May 13: Parthenocissus quinquefolia

This came from a prompt suggesting using the words: garden centre, envy, creep. I really like how this one worked out and I’m going to expand on it (if only slightly) and tidy it up for submission.

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Parthenocissus quinquefolia

Virginia peered around the Pinus rigida. There, there was Karen, looking through the foliar sprays and chemical fertilizers. She felt enormous satisfaction to know that her suspicions had proven to be true. One look at Karen’s Phlox subulata or, even worse, her Trollius europaeus and you knew that she was fiddling around and using Miracle Gro or something of that ilk. And that wasn’t just soapy water she was spraying on them to discourage pests. Oh no.

Virginia pulled back to be more safely out of sight. What should she do now? She needed evidence. Her word that she had seen Karen rifling through the chemical concoctions at the garden centre would not be enough. No. She needed unambiguous proof.

Slinking back to her car, Virginia mulled it over. She was not sure which part of the situation she found more disturbing, Karen’s flaunting of her behaviour or the lack of interest the other members of the garden club took in it. There were rules for a reason.

Driving back home, the solution came to Virginia in a flash. She would stake out Karen’s backyard and take photographic evidence. This was perfect. She would get some (hopefully) nice and clear shots of Karen fertilizing and spraying, then she would take samples from the containers and present all of the materials together at the next garden club meeting. They would not be able to ignore her any longer.

 

It had been a long few hours, sitting in her car, slouched down so that she was as unrecognizable as possible. But finally Karen had come home, pulling out various items from the trunk and taking them directly around the house towards the backyard. Perfect.

Virginia slipped out of the car and walked down the block in the opposite direction, turning when she reached the access point that led to the alley that ran behind the houses. It was fortunate, she thought, that Karen lived in an area like this. In her own (much nicer, she thought) neighbourhood, this sort of surveillance would have been much more difficult.

She walked briskly down the alley, slowing as she approached Karen’s yard. She looked through the slight gap between fence boards. There. She could see Karen easily. The door to her garden shed was open and she was moving in and out, obviously organizing her day’s purchases. Virginia took out her camera and quietly turned it on. She raised it to her eye and tried to focus through the gap.

Click.

The sound was slight, but it was so quiet in the area otherwise that Karen actually stopped and looked around, though not in Jennifer’s direction. Virginia realized she was holding her breath. What to do?

Karen went back to what she was doing.

Virginia watched carefully. Maybe she could just wait until Karen went inside and then slip into the yard and photograph the items in the shed.

As Virginia considered, she shifted her weight from one foot to the other.

Clunk.

She had accidentally hit a stone at the fence.

Karen looked up again, looking around more carefully this time.

Virginia felt herself shrink. Maybe she should go away and come back later to this.

No. She wanted to get this done. She wanted to show the other women at the garden club how right she was.

She waited and watched. Karen soon finished and closed the door of the shed. She glanced around the yard one last time before heading back toward the house. Virginia waited, patiently. Once Karen was out of sight, she looked at her watch. At least five minutes, she figured. Give Karen time to get well inside and doing something else.

Time dragged on. Finally the five minutes were up. Virginia walked along the fence to where there was a door set into it. She pulled gently at the handle, but the door did not move. She pulled again, a bit more firmly. She was sure there was not a lock on it. She would have remembered that, the last time the club met here.

She let go, considered and then grasped the handle firmly and gave it a sharp tug. The door flew open.

Standing on the other side, a grim smile on her face, was Karen.

“Why, Virginia! Fancy seeing you here.”

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May 12: Beginnings

This story came from two different places. A plot generator gave me airplane, traditional values and misguided, which made me think of this guy I once sat next to on a really long flight. Anyway, I’ve actually used the experience in story-form before, but this time it went into different directions (partly because I chose a completely different narrator to tell the story).

I’m not sure what I think of the result here. The ending is too abrupt and not properly foreshadowed. If I were to expand on this, I would have to give the narrator some proper backstory to explain his thoughts and reactions.

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Beginnings

He settled down into his seat, slowly making minute adjustments, tucking the small, questionable pillow behind his back and slipping his own magazines into the pocket on the back of the seat in front of him. Earphones on his lap beside his mp3 player. He felt ready.

“Excuse me.”

He looked up with an expression of annoyance already on his face. It was a younger man with an untidy bag and an untucked shirt.

“I guess this is my seat.”

He sighed deeply but tried not to let it show.

There was much rummaging around and banging about as the other man got himself settled.

“So, where are you going?”

The older man considered the younger. What was there to say? He did not want to being a conversation of any sort, but his natural sense of politeness was too much to overcome.

“London.”

“Just this flight then? You’re darn lucky, you are.”

“I suppose.”

“I’m off to Kiev, I am.”

“I’ve heard it is lovely.”

“Yeah. Never been there before. But I’m going to see my girlfriend.”

“Well, that should be a nice time, then.”

The older man said this firmly, trying to infuse his words with a sense of finality.

“I hope so. I really hope it all goes well.”

The younger man spoke with some nervousness that the older chose to ignore. Fortunately, two flight attendants were standing at the front of their section now, beginning the safety mime while a video with the details played on the individual screens.

The older man closed his eyes as they began to taxi, hoping the younger would take the hint and let him be. Without intending to, he fell asleep and did not wake until an hour or so into the flight.

Unfortunately, as soon as his eyes were open, his unasked for companion noticed and picked up where he had left off.

“Good nap? I wish I could sleep on planes. I’m a bit too nervous for it.”

The older man noticed the drink clutched in the younger man’s hand. It probably wasn’t just Coke.

“I’m nervous about meeting Katia, too.”

“Katia?” The older man asked without thinking.

“My girlfriend. We haven’t met in person properly like, yet. I met her on the internet. A friend told me about it, how you could find women who were looking for a good strong man.”

“I see.”

“My friend met a woman. She’s his wife now. And that’s how I met Katia. I’m going to meet her. And her parents too. I’m real excited, but like I said, a bit nervous as well.”

“Of course.”

“What if she doesn’t like me? Yeah. That would be a real let-down.”

“Yes.”

“But I want a nice, traditional girl, not one of these modern women with a career and too busy to have babies. I want a girl like my mom. I live with my mom,  nobody like her.”

The older man was both fascinated and repelled. He couldn’t imagine how this was going to work out. Maybe Katia was looking for a man like this. Probably not, but she would probably settle.

The conversation continued as the miles ticked away. The younger man described Katia (and even dug out a photo of her, a pretty yet bland face with a shy smile, she looked all of eighteen) and explained how he wanted to bring her ‘home’. He talked about his job, working with computers and his hobbies, role playing games. The older man gave up and listened.

The plane was landing and it was with great relief that the older man turned to his erstwhile companion to say good-bye.

“I hope things work out for you.”

“Thanks. I’m sure they will.”

As the older man got him and joined the queue in the aisle of the plane he realized that he really had meant that. Maybe there was something to what the younger man was doing. Heck, maybe he should try it himself.

 

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