an excerpt from a fiction short story
His eyes scanned the ground with ease. It had become second nature for him to remember everything that one had to look for in a skipping rock. Natalia had taught him on the banks of a river that was, much like the other details of his life, too far away to remember the name of. There were sun-stained memories that littered the floors of his mind like piles of distorted polaroids. Every now and again he would glance over them and recall a moment where she’d kissed him tenderly or when he’d plucked a daisy from the wet, thriving earth to present it to her in a futile attempt at the preservation of romance. She’d been overjoyed but he’d never quite understood the appeal of picked flowers.
What do you do with something that stops growing? The thought haunted him. After Natalia’s passing he had tried to garden. Not out of his free will. They had pushed him to; the same ones that had told him he would eventually remember every version of her fondly. The same ones whose faces faded to paint smudges. It was more accurate to call them liars, but they were hopeful. There’s a difference between someone who hopes and someone who lies, and it’s all in the motivation. But the gardening was a suggestion either made out from pure amity or modest stupidity. They’d given him the seeds and the equipment. They had even patched up his yard, completely convinced that some form of normalcy would allow him the luxury of acceptance; as if his reality hadn’t been pulled apart by the seams in her absence and could be fixed with the simplicity of a newfound hobby. They’d been wrong and it was evident in the neat rows of shriveled almost-tomatoes and limp, wet-paper lettuce buds that now plagued his front yard. After a while, not even the rabbits bothered nibbling at the rotting piles. He’d passed the fly-infested garden on his walk to the river. Under the guise of moonlight, it didn’t seem as bad. It was almost beautiful- another morsel of proof that he couldn’t maintain something as finite as life.