The Daffodils

13 Aug

The grass was greener on the other side of the fence but only because ever since Haymon built that fence the grass on Malcolm’s side was impossible to keep alive, and so was anything else he tried to grow. Malcolm was on the downward slope. Water seeks its own level but that isn’t necessarily anything profound it’s just gravity and so rain, sprinklers, even morning dew weakened everything that grew, or tried to, on that downslope. There was something about that fence.

So this was the day Malcolm made a new attempt at fortifying the soil. Steer manure in May had no impact. Well, it did make the yard stink, but now with the shift into autumn Malcolm tried enriching the dirt with potting soil from the garden store. At six bucks a square yard he bought as much as would fit into the big red cart, which was two bags more than would fit into the trunk of his car so after this he’d have to go vacuum the back seat.

Heymon had built the fence when he got his goats. He’d hired unskilled laborers from outside the hardware store to do the job. Malcolm came out to see. Haymon stood leaning on his walking stick as he watched one laborer dig the post holes and the other mix the concrete. “Good fences make good neighbors!” he said to Malcolm waving and sounding friendly but not looking away from the digger.

Now a year later Malcolm liked the goats, even talked with them sometimes. He wanted to bring life back to the dead patch and use the story to prove his principle that even after loss another spring can come. He imagined the congregation rapt with spiritual awe, he hoped for wet eyes from Melissa Maier who always had some warm comment to make about the wisdom she got from him every Sunday. But no matter how much he focused on theme over content in this story, the fact was his grass was always dead and nothing would grow within twelve feet of that fence.

After watering the refreshed soil, cleaning out the car, putting away the tools, washing up, making dinner and watching a little TV while crafting out his sermon for the next day, he fell asleep dreaming of Iris, his wife, gone five years now, and the daffodils she’d planted out there in that yard he hadn’t seen since she’d passed away. He so loved how they just popped up every spring – happy yellow surprises over their thirty years in that house.

He was awakened at dawn by the gentle bleating of the goats. Out the window a low fog clung to the ground where he’d dug. Maybe now the soil would recover and something green would grow.

The sermon was about hope, and he made his message about the peace that can come with resignation and the fact that sometimes that’s all you get – but if you accept it, it can be enough for a time being to keep your spirits up.

He got the usual handshakes and thanks after church, and varying comments of appreciation or quandary. Melissa Maier, as always, shook his hand and placed a second hand on top embracing the handshake to say thank you, making eye contact for a slight spell. There was no evidence of sweet tears of epiphany in her eyes, but he held on a little longer this time, noticing that her earrings had little daffodils on them.

2 Responses to “The Daffodils”


  1. The Daffodils « jeanosullivan - September 30, 2012

    […] more of The Daffodils and other authors’ responses to the prompt at The Character Project. Share […]

  2. The Daffodils | Each Piece - March 14, 2013

    […]   […]

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