Tuesday, November 12, 2019


"What the hell am I doing?" She thought, looking at the mud under her finger nails and the old jeans cladding her chubby thighs.

Plants were strewn wildly around her muddy ass. She sat heavily in the red soil looking at the holes and weeds.

"Do I pull them all up? How do I know what's a proper plant and what's a shitty weed?" Reaching a muddy hand into her pocket, Ness pulled out her iPhone. It looked curiously futuristic there amongst the grass and the dirt. She looked at the phone a thousand times a day but it never looked out of place. Not in her house where it lived. But here, here in the closest to wild she could get without leaving the city it looked weird. All shiny metal and hard lines.

She tried to give the phone her thumbprint. "Gosh aren't we trusting... imagine giving a tech company access to one of the major things that could have you convicted of murder. Eugh, maybe technology is a terrible idea?"

The thumb print wouldn't scan. Too much mud in the unique crevices of the appendage. "Fucking useless technology." She thought angrily, "Why don't even the basics work?"

She thumped her four digit pin into the screen, leaving wide smudges of detritus across the glass. Pulling up the internet explorer she hammered her question into the obliging little box. "What plants are weeds and which are proper plants?"

In the millisecond before the results appeared, Ness considered scrapping the enquiry just in case the results were scolding. What if the internet got cross with her rampant stupidity? What if the only search result was "Look, if your questions are this basic you have no business being out of a house?"

The results pinged into an orderly line. The first link to her a page about CBD oil. Ness wondered if using a search term with the word "weed" in it had now put her on several lists.

The second, third, fourth and fifth results were all far too complicated for her to understand at all. The sixth link took her to Pinterest and a meme about weeds only being weeds if you chose not to love the flower it could also be perceived as. "Oh fuck off Pinterest. What a waste of the internet Pinterest has turned out to be. An idle dreaming ground for women too pinned down by babies to be able to live in the real world."

Ness didn't need Pinterest. She wasn't pinned down by a baby, much to her misery and shame, she was free in the real world to do as she pleased. The trouble was, she was finding it increasingly hard to be pleased by anything. That's how she had found herself here: on her very own allotment plot with absolutely no idea what she was doing.

Ness looked down at her phone, wiped some of the mud off it and returned it to her pocket. She would just have to pull up everything and start again. so what if she accidentally destroyed some stuff that could have been good? A clean start.. that was what this place needed.

The allotment was overwhelming for a beginner. Even her own relatively small patch was a jungle of twisting things, taller things, short squashier looking things and funny shaped mud patches that would only turn from mud into faeces when they made contact with fingers. Gross.

When she'd first arrived it had looked impenetrable. A shanty town of time-rich Green party wannabees who desperately wanted to save the planet but at a distance from their own perfectly manicured lawns. Without allotments there would be very little reason for the middle classes to own Hunter wellies and then where would appearances be? Not kept up, that's for sure.

Ness' plot was at the top of the hilly allotment patch. It had an incredible view across the city and down to the coast. On a clear day she could see the wind farm standing out at sea promising salvation. It calmed her to be here, even if the gardening portion was baffling.

She pulled herself up onto her knees and let the blood flow back into her chilled buttocks. They stung in a not unpleasant way. "I suppose this is the bum equivalent of being happy to be alive? Like the euphoria when you've held your breath for ages and then give your brain back air? You feel amazing. This is my bum feeling amazing and pumped. Ready for anything. Sorry you can't do much bum. You're cute though."

Ness leaned forward and began pulling up plant after plant from the small raised bed she was sat in. She spent hours teasing all the fine, whiskery roots from the earth and making sure that not a remnant of the plant remained.

The light began to dip and dim, and while the wind didn't pick up as it would have done had this been cheaper writing, it did feel as though the graceful warmth at the edges of the air just quietly receded. Like an introvert at a party, the warmth melted away and Ness didn't notice until the atmosphere was approaching unpleasant.

She stood up and surveyed the ground. A bare patch of tidy looking brown earth now lay where before there had been myriad leaves and grasses. It looked ready for something. It looked she felt: fertile but bare. Waiting.

She glanced robotically down the hill to the hoarding. To the reason she couldn't stop coming here. Down at the bottom of the hill the shiny, plasticated boards loomed across the allotment. 8 feet high and many, many feet wide the developers had installed the hoardings to try and make their plans look more human.

"Let us have the land" said the hoardings, "and we will put families in here. In safe, warm, well-lit buildings that protect babies. You like babies, don't you? Here are some pictures of babies for you to look and realise we should be building here. These babies have parents of two different races, isn't that good? So really, if you don't let us build here you not only hate babies and want them to die outside in the cold but you also are racist. Do you want to be a racist baby hater or should you just let us build our cardboard houses on this plot?"

The breeze lifted Ness' greasy fringe off her shiny forehead. She stared at the enormous photos of the happy couple and their baby on the glossy boards and felt tears gnawing at the sides of her eyes.

"I do love babies," she thought, "I promise I like babies. I really love babies."

"Then why not give us the land?" said the hoardings.

"I need a nursery painted with jungle animals." said the baby. Enormous brown eyes now barely visible through the insufficient November evening light. The baby and its family were melting into the gloaming but Ness could feel them judging her from their homeless cuddle.

"I know you do, but does it have to be here? We need a place too."

"Who are you?" Asked the perfect Dad dismissively.

"Oh, we're the weirdos." Ness whispered, the tears having nibbled their way free and now skating cold races down her cheeks. "We're the weirdos who didn't get to be you. We empathise too much with hedghogs to get any work done, and couldn't switch off fear of the floods long enough to trust a future for our not-babies. We would be you if we could, but you did it first and made it look too perfect for us to risk ruining it by copying. We need a space too."

Standing there, frozen. Completely stuck. Ness could now only see the white of the board around the family. She shook herself to loosen her legs and began to move back towards the gate; careful not to look at the board again.

She wiped the tears dry; more to warm her face than to stop anyone knowing she'd been crying. She'd pretty much always been crying so what difference did today make to strangers?

No comments:

Post a Comment