In the six weeks since Evan had retired he had become a passionate gardener. He hadn’t really enjoyed it before, probably because sensed he fell short of his wife’s expectations. That is: Joyce kept a well organised home and it extended outside too. She attended to her flowers, and the vegetables that were flourishing well were Evan’s babies and his alone.
They stated off sown in the greenhouse and shortly after the seedlings appeared and then they were transplanted into three inch pots and then five inch pots as they out grew the last. There were lettuce, rocket sown into granite coloured washing up bowls – because they were cheaper and the size he preferred to the troughs and tubs from the garden centre. Radishes, beetroot, spinach, carrots and spring onions were in larger blue tarpaulin bags; broccoli, courgettes, sprouts, savoy cabbages, tomatoes, beans and peas were in individual terracotta pots, as were the herbs in their varying stages of development.
It may have seemed a haphazard approach to his new love but Evan liked it. Joyce didn’t. It was decided that Evan had to create a raised bed and transplant his vegetables there, all nice and neat, just as Joyce liked it.
He admitted, when it was all done, that the plot was more organised and accessible: he could walk round and tend to his plants; talking and caring for their needs.
Evan spent most of the fine days outside either in the garden with his plants or sitting and reading one of his crime novels. He’d often look up - unnoticed behind his UV reaction glasses- at the kitchen window, at his wife scowling at his pride; his focus of attention. This only encouraged him even more to stay out of her way.
One afternoon, Joyce was in the garden, enjoying the sun on the lounger. She wore her baggy white shorts with a yellow vest, shades and a wide brimmed straw hat pulled over her face. Her magazines were strewn over the patio were she’d lost consciousness. She began to snore. Evan tried to ignore the wet, sloppy sounds emanating from under the hat. Who would have that Joyce, with her high pitched voice could have such a low ranging snore.
Evan headed off to the kitchen, selecting some salad veg along the way. He poured himself fresh lemonade and tapped on the open window.
‘Sweetie? Do you want a drink?’
Her hat moved. Her arms were flapping about like she had shuddered, and then they flopped by her side. Evan thought she had probably swatted a bee. He took a tray of bread, salad and drinks and sat down.
‘Sweetie? I’ve got you a drink. It's water; tepid just as you like it.’
Evan poured it on the bed.
Joyce didn’t stir.
‘Sweetie? What are your doing under there?’ he said, lifting the sun hat carefully.
Her curly, dyed hair fell over her face. Evan pushed it back and caught his ring round her trestles. He unwound the chestnut brown strands intertwined with green highlights. Green.
‘Sweetie? What have you done?’ he said, with mock horror.
He looked over at the raised bed and noticed that the pea sticks that had supported the six-foot plant had given way. The plant’s tendrils were stretching out, curling and grabbing at anything it could; unable to stand without its crutches. The tendrils had reached Joyce; she wore them well like a jade choker.
‘Sweet Pea? What have you done?’ he said, in a light theatrical manner.
Evan unravelled the sinewy green fingers and put the sun hat back over his wife’s head. He poured himself another glass of lemonade and some water for his beloved.