She was absolutely normal. She grew up without a dad, but so did they. They crushed her pansies down with shoes she couldn’t name, right heels rubbed commuter raw. There was nothing to envy in those jacket-wrapped silk-satin shells. Her life was exactly what she wanted. The earth accepted her gifts, returning favors with blossoms and symmetry. Each morning, she stepped from her patio into her temporal office, pruning thoughts and whetting desire.
Her mother asked, “When are you going to grow up? You’re 34 years old and you still live in an apartment alone. How are you going to find a man when you’re covered in dirt and smell like a farmer?” A man. She had one once. Once was enough. Those women in stockings wilted in mailroom scowls and swimming pool anxiety. Moist skin hid molding despair and regret. There was no jealousy in her coveralls of invisibility.
Her patio blooms mocked pale waxed handbags, scarves, decapitated cherry bubbles. They left in bouncing curls and limped home at night with gray pencil men, ghosts with heads of numbers. Transactions traded figure for figure then burst for winter’s frost. Painting pastel paths, her living colors on flesh taunted theirs chafed dead under layers. She worked in soil unsoiled and watched the others swallowed by worms.