Fiction,  flash fiction

He’s a Gardener

“I’m a gardener.” He said, matter of factly, “I garden.”

He was on the edge of the couch leaning over the coffee table, his knees pressed up against the edge. He was writing notes about something in his spiral notebook. He always wrote in pencil. His elbow rested on his knee and he didn’t look up at her. He kept taking notes. He was preoccupied.

“But I’m talking about when you talk to people” she shrieked, getting his attention. He looked up, leaned back and watched her. His beard was so thick and dark around his lips she couldn’t tell if he was smirking. His eyes gave away nothing.

“I’m not talking about gardening, Ricky! I know you garden. I’m talking about when you talk to people and you are so harsh! It’s almost cruel. And I know you, Ricky. I know you aren’t cruel. It’s just that you’re harsh. Abrasive? Is that it? No, it’s more than abrasive. You rattle people. They can’t even talk to you. I don’t understand. What is the point in being like that?”

“I’m a gardener.” He said. “I garden.”

His voice was soft and thoughtful. She was taken aback. Did nothing stir him? His calm drove her crazy. His steadiness shook her. Why wasn’t he listening?

“Come here,” he said.

She moved toward him, called by the calm authority of his voice. She sat. She tried to keep her back stiff in defiance. He stuck his finger under her armpit to tickle her and she reacted fast, curling back to dodge his finger and he took that opportunity to pull her up against him, tight. She was melting into his touch already. She wished she could hold on to her anger. She wanted to fight.

“I garden everything and sometimes I garden with minds.”

She rolled her eyes but he continued.

“People’s minds are frozen over, impenetrable to new ideas. The truth is a seed and all I do is plant it.”
She was listening to him, feeling how his chest moved when he spoke.

“Once an idea takes root, however small, it will grow. All it needs to grow is confirmation, repetition, frequency. And that happens when I walk away, when the conversation is over. You can’t ignore your eyes once you know what to look for. Patterns unfold exactly as I described. It’s impossible to stop that seed from growing. Each confirming news story, the seed is watered. Each time an event plays out exactly as I predict, more water. The general unease that develops is the light, like the sun, feeding that little seedling. My harsh words are merely the spade, preparing the soil for the seed. It’s easy to dismiss pleasantries, the truth comes beating against you to wake you up from a daze. I stab the frozen ground with my spade to loosen the soil. The harder the ground, the harder I hit. There’s fertile soil in almost everyone.

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