Reap and Sow.
Mia gazed at the plants and shrubs that stood on the parched grass beside her and knew that they would look just right bordering the back wall in the garden. Her mother, who was sunbathing behind her, would love them because the colours that the flowers produced were her favourite. Red and pink.
Mia glanced up at the sky. It was a clear azure blue, the sun high and glassy and hot. She pulled her sun hat lower to shield her eyes then sat back on the dry grass and listened for a bit. It was incredibly peaceful. All she could hear was the drone of bees nearby and the clicking of grasshoppers in the hedgerow. It was one of the advantages of living in the countryside.
She took a deep breath, enjoying the scent of cut grass then she picked up a spade and began digging. There was much work to be done before the day was finished. The spade she was using belonged to her grandmother who was a keen gardener too and as such it was well used. A couple of splinters pierced her skin but Mia didn’t notice because her mind was on her twenty first birthday that was due in a week’s time. She was going to have a celebration, her first. She lived with her parents and her mother had always been strict about things like parties. In fact, thought Mia, she was strict about everything. Mia cast a quick glance behind her. Her mother was stretched out on a sun lounger, her legs smeared in sun lotion, her sandals hanging off her painted toes. She was gazing at Mia through huge sunglasses and Mia turned away again. She knew that she should assert herself and move out but her mother always harped on about the number of reasons why she shouldn’t. She could hear her voice in her head now.
‘And what would you do if you did move out eh? You’re not clever like your sister. You’d never get a decent job like hers and you’re not even that much to look at Mia to be honest. You make no effort with yourself. Anyway, I need you here to help look after your grandmother for a while. You know she’s not right, her minds going and I can’t do it on my own.’
Mia stabbed the ground with the spade as she thought of her elder sister, Katy. Pretty, intelligent Katy who could do no wrong, whom everyone respected and admired, who had a well paid job and apartment in the city. For a moment, Mia felt self pity well up inside her but she quickly and expertly suppressed it and carried on digging.
So, she thought, her mother was a control freak and her sister was perfect, according to everyone else. And her father? Well, her father wasn’t any better. He was overweight and drank too much and when he spoke to her, it was normally to poke fun at her. He seemed to enjoy winding her up, and then there were the looks he gave her: hooded, guarded looks that filled her with disgust because she knew what those looks were about and she knew that fathers weren’t supposed to stare at their daughters in that way. It had started when he had walked in her as she’d been showering. Before he had retreated, he had swept his gaze over her wet body and there had been no mistaking the lasciviousness in his eyes.
Mia pushed thoughts of her father from her mind and continued digging, pulling the weeds from the baked earth and watching the ants and spiders run in all directions.
Really, she thought, the only person she could talk to was her grandmother. They had always been close, ever since her grandfather had died a few years ago. Her grandmother always knew what to say or do if she was upset or lonely, even though, these days, her mind was failing her.
Setting down the spade for a minute, Mia ran a sticky hand through her dark hair and held her face up to the sun, enjoying the heat on her pale skin. She longed to lie down and soak up the rays like her mother but there was housework to be done after she’d finished the garden. Her mother was too busy spending time with Katy who was visiting from the city today. Mia likened her life to that of Cinderella, only she knew that there was no prince waiting for her. She’d long discovered that. Her favourite fairy stories had lain discarded and dust covered, just like her dreams.
She thought of Katy again, who was all red lipstick and tight skin and salon cut glossy hair. Mia would sit in miserable silence as her sister droned on and on about how brilliant her life was, all the while casting Mia smirking looks. They had never gotten on. Katy had been cruel and bullying as a child and she hadn’t really changed much.
Mia gripped the spade tighter, more splinters piercing her skin, and she angrily plunged it into the soil, her mouth taut. She dug hard, sweat glistening on her forehead and sliding down her plump face. Behind her, she could hear her mother and sister talking and she knew they were saying things about her. She tried to ignore them but their hateful laughter irritated her, then she heard her father’s voice and turned to look. He was sat on the swinging love seat. He was watching her again, his eyes mocking. Mia quickly turned away, suddenly feeling tears sting her eyes. She let them drip onto the earth, watching as an ant wriggled and struggled in the salty liquid of one of her tears.
After a while, Mia laid down her tools and stretched her aching back. She needed a long cold drink. She stood up and stretched again then turned and looked at her mother and sister. They were leaning close together and she could hear them whispering. Mia walked over to them.
“Mum? Katy?” she said. “I’ve something to show you.”
They ignored her so Mia bent and gazed into the face of her mother and then she grabbed hold of her right arm and roughly pulled her mother’s bloodstained body from the lounger and dragged it over to the large grave she had just dug, blood from the twenty stab wounds leaving a glistening trail on the grass. Mia glanced briefly at her mother’s frozen, shocked face then she rolled her body into the hole. She walked back to Katy who stared at her without seeing her. Katy’s perfect hair was blood specked and messy, her red mouth a perfect match for the red slash on her neck. Mia smiled at her then she grabbed hold of her sister and pulled and dragged her to the hole. She pushed her in on top of her mother ignoring the sound of their skulls cracking together.
Mia arched her back again then turned to the swinging seat where her father sat. He had slumped slightly, his head tilting to one side as if he was trying to see up her skirt which he probably was, Mia thought. She walked over to him then bent and stared into his dulled, hooded eyes.
“It’s rude to stare daddy,” she said. “I know what you’re thinking, pervert!”
She grabbed him under his arms and, puffing and panting, she pulled him from the seat. He flopped to the floor like a sack of jelly. Mia exhaled then she took a deep breath and slowly and with effort, dragged his body over to the grave. She took a minute to get her breath back then she knelt and rolled him in on top of her mother and sister. There wasn’t much room left but it would be fine, she thought, once she had piled some of the earth back on and planted the shrubs and flowers on top. They would certainly be fertilised well, she thought with a smile.
By the time she had completed that job, she was aching all over. All she wanted now was a long cool shower and a tall glass of iced tea. First though. She fetched a watering hose from the shed and hosed down the stained grass then she picked up her tools and made her way indoors.
The smell of apple pie hit her as soon as she entered the kitchen and she inhaled deeply. Her grandmother was standing at the counter rolling out pastry. She was rocking to and fro slightly as if dancing to a tune only she could hear. She turned
when Mia walked in.
“All done then?” she asked, with a smile.
Mia nodded, “Yeah, all done Nan. I’ll clean up the kitchen now.”
She placed a hand on her grandmother’s shoulder. “You don’t have to worry about them sending you to an institute now do you. I told you I would never let them do that didn’t I? We have to stick together Nan.”
Mia kissed the top of her head, then after mopping and scrubbing the blood stained kitchen and hallway, she walked to the sink and picked up the bloodied knife from the drainer. She began to wash it. “I mean,” she said, over her shoulder. “You’re as sane as me Nan aren’t you?”
Her grandmother looked at her and nodded and they both laughed.
Mia turned back to the sink. She hummed to herself as she watched the water swirl down the plughole. It had turned red and pink, the same colours as the flowers would be in the garden.