| A Green Soul
By Christine King
She had known from the start that her days would end up like this.
Bed bound with no way of escape.
She had planned for this from the moment she got the diagnosis. While she was still physically able,
she had moved her bed to the front of the house and set up the room to cater for her needs, everything
was set to her best advantage. The television was facing her at an angle so it did not suffer glare on its
screen from the large window by her bed. The bed had an inbuilt hydraulic function so she could press a
button and it sat her up. A small table beside held her remotes for the blinds, air conditioning and
television; it also had space for a tea tray and some books. Her laptop was attached to a special arm that
could be lowered to the bed when she wanted to write or surf the internet.
While her strength remained, she had been out in the front garden working hard to make the small
patch of greenery ready for the day when she would be stuck by this window for the last of her days. Able
only to view the world through those panes of glass, forever looking out at her tiny stretch of garden.
She had loved gardening all her life and with great care had selected bulbs to put in the ground in lines
of different types, each one bloomed at a specific time of year. This meant she would always have
something to look at and always have a new flower to enjoy. As each flower bloomed, she would see the
passing of the months.
Bees and butterflies visited and birds came to feast on the berries and worms, her lonely days were
filled with their busy lives and always the sweet smell of her flowers came through the partially opened
window. She even enjoyed the brutal side of garden life, birds spearing worms with their sharp little beaks,
the bees killing wasps that came too close to their small hive. It was all part of nature and she appreciated
and loved it, after all, nature could be savage and even the most beautiful, delicate plants thrived well on
blood and bone fertilizer. She felt more alive staring out at the life in her garden than staring at the flashing
television in the corner.
Nurses came and went, they washed her and fed her. She didn’t pay much attention to those things.
She appreciated all that the carers and nurses did but her mind was too taken by the new flashes of purple
as the Crocuses came peeking out of their green cases or the brightness of the white daisies stretching
their necks out towards her. The fresh, vivid scene made her feel revived and nourished in a way that food
no longer achieved.
Her garden was her pride and joy. Flowers and small trees, bushes, seedlings; all of it meant more to
her than relationships or adventure, maybe that is why she had never married or why she had never
travelled far from home. She was a gardener to her core; she even had a flowery name. ‘Rose’. Her
mother had always said it was perfect for her, beautiful but with a hidden sharpness. Rose had always
been proud of that. She loved her hidden strength, her thorny side and she loved her flowers.
Rose had always worked in gardens or garden centres. She had transformed some of the biggest
gardens in the area and many of the large houses nearby had the most beautiful grounds, which they owed
to her and her diligent work.
Rose understood the flowers; she knew what they needed and how to give it to them. It was said about
some people that they had a green thumb, Rose’s customers always said that Rose had a green soul.
As the Crocuses began to lose their bloom, the Tulips started to show their tiny green heads and Rose
smiled anew at the young shoots, her children, her babies beginning to grow.
As she lost the movement in her arms, specialist’s fitted bags to feed her and take away waste. She
had made it clear a long time ago that she refused to go into hospital and she paid a fortune for the nurses
and carers to come and look after her. But what else should she spend it on? She had no family left, no
children except her plants; whatever was left over when she was gone would only go to her favourite
Rose was happy at home. She could see her beautiful flowers, love them and feel their love in return.
One night something happened, the local youths were drunk and bored. They kicked down the tiny
white fence that ran along the edge of Rose’s garden and they pulled up all the green they could see or
feel. They smashed bulbs and ripped up the tiny bushes that framed the small space. Why did they do it?
Maybe Rose had once told them to stay out of her garden when they were playing ball? Maybe they had
seen her staring day after day out of the window and thought she looked at them in a disapproving
manner? Either way, they took out their frustrations on the frail flowers and ruined all they could. Running
drunkenly into the night laughing and chanting; a hand full of half dead Crocuses as their prize.
Rose woke up to her world in carnage and the shock almost stopped her heart.
She cried as the nurses came and asked her what had happened. Rose didn’t know, the medication
she was on was strong and sent her into a deep slumber at night. Some of her kindly carers went out into
the garden and tidied up. They re-planted some of the bulbs and added some new ones. They fixed the
fence and tried to make it nice again. Rose was thankful and knew they had done their best but most of the
plants had been damaged beyond help. Rose felt herself fading away as the day went on. She stared at
the garden and wished above all else that she could have protected her babies.
As evening fell and the nurses went home, no one was there to hear the machines stop beeping or to
see Rose’s chest cease in its movement and her breath begin to falter.
Returning to the scene that night, they came back, fuelled on glee and destruction. The little mended
fence was no match for their large strong feet and even in the dark they could see that someone had tidied
up their triumphant mess. This just made them angrier. The moon went behind a cloud and the teenage
boys began to feel about in the dirt for the shoots to pull them out again. They didn’t see the rose bush
spreading out across the tiny garden, its long, thin, branches racing across the ground; towards their
They giggled drunkenly and fumbled in the dark as their hands grasped on plants and leaves, the fresh,
green, sticks of the rose bush reached them and questing hands suddenly closed on sharp barbs, the now,
thick, darker branches of the roses, bright buds blooming on the tips, tripped them, sending them face
down across the floor. They fumbled about on the ground and felt the hidden thorns rip into their skin, the
roses seemed to be everywhere and they covered the garden with their beautiful flowers and razor sharp
strands. Spikes struck out and raked at the boys, leaving welts and cuts on arms and faces.
Some cried out and tried to climb what was left of the small fence, heading towards safety but the
spikey covered stems caught in their clothes and dragged them back to the earth. The strong, sharp thorns
scratched through the toughest material and began to wrap themselves around the yobs like barbed wire.
Piercing and cutting.
One large lad cried out as he was caught in the eye by a branch, he fell to the ground and screamed a
wail of agony that made the others fight harder against the tendrils of this vengeful plant.
The long green stems closed in on their captor and began to engulf the large fallen youth, binding
themselves tightly around his flailing limbs.
As the others finally ripped their way out stumbling into each other, bloody; their clothes torn and faced
slashed, they ran up the path, away from the pain and terror; leaving behind their fallen comrade. The roots
of the bush raised themselves out of the ground and rummaged in his hair, around his face and then began
to burrow into his skin and as he screamed they cut him short by filling his warm wet mouth with their needy
growths, finding a place to thrive. Slowly they worked their way into his eye sockets and twisted into his
ears and nostrils, finding more warmth, more wetness. The flailing stopped and the boy’s prone body was
now covered with dirt and greenery. The rose bush that had grown unexpectedly and with fervour was
finally still after enjoying its late-night snack of bone and blood and on her bed inside the house Rose lay
still as well. A smile on her cold lips, she was at peace.
|About Christine King
|To read other short stories,
click one of the titles below.