I've been quiet here; the lack of a commute has made my life better overall, but really cut into my writing time. I don't need to tell you, my friends, that these are dark times in America. I will, for today, eschew political writing for a scrap of flash fiction.
You see the little
pot in your mother's hands. The spiky leaves are starting to yellow. Not all of
them, but enough. This is not a strong rosemary plant.
She sets it down on
the kitchen table. Her fingers walk through the branches like pages of a book,
pulling each one aside to touch it, feel it, examine it. You marvel, not for
the first time, at how hands as hold as hers can be this nimble, this lively. She
"I wanted to
make a wreath, for the Johnsons to hang over their baby's crib. The goddess
knows we can all use some protection these days."
She finds a healthy
sprig, pulls it free as she continues to speak. "Do you think we should
put it on the window sill? It'll get more light, might do a bit better."
Your eyes widen. The
window is clearly
visible from the neighbor's house. And the other neighbor. And the ones behind
you. That's the hazard of living in suburbia. Everyone sees everyone. "You
know.. The black laws.. What if someone sees?"
She finds a healthy
branch and carefully breaks it free, her nails cutting into it a few inches up
from the stem. Just as she taught you. "You know, this isn't the first
time. I remember a story my grandmother told
me about a village in the old country where rosemary - and more - were
outlawed. Especially rosemary."
She bundles the few
healthy sprigs with string and hangs them to dry as she talks. "There was,
in this village, a wisewoman, who'd treat her neighbors ills, who'd help them
find love, who'd make sure their babes were born healthy and not stolen away by
the fey-folk after."
You listen as she
strings up the rosemary to dry - in a corner of the kitchen, far enough from
the window that the neighbors wouldn't see. "The king sometimes sent
riders to make sure that his edicts are being obeyed, but the people of this
village were clever and proud of their wisewoman. She'd been good to them. So,
they were clever. They each chose to plant rosemary in their gardens, and
foxglove and lavendar and whatever else she grew. They planned to tell the
kingsman that they wanted them for cooking, or for decoration, or some other
silliness. The idea was, of course, that even if the kingsman didn't believe
them, he couldn't raze the entire village and put them all to the torch. The
wisewoman was, not for the first time, proud. And glad she'd picked this place
She trails off.
happened? Did the kings man give up?"
"Do Kings Men
ever give up? Lovely rosemary grew wild in the wreckage for years after.
Probably still does. And those who survived remember." She set the plant
at the windowsill, in the sunlight.