Sometimes my friend Urban Guerrilla (I know you can’t tell that we’re friends in the comments section – hahaha) sends me stuff about websites/blogs looking for writers and she’ll be so excited and encouraging – write for them! And even though I have this site, I don’t really consider this writing.
I thought I was crazy. However, in the writing class I took last month, we had to read ZZ Packer’s book, Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, which was so totally awesome! So the teacher sent us an interview with Packer and she shared how she can spend a whole day writing articles and other non-fiction and then she’ll say to her husband, “I haven’t written anything today.” And he’ll say, “what you wrote a whole lot?!” And she was like, “oh that? That’s not writing.” And I realized I was not alone.
For me writing is making up stories, dialogue, and putting characters in situations and it’s what I enjoy most. And I know this because I interned at a newspaper for a summer and was totally, utterly miserable.
So today I found this writing prompt: The garden was overgrown now.
And this is what I wrote.
The garden was overgrown now and Olivia should have been ashamed, but she was not. Her man had walked out two months ago. And she refused to cut her own grass. And she had this twisted principle about not paying anyone to do it. At least not yet.
Every morning as she left her house, her three inch heels click clacked down her front walkway and Mr. Williams, her next door neighbor who always sat on his porch with a cup of coffee and The Washington Post would say something about her damn property. How she needed to paint or fix a shingle or sweep up some. This morning as she quickly gave him her back and headed down the steps he said:
“What are you going to do about that yard?”
“Mr. Williams, I will handle it.”
“You’ve been saying that for too long now. It looks a mess. And your grandmother would not be pleased.”
“Well she isn’t here.”
“That lady loved to garden. She was so proud of all her flowers, the colors, the beauty, said it would make people smile as they walked by.”
Olivia swallowed a sigh and the words she wanted to say: that she didn’t see him offering to pull her weeds. She finally turned around and saw that his thin copper colored face, that was beginning to show its age with droopy eyelids and wild gray eyebrows, was hard. Usually when he nudged her towards home repair, it was always with a small smile to encourage a fellow homeowner. But today there was nothing. And then in an effort to hide the crimson that was now tickling her sugar cookie hued cheeks, she looked down, only to be met with grass that was almost at her ankles. And the dirt where the azalea bush struggled to grow and bloom could barely be seen since the weeds in all their ferociousness had twisted and turned, crisscrossed, until it was a mass of green brush, like the stuffing in Easter baskets. She pivoted back around, desperate to get away from it all – the row house her grandmother had owned and bequeathed to Olivia that cost her a fortune to keep up; the emptiness the house held within its corners that could not be swept away; and Mr. Williams who would not stop criticizing.
“Your grandmother would not be pleased,” he said again as she walked away.
By the time she had returned from work, after 9 hours of taking orders from attorneys, having only yogurt for lunch, and getting caught in a 4 o’clock meeting, the pumps had been replaced with black flats and Olivia shuffled up the walkway and climbed the stairs. Once at the front door, a pink color bounced off the porch light and in her line of sight. She looked down and found a floppy gardening hat. As she picked it up off the chaise, she saw there was more: shears, gloves, and a note.
Make your grandmother proud.
The handwriting leaned and looped across the page that Olivia crumpled in her hands. She scooped down to collect the rest of the items and pushed the front door open.
What should happen next?