DID YOU DIG UP THE LAVENDER?
We took the dogs up the hill, past the fig trees and apricot trees and
I used to pick limes and lemons. Our garden came to harvest in the
summer and I picked while you watched. I planted the hibiscus. I
planted the pears. How big are they now? Did you dig up the lavender?
I chose the colors of the roses.
Someone has probably taken a hand to them now.
The way I see it, the tomatoes are long gone. The peppers never grew
again. What about the avocados? Did they ever grow?
Remember that year the tree did not bear fruit? We couldn’t believe it. Maybe now it does.
“The Holy Trinity,” he said. “God is all around us down here.”
Trees were covered in ivy – roots, bark, leaves hanging down low and deflating to the ground. As we drove into the mountains we passed woodwalled cafes and gun huts.
“We won’t find another gas station,” I said.
He wasn’t listening.
We stopped to watch the sun set and he tried to hold my hand or I tried to hold his. It wasn’t
working, our hands escaped each other. I walked deeper into the woods and squatted to pee and he
turned his back so not to watch.
Later, I opened the windows as we drove and stuck my hand out and then my face. It felt warm and damp. There was a clicking in the air, a buzz. Cicadas calling to each other. He was gripping the wheel and hugging the curves of the road and as he turned on the headlights, I checked the gas gauge.
“Only a quarter tank left.”
He didn’t seem worried even though we hadn’t passed a turnoff in miles. I stared up through the sunroof.
“Look at the stars,” I said.
I saw something fly in the air above us.
“What’s that? Birds?”
He peered through the windshield and slowed down.
“Bats?” I said.
He kept driving. I leaned over to close the sunroof.
“Don’t. It’s hot in here.”
“What if one flies in?”
I slid down in my seat and saw things hopping on the road.
“Looks like it,” he said.
“Don’t run them over.”
“I have to. They’re in the road.”
“You can go around them.”
“Then I’d be swerving everywhere.”
“What are those?” I asked.
He said the word slowly. Really savoring it.
“Holy shit,” I said.
He slowed even more.
“Don’t slow down. We’re wasting gas,” I said.
We were heading downhill now.
“I’ll take my foot off the gas. We can coast the rest of the way.”
I watched the frogs hop into the middle of the road, the snakes rearing up, us running over all of them.
“Why are they doing this?” I said.
“The road is warm. They like it.”
“We’re running them over.”
“That’s because we’re not supposed to be here,” he said.
A bat flew toward the sunroof and I grabbed his arm. He put his hand on my leg and let me clutch on to it. I checked the gas gauge. We were still at a quarter tank.
The coasting was working.
Karolina Waclawiak received her MFA from Columbia University. Her first novel, How To Get Into the Twin Palms, will be released July 2012 from Two Dollar Radio. She is the Deputy Editor of The Believer. The book trailer for her novel is viewable here: http://vimeo.com/38621534.