Germination


by Holly Day

It was as though even the flowers knew he had to go. They covered the clumsy mound of dirt in the garden in so quickly he might as well not even have been there. By the end of the week, the mound was completely hidden by tiny shoots and sprouts, and by the end of the month, the entire patch was so heavily rooted it would have been impossible to sift through the soil in a casual search. It would have taken a shovel with a man's foot behind it, and what man would be so bold as to come into her impeccable yard and dig up such a perfect patch of new growth?

This was how she knew it was something that was meant to be. If even the flowers and the ivy were trying to bury James so quickly, then they must have wanted him dead, too. If the ground didn't want him, if the yard had thought of condemning her, surely, the ground would have stayed bare, maybe even yellowed around the outline of his corpse, or perhaps found some way to work the body back to the surface in the same way that pieces of broken glass and rock found its way out of the soil.

But no. The back yard seemed to welcome James' death with far-flung tenacious little teeth. The plants that sprung up where his corpse lay hidden seemed to do especially well. Dutchman's pipe and English ivy sprung from his chest and wrapped themselves up the side of the nearby trees, while daisies and buttercups climbed determinedly out of his skull. It was as though he had been laid to rest with pockets full of germinating seeds, it all happened so fast.

There was nothing particularly different about the flowers that finally opened, though. Susan had half-expected that the plants would bear some mark of the decay beneath them, human faces inside the purple cheeks of pansies, drops of blood from the throats of the blue morning glories that sang open with the rising sun.  But all was quiet and so completely accepting. There would be no retribution for her crime.

When the police came to search the house, they, of course, found nothing. His letters and clothes had all been shredded and used as decorative mulch, the buttons removed and put away in the sewing baskets, his shoes and belt cut into strips and woven into macramé plant hangers and wall hangings. She'd flushed his cigarettes and filled the ashtrays with bromeliads and cactus, turned his shoes into quirky planters and washed her sheets. He just wasn't there.

Even the dogs couldn't find him. The police dogs wandered around her backyard, confused and upset, because they knew the body was there, somewhere, but couldn't find it. Her heart skipped a beat when one of them started digging haphazardly along the path where she had dragged the body, but after a few minutes, it turned just short and peed on the side of her great birch tree. The other two dogs came over and smelled the piss dripping down the side of the tree, then whimpered, turning back to stand next to their handlers.

And then they left and it was all quiet again. She went outside and stood next to the garden, right next to the spot where the man was disintegrating beneath the earth, his body overrun with long white roots finding new ways inside his skin and wrapping around his bones.  

"It's such a beautiful way to go," she whispered to the wind, the image of the man flailing in his last moments, trying desperately to pull free the bloody bread knife half-buried in his skull almost completely forgotten. "You couldn't ask for a more beautiful place to die."




BIO: Holly Day is a housewife and mother of two living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her poetry has recently appeared in Hawai'i Pacific Review, The Oxford American, and Slipstream. Her book publications include Music Composition for Dummies, Guitar-All-in-One for Dummies, and Music Theory for Dummies, which has recently been translated into French, Dutch, Spanish, Russian, and Portuguese.