Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (with apolgies to John Berendt)

The whisper runs through the garden like a faint breeze, lightly masked by the nighttime serenade of frogs and insects.  It begins with the frantic mumbling of the smallest beet at the very end of the row.  “The dandelion!” it cries, in a tiny, frightened voice.
“Dandelion!” mocks a tall bean plant, its tone scornful and defensive.  “Try growing next to a wall of  stinkweed.” 
Laughter from a multitude of weeds adds to the growing storm of whispering voices.  To the beet, the sound is enough to freeze the scant water trembling within its tiny stem.  ‘It’s leaning over me,” it cries again, faintly.  “I won’t be able to grow.”
“Pick on someone your own size,” begs a voice from the row of peas planted nearby.
‘Fat lot of good the peas are,” murmurs another bean plant.  “They lie there all day, and we’re left to fight the enemy.”
“Like we have a choice?” whines yet another pea plant.  ‘If the farmer was paying attention, we’d  have a fence to climb.  Then you’d see what we have to offer.  But where is the farmer?”  The voice overflows with cynicism and despair;  it’s question rhetorical.
“Sitting on the ledge of her dwelling, drinking that strange water that makes her laugh too loudly.  It makes her step on us when she comes down into the garden, late at night.”  It is the delicate fringe of a carrot planted at  the far right of the garden that speaks.  It has the best view of the house, and is considered to be an authority on all things ‘farmer’ by most of the other vegetables.
The small beet ventures a fear filled glance at the tall Dandelion looming over it.  “I didn’t ask to be put here,’ the dandelion protests in a voice not unlike James Dean, if he were an effeminate weed.  “I should be on the lawn with my friends, but I got stuck here instead.  Just wait until my hair changes, then I’ll be seen in all kinds of places.”  The dandelion laughs hysterically and the plants nearby shiver in silent protest.
One of the beans sends a silent creeper that wraps around the stem of a chickweed plant which seems to have sprung up overnight.  “I’ve got one!  I’m holding on!  It’s going  to be okay, everyone!  Its going to be…!”  The voice is snuffed quickly, without the slightest sound.  A shudder ruffles the leaves of every vegetable in the garden.
We must not give up hope,’ cries a tomato plant.   “I can see the farmer from here.  I think she’s getting out her weeding tools!”  The plant swings its leaves toward a cluster of foxtails creeping into the soil behind it.  “You’ll all be gone before you know it!”
“Yaaaaay! cry the vegetables, the little beet in particular cheering as loudly as possible.
“Unless she decides to weed tonight.”
“No!” cry the others.  “She learned her lesson the last time!”  More voices chime in as the the fear spreads.  The  smallest beet cries one more time and then collapses to the ground.  “Tell the other seedlings that I tried to hold on.”  It’s voice is very faint.
“Don’t give up,” urges the giant bean plant.  “Morning will be here before you know it.  The other farmer will return, and all will be well.”  Cries of ‘the other farmer!’ ring out around the garden, but are drowned by laughter from the various weeds.
“Laugh if you must,” cries a cucumber plant, desperately trying to lift its tired leaves from the dry ground.  “But we will prevail.  The farmer always come through, in the end.”  A hushed silence falls after the cucumber’s words.  It might be out of respect from their fallen comrade, the tiny beet.  Maybe its a truce, after a long, hot, and unwatered day in the sun.  The vegetables sigh, the weeds chuckle, and the garden is quiet at last.  “The farmer,” is the last words heard from the smallest beet.  “Amen,” says the tomato.

Published by Judith Pettersen

Judith Pettersen is an author living in Canada. She blogs about her life in the north and the ups and downs of being a writer.

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