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Story by Donna Laemmlen (Read author interview) June 28, 2011

art by Gay Degani

Morning glories cling to a trellis, their flowers fully opened, camouflaging the stone wall behind the garden. A walking cane lodged in the thicket sprouts tiny leaves from its willow staff, roots having taken hold without signs of mildew.

Your fingers turn the soil, moist and cold, extracting the dead roots from last year’s planting. Worms churn, angry at being awakened. Frenzied ants hunt their broken trail. Somewhere a snail lurks, tiny half-moons chomped into the camellia leaves.

You think, Now is the time. No more wood to stack, snow to shovel, or his relentless pain to witness, just the night arriving later and later, the day as warm as the perfect bath, the sun bearing down on everything, even the shock of a bitter winter.

You imagine, Throw extra sardine bones and egg shells into the compost before planting, then mingle your toes with the willow anchored in the soil and wait, for the tugging at your feet, the slow pull of roots ferreting the earth, the tendrils of his favorite flower snaking around your ankles and calves, twining their support and ribbons of leaves. Hope the first lilies bloom next spring. Watch how you thrive in the sun. Once you are rooted, your inflorescence will rise above the clumps of leaves, your petals spreading wide, flattening all the curled edges. You will never close. And when the tiny snails seeking shelter tickle you, you will laugh, for him, for you, for the twenty years gone in a breath.

About the Author

Donna Laemmlen is currently pursuing an MFA in Writing at the University of San Francisco. She has been published in Slice magazine, Switchback Literary Journal and sPARKLE & bLINK. She teaches screenwriting and storytelling at the Academy of Art University and is a member of the WGA’s Independent Writers Caucus.

About the Artist

Gay Degani has been nominated here and there for Pushcart consideration, Best Small Fictions, and a few various and sundry honors including the 11th Glass Woman Prize. She is the author of a full-length collection of short stories, Rattle of Want (Pure Slush Press, 2015) and a suspense novel, What Came Before (Truth Serum Press, 2016). Her micro “Abbreviated Glossary” appears in the anthology New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fictionedited by James Thomas and Robert Scotellaro. She occasionally blogs at Words in Placeand is currently working on another novel of suspense.

This story appeared in Issue Thirty-Two of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Thirty-Two

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