The Garden of Love

This was an absurdist piece for a creative writing practicum. It's a bit explicit. 

2018

 

Francesca learned how to sew in the small town of Ispra in the north of Italy. Her sewing kit came with her in a cargo ship across the Atlantic and into a home the color of cornflakes in the suburbs of Springfield, Massachusetts. Her husband was a steelworker, or a metal smither, or something having to do with a natural element. Sometimes, when he came home from work, he would unpeel Francesca’s diabetic socks and give her a calf rub. The greasy streaks on her legs spelled love. Francesca birthed four children, and the second child was Sofia. Sofia ran away with a trucker called Eddie when she was 19 and came home 10 months later with a baby in her arms called Rosemary.

 

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There’s no gate to the garden of love, just a footpath off the highway with exposed boulders, weeds, flattened beer cans and rotting apples marking the trail. It is a quite well-known path, and walkers are always surprised when they don’t find a distinct marker.

 

Rosemary stumbles her way through rows of rose bushes to reach Gerald. Thorns rip at her arms and tear at the seams of her grandmother’s handsewn A-line dress. The gardeners haven’t been in to trim the bushes in a while it seems. Her dress is made of gingham from the Clipboard Discount Fabrics shop in Springfield, blue and white checkers. Blood soaks the fabric and she looks like a patriotic mess of spots and streaks, stars and stripes.

 

Rosemary meets Gerald and he makes a blasphemous comment about blood and thorns but there’s no God in the lover’s garden to bother them with repentance. Poison ivy blossoms like a pink lily all over Gerald’s naked groin region.

 

“Rosemary, you took so long that I had to look for you and now poison ivy’s giving me hell.”

 

“I’m sorry Gerald.”

 

“It’s alright, you can scratch my back with willow bark, that would help.”

 

Alright Gerald. I’m sorry.”

 

Rosemary takes off her bloody dress and begins to search for willow bark. She strips a tree bare and actually meets a bear while doing so. He tells her to only strip the tree if the willow would help her grow. She asks him who Her is? And he says he doesn’t know. His big hairy bear shoulders shrug up and down. She does the same and notices how hairy his back is compared to hers. She suddenly remembers that she forgot to get a Brazilian wax and lets out a gasp. Gerald doesn’t like hairy vagina. The bear lumbers away. The poor tree is raw and streaked like the greasy stripes on Francesca’s legs.

 

In the meantime, Gerald walks through the garden and finds Greta and Dave. Greta has a piña colada resting on her luscious thigh and a beehive atop her pretty little head. Dave’s abdomen is drenched in honey and he begins to attract red ants. He yelps in pain and curses Greta for her Wednesday hairdo.

 

Goddammit Greta -- go to the hairdresser!”

 

Greta has already been to the hairdresser twice today. First, her long hair collected dust and gave Dave allergies, then her bob was so sharp it sliced him across the cheek. She thought he would love the beehive but it attracted biting red ants. Greta gets up, balancing the beehive precariously, pours her pina colada on the line of ants marching across Dave’s rock solid 6 pack to cool him down, and heads to the hairdresser’s.

 

Gerald sits down next to Dave and pulls a straw out of his ass. He leans over and sucks the honey piña colada out of the deep crevices of his muscled stomach and lies down in the sun. Dave crafts a quilt out of 4-leaf clovers and lays it over Gerald’s lily pink thighs.

 

“This will protect you from sunburn.”

 

The quilt begins to rise until Rosemary comes back with willowbark strapped to her back. Gerald makes another blasphemous joke that falls flat because there’s no God to be offended. She replies with, I have no cross to bear, but that falls flat too, because there are no ears listening. Except for the ears of Rocco, a baby whose mum lets him out to graze in the day in the garden. His mum believes that this provides him with the right amount of nourishment (sun, nature, exposure to love, etc.) for proper development. Rocco is a happy baby and finds most things amusing. He collects bottle caps and nibbles them until someone concerned enough takes them away and replaces it with something softer. His teeth are certainly coming in nicely; his mum is proud.

 

Gerald and Dave begin to make love and Rosemary unfastens the willow bark strapped to her back. She lays them out for Gerald, then falls asleep. Sofia, her mother, is heard calling from the hilltop. Rocco coos, and laughs his little happy baby laugh. Normally Rocco is brought inside by this hour, but his mum learned from Dr. Napflower yesterday that moonlight is also good for development.

 

Rosemary wakes up hours later and watches Gerald and Dave sleeping together, tangled in an itchy embrace. It looks as if their bodies breathe as one. Rosemary wonders if Gerald needs someone to scratch him in his sleep and then realizes that Greta never returned from the hairdresser. She looks down at her arms and someone, teenagers most likely, sharpied penisis and daisies and the anarchist symbol all over her arms. She uncrosses her blood-caked legs and searches for the path of exposed boulders, weeds, flattened beer cans, and rotting apples.

 

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Francesca, alone in her room at midnight, takes dark grey eyeshadow from her vanity and paints her spider-veined legs up and down, up and down, up and down, until her tense shoulders relax into the memory of love and she falls fast asleep.

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