The Garden

Just an experimental story. I'll update the summary once I decide where this is going.

On the corner of Paris Avenue was a garden belonging to Miss Petula Milk, and it was the most extraordinary sight the town had even seen. Instead of marigolds and daffodils, the soil sprouted shards of speckled sea-glass, and where there might have been cherry blossom trees, twisted statues of bronze and granite stood guard over the garden path. Wind chimes assembled from old beer bottles tinkled above fountains of overturned buckets, a rusty bathtub filled with silver coins sat like a planter-box beside the fence. There was not a living thing in sight, for even Miss Petula rarely ventured outside the safety of her house. In all the years I walked past the yard to and from school, I never saw her so much as step through the front door. 

We lived in a small town in southern Oklahoma, and it always seemed to me that the town was isolated, somehow, bubbled off from the rest of the world. People in Oasis Rock tended to keep to themselves and came off as dry as the desert to outsiders, often cold, even, to each other. The houses stood side by side in a sturdy row on two residential streets. The drug store stood across from the grocery store; the post office from the school, in an orderly sort of square. There was one park, adjoining the school, and one church, which doubled as a city hall, when there was any official business to take care of. The families in the houses had lived there for years and years, until their histories and the history of the town joined together in their minds, and they became Oasis Rock. 

Miss Petula was one of those people who had lived every decade of her life in Oasis Rock, in the same house on the same corner that her mother had lived in, and her mother before that. Rumor had it that she had gone away to college decades ago, at some school on the coast, and that when she came back it was obvious she had been changed. Her parents died and she had taken over the house, transforming it overnight into a radical wasteland that polluted the quiet stature of the town. She had never married, never worked, but had simply disappeared into her fortress, since which time nearly forty years had passed with hardly a glimpse of her. Only Joseph Markel, who delivered her groceries, could claim to have stepped inside her wrought-iron gate, and even then he had only gone so far as the front door. She was a mystery, and a distraction, but we left her well enough alone.

One morning in early April, walking home from the fourth grade, I noticed that her gate was ajar, though it had always been locked, and that two strange policemen were swarming over the yard. By that evening the news had spread though out the town that Miss Petula Milk had been found dead by Joseph Markel early in the morning. Her house was purchased by the mayor's daughter and her new husband, and within a few weeks, the garden had been replaced with sprouts of grass and cherry blossom trees.

The End

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