep his tattoos glowing and his rippling muscles gleaming.


For my stepsister, I concocted another skin cream scented with plumaria but colored a delicate pink with poinsettia.


Both of them are delighted with their Valentine gifts – given in generous amounts to slather all over their near-naked, swimsuit-clad bodies.


A casual touch, an innocent bump, and nothing will happen.  But prolonged intentional contact or a passionate kiss….


Well.  Only time will tell.


And then I’ll know.


…You say you want to know the name of the other flower?


Oh, no.  That I’ll never divulge.


That’s the kind of knowledge some people might misuse!






The Long Growing Season


I looked over my large, airy, apartment.  Every surface bore a lavish bouquet of flowers, some bright, some subtle.  Flowers doomed to wilt and fade.


So what?  Flowers wilt and fade in nature – sometimes even more quickly when their purpose has succeeded.  When they have been fertilized and are creating their fruits, what need have they for velvety freshness and bright colors?  All their energy goes into their seed – their need for seediness.  Ha!


I don’t have any patience for those tender souls who claim not to want bouquets “of dead flowers,” as if Mother Nature doesn’t squander a trillion times the blossoms we do, and with less pleasure in it.


If you can’t take the sight of dying flowers, well, go live in Antarctica.  Then you won’t be confronted with the dead as well as living blossoms in summer’s field.  You won’t have to be reminded that living things can die.


You won’t have to mourn the eventual (and possibly premature) death of all the beautiful life around you.  Icy death already surrounds.


But not here.  Not here in southern Florida, my new home.  I thought.  After all, here flowers abound, and the butterflies of summer, most sensual and loving, abound also.


Yes.  I collected three of them in short succession this year, in the long Florida warmth.


Their names are unimportant, really.  Each had his own allure – his own form of magic –or magic of form!  (Ha! again.)  We’ll call them the Mourning Cloak, the orange-speckled fritillary, and that shy butterfly whose rare flash of electric blue is rarely seen and then only for an instant.


They all loved my bloom, my still-fresh body emerging like a bud from its green calyx of gown, summer dress, swimsuit.


Yes, I still seem almost innocently young, dewy.  Surely I have never known the clumsy fumbling of a bumble bee, the busy pollen-stealing predations of a honey-bee.  Not even, (they could deceive themselves perhaps) the long, sweet, loving sip of the swallow-tailed butterfly.


Surely not. 


But I am dewy like the sundew plant, not the fresh morning grass.  I am dewy like the merciless spider’s web in a field of compassionate green.


But like poison dart frogs, I am only poisonous to my predators.


None of these three good-looking men in their prime would ever have dreamed of paying for sex.  And I, still hopeful and eternally optimistic, would never give myself for money.  Such a “gift” I never would accept.  Money is small stuff to me.  My obsession is love – love in full flower, blooming ecstatic and simultaneous in the hearts of two enthralled humans.


Any less a love than that is unworthy my pursuit.


All three of them, then, wafted in on my scent, stayed – for a while – and then flitted away to another flower, less constant even than a bluebird.


They came and went freely – they thought.  No, they did not pay for sex.


They paid for no sex.  All of them, upon their final leave-taking, had the audacity to offer money.  From all three, I accepted it with a light laugh.  But they erred, those airy flutterbyes, in taking me so lightly, thinking they could give and then take themselves away so carelessly. “Let’s keep in touch!” they, exclaimed, one after the other.


Who did they take themselves for – Gods?


Well, then I would be the Goddess.  I summoned three colorful wild dart frogs to be captured and shipped live to me.  These lively-looking pets were my parting gifts – with no cautionary instructions.  Just little food packets considerately  stuffed with ants, termites and tiny beetles, to keep their skin fatally toxic.


I kissed these men, who turned out to be frogs.  Now let them fondle frogs of their own!




I,  Goddess, have tossed those three bright butterflies into the flowerless bright white of the Antarctic.










     Everybody is talking about me as if I were some kind of freak.  “A homicidal maniac!”  indeed.  I’m just a human being, like everybody else.  I am not a bad person.  Before that first time near the river, I never did harm to anyone.  Never even wished them harm.  Certainly never killed anyone! 

     Oh, that’s right.  I forgot.  I never wished to harm anyone until…


     Until I took that Flora of New Mexico course.  Every time the instructor stopped at a scrawny little gray-green plant that looked like every other plant in this ‘semi-arid’ land around Albuquerque and gave it a different name, I wanted to weep.  How was I ever going to be able to tell them apart?


     Yucca was easy enough.  Fleshy, thorny, succulent leaves (or were they technically stems? It was all so long ago!) with those pointy fat-petaled blossoms, the yucca is New Mexico’s state flower.  Funny.  While I was away from this Midwestern state the yucca took up residence here, so that now on every block of my home town I see a reminder of that dry, ascetic state where I first learned despair. 

     But the other plants – sage brush, rabbit brush, Indian paint-brush when it wasn’t in ‘bloom’ which was hardly a bloom at all – just a fake colored cover-up for a miniscule little flower.  And the shrubs:  fern bush, apache plume – I never did learn to distinguish them all - they all looked the same to me and were little taller than I, who was used to the high, arching protection of the broadleaved plants of my native state. 

     Maple, oak, mulberry, pawpaw – now those were real plants.  Their leaves had some geometry to them!  Of course, even the tulip, linden, and beech trees might well be as indistinguishable as those native New Mexican species to the young folk today, who wonder what makes a tree different from a shrub. (Actually, some species can be grown as either, it all depends on how you prune them…) 

     Oh, what’s the use.  Nobody cares anymore.  Virtual reality is what is real to these young’uns.  And what was real to me in that long-ago botany class, in that long-ago landscape, is virtually non-existent to them.  How could they understand me?  Me or my strong, subtle, barren passions? 

     Their fascinating world is at their fingertips.  No dry sand beating back the hot rays of the sun, frying them in the middle, tormenting them.  The desert to them is the sand-colored carpet they have to traverse under the spying eye of their absent parents as, sucking on a Coke, they make their pilgrimage across their 10,000 square foot home to the door of their world, the magic world of the computer screen.

     No risk to them of a real cactus spine piercing through their denim jeans into their legs as happened to me on that first day in the field.  No tarantula jumping toward them if they stomped on the ground, no poisonous snake rattling at their very feet.  No oppressive too-blue sky with nary a cloud bearing down on them until they felt that their very soul had no place to go. 

     I don’t know exactly what happened.  Maybe my brain was water- and oxygen- starved.  Maybe my stressed-out nervous system just acted out an atavistic reflex arc when he approached me.  He came too close, and I pushed him away.  That’s all.  Except we were near the edge.  He went over the edge, as a matter of fact, of quite a high mesa.  I heard a grunt, not a long wail (that I have since learned is always elicited by a long fall) and then silence. 

     I did not know then what that grunt meant.  I panicked.  I  didn’t even look over the edge.  I scurried away like a ground squirrel and joined the rest of the group while they hunted for him, not able to utter a word. 

     Funny, I had almost forgotten about it.  Well, I wasn’t really responsible.  He might still be alive somewhere… telling a different version of the oddest story…. That strange year in crazy New Mexico when he got shot in the leg for innocently getting out of his truck at a gas station at Jemez Springs, and a looney hippy chick  named Flora pushed him over the edge of that cliff of awesome height in the Sandia Mountains and thank God he landed on a ledge….



He was out in the garden.  Again.  I guessed.  But who knows - sometimes when I went out and called - searched for him - I couldn't find him and got no response.  Who knows how far he had wandered?


I used to joke that I was a "garden widow" until I read somewhere that the garden was the traditional refuge of the beset husband.  Now I contemplated the possibility that successful gardening men with great produce might just be offering the neighbors more than zucchinis.


If they're so unhappy.  Or whatever.


What a way to put a wife in a quandry!  The unhappier your mate, the nicer your yard looks and the better the variety, quality and abundance of your produce?


I couldn't decide whether to even try to be nicer.


I went out the back door and started wandering through the kitchen garden.  Scarlet runner bean plants as tall as I am, to the north of tomatoes of all sizes and shapes, with colors ranging when ripe from bright yellow to a purplish red, and flavors to match.  South of the tomatoes, bell peppers and green bush beans.  And in front of all these upward-growing plants, the more horizontal zucchini, lemon cucumbers, pumpkins.  No garden widow could hope for greater abundance, variety and peak of ripeness when planning a summer meal.


Too bad that our marriage had none of the ripeness and fuition of this lovely garden.  Somehow the relationship with my husband, once strong enough to propel us to the altar, had faltered.


What I had thought to be a turning of a corner in a flowery garden path had led instead to a semi-arid pinon and cactus no-man's land.


Sure, there might, on rare occasion, be pine nuts and prickly-pear fruit to dine on.  But the emotional sparsity this union brought to us made the bountiful garden seem a cruel mockery.

Too bad our emotions couldn't seem to be nurtured as easily as these plants.  (Not to denigrate the labors of my dear husband!)

Too bad the success of this garden did not emulate our success at nourishing, but at hurting each other.


Too bad that borage looks so much like foxglove.  Too bad the deadly nightshade has teeny leaves that can be accidentally harvested with the leaf lettuce.

Too bad he can't keep his fingers out of the salad bowl, before it has even been placed on the table.


The police, if any even investigate, will not even check his dental floss for the pharmaceutical digitalis that has somehow unaccountably contaminated it.  (Plan Backup.)


Too bad.


(I also always used to joke that I have a black thumb.  Now, isn't that just too bad!) 





My eyes flew open.  My dream images slid away, as they always tried to do when I woke up, but this time I didn’t care.


There it was again.


Crack.  Pause.  Crack.  Pause.


My son-in-law was sneaking around downstairs again.  The acoustics of our house, however, made it seem as if someone was sneaking up the stairs.  In reality, if someone were trying to sneak up the stairs, he could not do it nearly so quietly.  I really had very little fear of someone getting up to the second floor without awakening me.


But that sneaking around.  Crack.  Pause.  My heart was still racing!


He was trying to give me a heart attack.


I was sure of it.  If I had told him once I had told him a thousand times, just move around normally.  He was less likely to wake me up.  But he refused to listen, as he refused to listen to my admonitions not to ply me with cakes, cigarettes, salty, fatty treats.


My friends say they envy me.  Their husbands, even, never offer to bring them anything or lift a finger around the house.  Certainly not their daughters' husbands, who treat them even more off-handedly.  They just don’t understand.


Everything about him is just too much.  He even jokes about killing me with kindness.  That’s called “joking on the square,” I have read.  But it’s not funny.   He means every word.


I imagine him creaking across the downstairs floor, on his way to the kitchen, probably.  Past the tropical plants, the braided fig trees, the asparagus ferns and philodendrons and orchids and rubber plants that were also all too, too much.  Too much green and not enough blossom, if you ask me!


Well, I’d had it.  I’d had it with his banging of pans behind my back (trying to give me a stroke!)  Startling me with sudden motions and “boos”as if I were a fresh little kid to toy with instead of a full-grown woman too old to deal easily with unexpected shocks.


My rage building, I got out of bed and strode quickly to the landing, making no attempt to be quiet.  Picking up the nearest (quite heavy, really) potted plant (a sansiveria that needed repotting anyway) and in the same swoop lifting it above my head, I half dropped, half threw it onto the dark figure below.


He had already started to move away, but it was still enough of a blow to knock him down.  I came closer, peering at him to see if he was unconscious….


“What the hell!?”  A familiar figure appeared in the doorway.  My son-in-law, turning on the light and wondering what just woke him up!


Completely dazed and confused, I looked again at the stirring figure below me.  A pungent, rotting smell rose from the floor.  Oh, I thought.  No wonder the plant was struggling!  Root rot!  Due to overwatering by guess who.  I started gathering the plant up.  The body moaned, then turned over. 

I stared.  A stranger, it seemed.


Well, what do you know.


I am a heroine, when I thought to be a murderess.  (In self-defense, of course!)


And I think sonny is smart enough to realize that he’d better turn on lights and make a lot of noise if he doesn’t want to lose more of his indoor plant collection!

At the very least.


And if he doesn’t quit trying to kill me with kindness....  Well.


I’ll just have to find another way to kill him.







When I couldn’t stand the dithering any longer, I decided to take action.


He had been plagued by allergies on and off for as long as I had known him.  (That alone should have warned me!  Lois what’s-her-name of the Christian Scientists says that allergies are a symptom of dependence.  Dependence does not a good relationship make.)  Half the time he was in a fog of misery, the other half too ill to go out.


Not so much fun!  Why did I put up with it?  But that kind of invitation to introspection just slithers away from me.   Begone, pale care!  I was simply too noble to break up with someone because of poor health, that’s all!  Brooding is not my style.  Positive (or, at least decisive!) action is what feels good to me.


My older sister had once said of an acquaintance’s marriage, “If you can’t live with him and you can’t live without him, you end up living without him.”


Well that was all right - as far as it went.  I would and could live without him.  But… he wasn’t going to be allowed to live without me.  I wasn’t about ready to watch him magically feel better and start dating, then get serious, about someone else.  He wasn't going to have time to discover that he loved oriental carpets after all and that - what do you know! - perfume was okay, too.  He had toyed with me far too long.


So, yes, of course, I’ll go to dinner tonight! 


First on my menu for the evening: dinner at a fancy restaurant!  (The last meal might as well be a tasty one!)  Even the chefs at this place couldn’t fathom all the ingredients in their complicated creations!  Let alone be induced to divulge them in writing.  That would give away all their secrets!


Next, a dusky walk through a field filled with grasses and ragweed!  All those wonderful but unimpressive blossoms pollinated not by the birds and the bees, but by the restless winds.  (Nestled amongst multitudes of those bright pretty poppies, and chicory, of course.  And dust!)  A field bordered by pines and neighbored by horses, both of which make my lover puff up!


Finally, the unforeseen incident of the car occupation by the neighbor’s tomcat (lured there by a can of tuna, which I of course removed as I sealed the cat safely inside!)  Several hours later, when lover-boy went to leave, we discovered the cat but thought nothing of it.  (Although, come to think of it, his breathing was already a bit labored.  I thought it was just, well… all that exercise!)


I was of course stunned and shocked the next morning when I was informed my love had died of anaphylactic shock.  I just couldn’t understand it.  Why, he had never experienced such a severe reaction before!


That night he visited me in a dream.  He looked so young!  I regarded him more closely.  It was a pudgy thirteen-year-old who regarded me with such reproach!


My God!  I had murdered a child!  I woke in horror, overcome with remorse and guilt.


Not in real life, of course.  He was an adult, and it was all a terrible unfortunate accident.


My friends were very commiserating.  Such a loss!







Some people shouldn’t win the lottery.  In fact, more and more I believe that such uneven distribution of wealth is an unnecessary evil, but I’m no political revolutionary.  The lottery, however, is not yet an entrenched institution.  It makes instant multi-millionaires out of more people, so more and more I’m thinking it is a bad thing.  Maybe we should do away with it.


Some people abuse the incredible wealth it confers.


My husband, for instance.


We won (or rather, I should say he won) the Power Ball and life hasn’t been the same since.  Now that he has money, women approach him all the time.  And he falls for them.  Like fake boobs, they may not be for real, but he doesn’t care!


He is having the time of his life!


I am losing myself more and more in my garden.  I admit, it is nice living in a big beautiful house with spacious grounds and three gardeners to help me realize my dreams.  But I preferred my old life in a modest house with a modest husband who (I thought) loved me.


Now I’m in possession of a middle-aged, paunchy rake of no use in the garden (or anywhere else in my house, for that matter!)


I’d like to lose him in the garden, I think angrily.


Thus was my idea conceived.


I would build a maze - a new kind of maze, not the old topiary kind.


My maze would be big, tall and its nature would be secret.  Upon entering it, you might think it was just a grove of trees or a different section of the garden.  Nothing threatening about it at all.


But each wall of the maze would be constructed of a whole rank of plants, planted in a spiral.  First, fountain grass, taller than the centerpiece of the maze, a tiny jewel-like green lawn.


Among the grasses will grow the lowly buckwheat, chamise and sagebrush, surrounding the beautiful collection of  Dictamnus alba, with flowers ranging from snowy white to pinkish-purple.  These plants will grow as high as three or four feet over the years.  The only plants with showy flowers, they will be the pride of the garden. 


Dozens of species of highly aromatic conifers in graduating height will set off the smaller plants:  junipers, cypresses, pines - everything pitchy and fragrant.


And finally, eucalyptus, with its wonderful fragrance and exciting leaves and berries – interestingly shaped with a fascinating almost-iridescence.  The eucalyptus, which has wonderful silver-dollar leaves when it is young, would be the crowning glory of the grove, and the backbone of my maze.


A beautiful, harmless sort of maze.  Usually.  As long as it is pruned regularly and kept free of piles of fallen leaves.


Believe me when I say I love my husband.  I am quite willing to tend him, nurture him, watch him grow and mature, take on an inner beauty to compensate for his outward decay.


Should he fail in this, though, I will have other options.


My gardeners are an unfailing source of help and attention.  They seem to admire me, actually.


If my husband proves too cruel, I am sure one of them would be glad to dally with me rather than work (in the dry heat) on the maze!  My maze in which the ignition points of each bush and shrub are carefully calibrated to build upon each other should a wayward spark in the vicinity of Dictamnus alba ignite its volatile oils.


A spark, say, from the cigarette of a smoking husband.


What are the chances of the harmless burning bush, the ephemeral blaze of which is not even hot enough to consume itself, accelerating into a fire which consumes a whole grove in a matter of a minute or two, trapping someone inside?


Why, a person would be more likely to win the lottery!


It would have to be some kind of miracle!














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