- Vol. 05
- Chapter 02
She was just a child. I watched her through the conservatory as she dusted and hoovered. When I was in the garden, I’d glance back and see her standing at the kitchen window staring at me. It was unnerving.
I had no cause to speak to her. I was employed to keep the garden tidy, water and cultivate my employer’s plants on the patio and in the conservatory, yet I found myself observing her and I couldn’t get over how lifelike she was. How beautiful.
One day I found her watching me as I was taking cuttings, her eyes so blue, so sad. A shiver ran through me and before I knew it I was explaining what I was doing, how the cuttings would grow into new plants. Her eyes bore into me then flitted to the cuttings and out to the garden. She stood facing the expanse I mowed and trimmed and weeded. She stared with what I could only say was longing.
‘Come,’ I said, opening the door. She hesitated before taking my hand. As our fingers entwined I became aware of how natural her skin felt, cool, smooth and strangely fleshy. I looked down at our hands before my eyes drifted to hers. She was watching me. ‘It’s okay,’ I said.
She followed me into the garden and I gave her the grand tour, seeing every plant and bush in a different light. Every flower seemed to sing, every colour was vibrant. I told her the names of the roses, spouting species and Latin names at her even though I knew she wouldn’t understand. She was programmed for household chores, that was all. As we moved back towards the patio I heard a door slam inside. I felt the child jump. She dropped my hand and walked back inside the house. My eyes followed her. I could hardly bear to let her go.
Every day she came to me when her chores were done. She watched me water, cut, and graft cuttings until one day I gave her pot of soil and a cutting of her own. ‘Just follow what I do,’ I said. At first she was clumsy. She squashed the cutting and backed away. ‘It’s okay,’ I said, but she escaped back into the house.
Next time I guided her hands and with my fingers. With soil under her nails, she turned to me and smiled. The following day I found her in the garden, arms aloft, head to the sun. As I came towards her she took my hand. She was holding my little cutting knife. She slit a line into her palm. Yellow gunge oozed out, her wiry tendons gleamed red and blue. Then she drew the knife across my palm. A thin line of red bubbled up. I looked into her face. She smiled as she clasped my hand. Our fluids mingled and our questions merged, our desires became one.
‘Now we are grafted,’ she said, and it felt so right.