Presenting four "Mad Moments" stories, each one short, each set in a different room in, or area of, a house. Watch for them on consecutive Sundays in September.
MAD MOMENTS #2: IN THE GARDEN
photo: J. Peter Bergman
By J. Peter Bergman
"I saw them among the daffodils playing just playing like children it was amazing," she said to him, stringing the phrases together into a single, un-punctuated sentence like strings of play-dough making a spaghetti necklace. Her words were as colorful as the allusions, as elusive as illusions might be on a spring morning in the half-light of partially cloudy weather.
"And there were how many?" her husband asked simply.
"I don’t know really for certain six or five with one moving quickly they are small," she answered him with a smile on her face, even though her lips were not smiling. Her eyes, as he noted, were all asparkle.
"And what did you do?" he asked her.
"I stood there the way it says to in the book in the kitchen without breathing a word or making a sound they never noticed me I think one did but he didn’t seem to care," she babbled on. He noticed that her red hair was disheveled and that there was still a piece of lettuce from her odd breakfast salad stuck between her front teeth, masking one, giving her a manic appearance.
"You have some lettuce - there," he said, pointing to the spot. She fidgeted but did nothing about the recalcitrant lettuce.
"When the one who noticed me noticed me and didn’t seem to care he turned his back on me and made a strange sound indicating to me that he really didn’t care that I had seen him there disporting with his friends among the daffodils so casually," she said. As she spoke she reached out to touch him and he felt one step closer to inclusion in her tale. He knew there was more to hear.
"And then what?" he prompted her, but he needn’t have because she had only taken a short breath before continuing with her endless sentence-like quest for story-telling.
"So casually as I said that one might have suspected and been proven correct in assuming that there was no other world than theirs and that we at least I if not we truly didn’t exist."
She sat down on the bench and looked over at the patch of fully blooming, variegated daffodils, their white and yellow petals gleaming in the bright sunlight. He followed her glance, taking in the technicolor spectacle of flowers, leaves and mulch. He could see each one of the sixty or so growing there, tightly, conveniently dense yet easily differentiated. He mentally began to count them, noting their closeness and their overlapping petals. It would have been difficult, he thought, to see beneath them, between them, without disturbing them. That thought disturbed him.
"Where were you, exactly, when you saw them?" he asked her.
She pointed oddly downward, sideward, leeward. He moved closer to her, putting his cheek against her shoulder and staring down the line of her arm and hand and finger. He saw the spot, and seeing it saw her imprint in the mulch.
"I see," he said.
"You see how easy it would be to see from there the where they were when they were there for I was there so near," she said.
He tried to recall why he had married her and hoped that her whimsical nature had been, at the least, one of the reasons.
"What were their feathers like?" he demanded in a different tone of voice.
"Gossamer," she said and she smiled as she said it and he waited for her to say more, but she sat in silence, smiling.
"Can you describe them any better than that? I’m trying to picture this," he added quickly.
"I could see through their wings to the other side and thoroughly see what lay behind them as I looked directly at them and they fluttered slowly as they played because they only seemed to use them for among the flowers at any rate the quick turns they took in playing," she said, and he was glad she had given a fuller response. When she spoke in single words he was frightened for her sanity, for she seemed such a different woman.
"I suppose you gave them names?" he asked politely.
"I did of course I did and each name so perfectly suited each personality that the mice would know them if I said them aloud," she answered him.
"Oh, there were mice as well?" he asked.
"There are always mice in the garden look there’s one now only I don’t know if he is really there or if I see him because we’re talking about them and they never bother me when I’m lying there anyway," she chattered on about the topic.
"How many did you say you saw?" he asked, changing the subject, he thought.
"Oh, not more than one if even one," she said, still thinking about the mice. "Mice don't come together."
"No, no, your delightful feathered friends among the daffodils?"
"Oh I see not the mice but the fairies in the flowers let me think about that five or six but five is better because...."
"Because one moved quickly yes I remember," he said, joining her in the run-on sentence school of conversation.
"And one is called Bette and one is called Patrick and one is called Ivan or maybe that’s Yvonne I wasn’t sure about the sex because with all those feathers it really is hard to be sure unless one needs a shave in which case it would have to be a boy I assume or perhaps a very elderly lady one," she said.
"So that accounts for three, or at least two," he said.
"That’s true and then there was the little brownish one I called after you and the best one of all that I named for Marcelline."
Marcelline was their daughter, now living in Seattle with her lover of fourteen years, Sondra.
"So there were three girlish ones and a boyish one and one of uncertain sexuality," he summed up her discourse.
"Yes," she said. He quivered inside at the simple answer.
"There always seems to be more girlish ones, doesn’t there?" he asked her.
"I believe that happens because the delicate nature of boys is such that more die than live just like in so many animal families and they are more animal than they are spiritual even if they only appear to a few of us and so often beneath the melting petals of the daffodil umbrellas."
She was off again, ‘herself again,’ he thought. He took her hand and cradled it in both of his. He could feel her cool skin beginning to warm as he held it snugly, firmly, but gently.
"You’re afraid I’ll break if you hold me too tight and I won’t because I’ve watched them play together disporting like birds in the bulrushes the day that Moses was drawn so delicately from the waters of the river by Pharaoh’s daughter in the Bible but I won’t," she told him. "I’m so much stronger in the spring months even when it rains for days on end and even when the birds won’t sing and they the fairies won’t play because gossamer is too delicate for all that water in spite of the insightful visions of Mr. Walt Disney who died for all that he did for us in those days."
He smiled at her again and gently kissed her on the cheek. She went on staring at the flower bed, yellow and white against green and brown and he was happy for her, happy for her experience, happy for she had shared it with him.