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Grandmother’s Garden

by Vic Motier

Due to some unfortunate circumstances, I drove past my grandmother’s house for the first time in ten years. She is no longer alive. A new family moved in years ago. What should have been a yard filled with jungles of plants that would have your legs itching for days, covering the pathway and all things civilized, was filled with polite, tidy flowers that seemed to apologize for their own appearance. Dare they cross paths with a centimeter of concrete, they’d have no choice but to wither and die, an atonement for daring to live. My grandmother would never have allowed such behavior—any attempt at order would result in a smiling scold. This new yard had no character. No charm. Just the obvious desire to satisfy the neighbors and their bi-monthly catalogs.

Many other things are amiss. The worst part, however, the very worst part, is the gate. A tiny little white picket sits boldly on the walkway. There is no fence. Just this little gate taunting guests with its pointless lock undone and done again at every visit. My grandmother would never have a gate. She would never close people out or delay their arrival. She’d be appalled at the current state of her garden.

Furious, I drive home. Don’t the people living in my grandmother’s house know that it’s not theirs to change? Do they think that they can just come in and rearrange the furniture to their liking, too? Paint the walls? Take the vases from the windowsills? This is still my grandmother’s house. Just because she is dead does not mean she’s not allowed to have her house. Her garden.

I arrive home and pull the old string to turn on the hallway closet light. Digging through the faded board games and lonely cables to find a phone book, I know there must be one here somewhere—my parents are horrible at getting rid of things. I search and search. Nothing. I tear apart my house, cobwebbed hair, sweaty-faced. I sigh. No phone book in sight.

I grab my parents’ landline and call the first number that pops into my mind, hoping I could still be holding on to this important piece of information. No luck. It’s the number for the pizza place down the street from my childhood home. I dial another number. My aunt. I hang up quickly; she cannot know what I am up to. I cannot find another number tucked away in my memories. I do, however, remember the area code.

I start with the area code, then seven 0s. Nothing. I change the last 0 to a 1. Not right. I do this until my body forces me to sleep a few thousand numbers in. I need to reach the house. I need to reach my her. My grandmother. I need to tell her to look outside. To tell her to look at what they have done to her garden.

Vic Motier is a proud Philadelphian with a love for films, writing, acting, and fiber art. They can be found on Instagram @vic.motier


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