The Garden in My Heartbymismused©
(Author's note: Mildly edited from the original published by eXcessica under the name of A. Mistory)
(Reader note: This story is about 14 Lit pages long.)
I thought of the day I walked down the aisle on my father's arm. Mercy, I was so excited, my heart pounding, my face feeling flushed, my smile watery. Was I nervous? Boy, was I ever. Looking to the altar I saw Greg looking right at me. Anxious? Expectant? I thought he might be, but there was no smile, he just looked at me steadily, a look that bored into me, one that told me what I already knew, that he loved me, and was happy to see this day come. He did love me, of that I was more than sure.
It was, I thought, a beautiful day for me, as was the reception afterward with all the well-wishers (that I never saw again). Still, it was truly exciting for me. What girl wouldn't be excited? There I was in my beautiful gown, tastefully, I thought, showing a small acceptable amount of cleavage that I noticed Greg's eyes often returning to. Now that was a wonder to me, after all, he'd seen me quite naked before. I may have been virginal to Greg in his mind on our wedding day, but I certainly wasn't virginal physically. We were too in love; at least that's how it seemed.
Yes, we were in love; Greg was in love. In love and in lust. That's probably why his eyes bored into me at the altar. Mmm, he did lust so much, and I loved it, or thought I did. Maybe I did. We were both juniors in college when we began late in the school year. Greg was a good lover, or so I thought. I really had no way of measuring that other than I knew he loved me very much, and was sweetly attentive in so many other ways. Maybe it was how considerate he was around me, how he treated me so lovingly that had me thinking he was a good lover. That I seldom had an orgasm didn't enter into my thinking back then, nor any time soon after we were married.
On our wedding night, as usual, Greg was loving, up to a point, then he was in me, and I held him closely. We kissed, we strained, but Greg had to finish. He was apologetic. He really did want me to have my orgasm and there was no way I could fake one on our wedding night as I sometimes had.
"I'm sorry, baby," he whispered, and kissed me, still fervently.
"That's okay, honey, it was sweet. Next time, huh?" I whispered back, a part of me hopeful, another part...what part? I didn't know.
I cleaned us up, and snuggled into him. Well, it was our wedding night, wasn't it? Yes, and Greg kissed me so much, and I felt so good, and warmly comforted by his still loving hands and kisses. He was loving me so much that he became excited again, hard, so we made love once more and this time I did have a marvelous orgasm. God, I was feeling so good about that, so loved and satisfied at last, loving, the warmth of it all coursing through me as if it would never stop. I hated to give him up then, but it had to be done.
Then again, it was more than nice to return to his arms, and cuddle with him. Our kisses began again, and my fingers happily surrounded his maleness; I wondered if it would become erect again, the night was so special for us. If it did, I didn't know it because we both fell asleep. We were happy, I thought. Was I?
I sat back and looked at the hole I'd dug. Maybe it needed to be a little deeper. A short time later I thought it was deep enough, and put in some potting soil—or did it say top soil? Oh, well, some peat moss after that, and then I mixed it all up. Getting the pot, I gingerly took out the rose bush, and set the roots in carefully. More soil—from what I'd dug up, not the bought kind—then a few well-placed rocks, more soil, and Voila! I was proud of myself. Now if I just did it right, or wouldn't kill it later as I so often did. It was a fact that there was no gardener blood in my veins, but this was something I just wanted to do for whatever reason. Maybe there was no reason, or maybe the reason was trivial.
Anyway, I sat there admiring my handiwork, then remembered I had to water it. That was the reason for the few rocks. I'd heard that a few rocks helped the water to naturally to sink into the soil better, thus giving the roots a better drink. Was that true? I had no idea, but it sounded as if it might be so, therefore the rocks.
"Hey, Ellen, that's a nice looking rose bush," my neighbor Molly said.
"Oh, hi Molly. Think it'll make it?"
"Ya know, I hope it does, but I'm not an expert," she said, her mouth twisted as if to say she was flummoxed by it all.
It wasn't often that Molly came around. In fact, it had been a good while. Nobody came around much, but then I didn't stop by to visit anybody either. Never had. We spoke, but it was the over-the-fence type of talking, quick and with a smile, but no real warmth to it, no depth of feeling or anything. Molly was more than friendly enough, and I thought I was too, but it never happened. It never happened with any of us, at least not that I knew of. Maybe it was everyone working, or maybe something else, but...
"Hey, want to come over and eat supper with us?" she asked suddenly.
That sort of shocked me. Not that any of us hadn't visited before, or been to each other's house, or yard, for a barbeque, but not lately, and not often. Not often at all, so it was very unexpected.
"Thank you, but I don't think I'm fit company today, and certainly not at all clean," I said, looking at myself, all grungy and dirty looking, my fingernails a mess, gloves or no gloves.
"Okay. Just thought you might like to, and we have more than enough. Hey, do you have something ready?"
"Ready?" I asked stupidly, not realizing right away what she meant. "Oh, for supper. No, but I'm sure there's something there," I said, feeling a little discomfited by my slowness.
"How about if I bring you something then. Like I said, there's more than enough, and here you are, all tuckered out, I'm sure, from doing all this work ..." She let it hang, a look on her face that was kind of hard to resist not smiling at, or maybe with as she broke down and smiled in a moment.
"That's sweet of you, Molly. Thanks," I gave in hoping it was taken as being thankful and grateful, which I really wasn't, but I was in a way. It was a nice gesture on Molly's part, though it wasn't the norm in any way with us.
"Okay. I'll bring it over about six. Will that be good for you?"
"Yes, that will be fine," I said, smiling, and feeling an odd sense of warmth with Molly.
Molly and her husband, Hank, seemed like good people at first glance even if together they presented some strangeness if one looked at them closely which I hadn't, not really. Hank often left her alone on weekends going off to heaven only knew where. Molly had become pregnant a couple of times, but not too long after, had miscarried. We weren't here the first time, but the second time we'd sent flowers, and along with others, when Molly returned home, we took food dishes hoping to make things easier for her. The usual friendly-neighbor food, but not truly sincere as in good friends. I did like Molly, though not necessarily her husband. I didn't actively dislike him, but then again, maybe I did.
Hank had made a clumsy pass at me not long ago; maybe enough time passed to have Molly feeling good about inviting me to have dinner with them. Molly had come upon it, and had a funny look on her face, but not at me, I later learned. In fact, she apologized for Hank's behavior. I brushed it off since nothing had really happened. As I said, he'd just clumsily tried to hug and kiss me, but I quickly pushed him away. No harm, no foul as I'd heard some sports commentators say on TV, just a remembrance to exert care around him, or better yet, not to be around him at all.
In the shower my previous thoughts of Greg returned. What was I feeling now? Maybe more importantly, why? I had no idea what the answer was to any of those thoughts. Why didn't I? I loved Greg. We were faithful to each other, yet... The thoughts, or near thoughts, I guess, had come not long after Greg passed away, and were increasing in frequency. I could never seem to pin them down, what they were about, other than that they were in me, and were a nuisance, and getting worse.
They nagged me. I wished they'd go away, but inside of me I knew there was something missing; something I was missing, not seeing, but what? That disturbed me even more. How could I be feeling as I was and not know why? I wanted to become angry with myself, to rail at myself, but what would it be about? Maybe I needed to go out more, mix with others. Get my mind off of my silly thoughts, or lack of thoughts.
Dried, I put on some easy clothes, and poured myself a glass of wine. It was good; it warmed me, helped me tune out. I needed that. These unknown thoughts were coming to me too much, too hard, making me anxious and irritable with myself. Finishing my wine, I sat there feeling my body relaxing, and, I know, hoping my mind would follow. Then I heard the doorbell.
"Hi. As promised," Molly said brightly.
Momentarily confused, I quickly remembered and smiled. Looking at what was in her hands, I got flustered instantly.
"Goodness, Molly, whatever it is, it's too much," I foolishly said.
"Does that mean you're not going to let me in?" she said, an impish grin on her face.
Upset at my social incompetence, I stepped aside. "Of course. Come in. Please," I added trying to make up for my ungracious faux pas.
"Good, cause they're getting heavy," Molly said in a most friendly way, her smile bright and inviting.
I began to remember Molly as being a very friendly person, again, though, I hadn't been around her much, nor anyone else as I said. This was a first, this one-on-one. Molly's sweetness was fast endearing her to me.
"Oh, Molly, it's too much. This would probably do me for a week, whatever it is, but it does smell delicious."
"I thought I remembered you liked spaghetti, so—ta-da! Salad, buttered bread. Just add dressing. Uh, you do have some dressing don'tcha?" she asked as if she'd forgotten.
"Yes. Yes, I have some dressing, thank you, but my god, there's so much of it," I said as it was set on the table, and we looked at each other.
"Hmm, you know, you're right, it is a lot. Maybe you should have someone over to help you."
"Yes, someone," I agreed, setting myself to be as gracious as I could be and figure out where to put it later. "Too bad there's no one available," I said inanely.
"Oh, you want someone to help you eat all of this? Okay," she said swiftly, "I guess I can stay and help you out this time," she said, faking looking serious in her offer. I wondered if she was, then thought that maybe she probably was, but why?
"Well, that might be nice, but what about...?"
"Oh, him. He's gone. You know, he goes out a lot to whatever. I don't even try to keep up with it anymore," she said dismissively, and much too easily.
Though wondering about her not seeming to care about Hank, I put my hands on my hips and gave her a look she couldn't pretend not to see telling her I woke up and was wise to her trickery, not that I wasn't anything but fairly amused at her antics.
"Hey, you wouldn't come over, and I thought we could use the company...so..."
I grinned. Was Molly over doing it in making up for her husband? If so, she was cute doing it, and it tickled me.
"You know, I was taking a shower, and thinking to myself that just maybe I did need to mix a little more, so maybe you read my mind, huh? Yeah, you must have," I said agreeably, then smiled.
Molly's return smile lit up the house, her eyes suddenly sparkling. Was she relieved? Was she wondering if she'd gone too far? It didn't matter. I suddenly sensed I would love Molly's company, though I was sure she knew that did not include Hank. I'd soon find out, if not today, maybe a day or so later. I hoped she knew. In the meantime, Molly was more than welcome, and I would gladly share the meal with her, and maybe some talk afterward—we'd figure out about what when we got to that point. Not having mixed much before, it might be an adventure.
"And I have some red wine, if not Chianti. Want a glass?" I asked feeling the warmth of the sudden friendliness.
"Oh, yeah, what's spaghetti without red wine of some sort?" she said as if we were old friends—close friends. It felt good, and I liked it. Molly was really surprising me.
We ate, had a couple of glasses of wine with our food, and were properly mellow when we were done, a few minor words of dinner conversation passing between us. Surprisingly, we readily agreed to do the dishes. This was something very new to me with any of my neighbors. I did feel as if we were old friends, though a cautionary thought tried to interfere—I pushed it aside. I'd had enough troubling thoughts for the day. Going to the sofa with a cup of coffee, I sensed Molly was as comfortable as I felt.
In a moment, Molly quietly said, "Thanks, Ellen. I appreciate it."
I knew what she meant, or thought I did. "For what? Feeding you from your own cooking?" I smiled, leaving it to her to say more if she wished.
"Yeah, that was nice. Maybe we can do it again." Then, that cutesy smile came back on her face, "Tomorrow?"
"Won't he be back?" I asked.
"No, at least not until late at night."
"Then tomorrow if you still wish it. There is an awful lot of food left," I said smiling.
A pleasant quiet moment of agreement passed, then, "You know, you're as nice as I thought you might be," Molly said out of the blue.
"Thank you. You too, you know," I answered, most definitely feeling it was true.
"No, Ellen. I mean, I thought you were a sweet person, and I wondered why we hadn't gotten together before... Oh, crap, I know why, at least on my part. Sorry. I guess you've figured out I had an inkling of how Hank might be if he thought he had a chance," she let out.
"Actually, no. I didn't have a clue. And honestly, I think I can share some of the blame for us—you and I—not getting together sooner. I haven't exactly been a model of social amiability, or availability, have I? No, I haven't," I answered my own question right away.
When Greg had died, there were many people that stopped by, some I barely knew, but who had known Greg. Naturally, most of the women hugged me, but very few conveyed a genuine sense of warmth. Molly, as I remembered, had given me a warm hug, and coming from her, as with those few others, I welcomed it. There was just something about Molly. Anyway, human warmth is very much desired, especially at times like that. It helped you keep a sense of connection, however minor it was. A kind of reminder of our need of other humans, if you will. Maybe if I had mixed more in the past this moment would have happened long ago. Of course we'd never know.
"Well, anyway, thanks for being so kind, so...understanding, and...and forgiving, I guess," Molly said quietly, her eyes softly distant. We were quiet for another moment, then, "I won't be trying to get together with you when Hank is here," she offered, again quietly, as if to reassure me.
The ensuing silence may have seemed strained, but actually, it was as if we were digesting what was said, and accepting it all. Somehow, Molly and I were understanding each other quickly, sort of making a silent pact between us that was tacitly understood.
"You know, if you're free," I began, "maybe we can take in a movie before supper. What do you think?" I asked without thought, but feeling good about it. I realized that I did like Molly, and sensed we could be friends, that maybe she needed a friend too. Anyway, her face brightened, and she smiled with a pleasantly questioning look on her face.
"Really? I mean, yeah, that'd be nice," she answered, her voice little-girl like and happy at the prospect. "I mean, it's not taking you away from anything, is it?"
"Just some boring drudgery. Nothing that can't be put off. Besides, we've worked hard, me in the yard, you in cooking, and all this talking, getting to know each other. We might as well do a good job of it, huh?" I said, a look of mock seriousness on my face that delighted Molly into a soft laugh.
We made our plans, then Molly left. At the door, her hand went to my arm, a serious look on her face. "Thanks again, Ellen, and good night," she said, though I had the impression that she'd thought to hug me.
"You're welcome, and thank you. See you tomorrow," I said.
* * * *
Though a part of me felt that I shouldn't have done it—my mind most likely—another part of me was glad that I did. Molly and I had a wonderful time. I had no idea she could be so enjoyable, and maybe that was the case with her too. She knew I'd not welcome Hank in my presence, and said as much to me and hadn't minced words, yet here she was with me, and enjoying herself as I was. Surely I didn't know much about them, not in any depth that is, so was it that Molly was bordering on being desperate to have a friend also? If so, why? Yes, Hank left her alone a lot on weekends, but that was really all I knew about them. That and that I'd been having some very good and warm vibes from Molly these two days.
"Glad you suggested the movie," Molly said as we warmed the left over spaghetti, and got the rest out too.
"It was fun. I had a good time."
"Think we can do it again sometime?" she asked carefully, not looking at me, not directly, her head down somewhat.
"Why not? When you're alone, or going to be alone, let me know. If I don't have anything else that needs doing, that might be good for us both, huh?"
"Yeah. It's been good today. Thanks again."
"Thank yourself too; I do," I said a mild grin on my face.
Girl talk—that's what we had after supper, but then time was growing short for Hank to return. I wondered if I saw a look of regret on Molly's face as she made with the words of leaving.
"I did have a good time. Thanks," Molly said, and this time did give me a quick hug before leaving. Naturally, I returned it.
Ready for work, and my shower taken, I climbed into my bed, my mind in its wondering mode. Molly had apparently replaced thoughts of Greg in my mind, and for that I was grateful. Those nebulous questions that were trying to come to me about Greg nine months after his death were tough to deal with all the time. Molly was about as tough, but that was because I didn't know her very well, just that I liked her more than I ever suspected I might, and we were really comfortable with each other. It's hard for two women to be together all day and the one faking enjoying the company. Molly wasn't faking, and I knew I wasn't.
With Hank back, I didn't see Molly since we all went to work. Friday evening, I decided to work in my new garden again. While marveling at doing it, my thoughts turned to Molly. Nothing special, just recognizing that Hank was probably home this weekend—Molly had been quite enchanting and good company. I had to wonder if I was hoping he'd be going out again so maybe I'd be seeing Molly this weekend too. It was kind of pitiful that Molly was the only person I had a personal relationship of any kind with for these last nine months.
On Saturday, I did my grocery shopping, and a few other things. Sunday I cleaned the house while I listened to my music, my mind idling on about this and that, and occasionally Molly, and what she was doing, how she was, thoughts like that. I'd felt so good about her that Molly was settling into my mind as a friend. Was one weekend enough to say she was a friend? I'd decided she was sincere, and I hoped we'd cultivate our friendship some more, Hank excluded, that is, which Molly seemed to want to do also. There was no doubt she didn't trust him, but I had to wonder about her saying she no longer tried to know where he was going when he left her on weekends. That was strange indeed.