A Garden of Roses by John Dougherty

November 22, 2012 Comments Off on A Garden of Roses by John Dougherty

When Charlie Moore buried his wife Agnes for the second time, he covered the hole in the back of her head with her favorite gardening hat and rolled her body into the shallow grave. She looked different from how he remembered. Formaldehyde had firmed the slack muscles. Her complexion had turned pallid. Hair fell from under her hat in thin copper strands, the expression on her face that of a peaceful mask. 

As the first shovelful of earth fell across Agnes’ face, he knew he could no longer bear to look upon it. Subsequent piles slowly covered her body until all that remained were the tips of her toes. He raked the remaining soil into the grave and smoothed it over with the back of his shovel.  

Charlie had buried his wife once before, under the oak where they had put their newborn in the ground. Four generations of his family had been interred there. He imagined they would all rest together some day, but his wife hated that place. She told him the best part of her was already buried there. Agnes never came to the cemetery until the day of her own funeral. 

Agnes deserved a better life than the one she was given. She was a good woman, burdened with a husband who never loved her. Charlie had watched her ardor turn to ashes. The glue that had bound them turned to acid when their child passed away. 

A rose garden grew from their misery, nourished by Agnes’ blood and tears. It became her refuge. Charlie would sit in his chair drinking bourbon, watching his wife from an ever-growing distance. “If only I believed in something,” her note had read. “It might have made a difference. I simply want to disappear.” He had to bring her to the garden. He owed it to her. She would never be happy beneath the shade of that giant oak. 

Charlie wiped the sweat from his brow and let the shovel fall to his side. Then he walked to the back porch and sank into an Adirondack. He lit a cigarette and stared at the burial mound. He knew, one day, the dirt would settle. Soon it would be flat and covered with a blanket of grass and weeds. Every trace of her would be gone. Maybe then, the roses would return. 

© 2012 John Dougherty

John Dougherty works odd jobs to support his writing habit. His fiction has appeared in various ezines from Aphelion to The Zodiac Review. He dedicates his free time to pursuing his passion: writing short stories from his home in Santa Barbara, California.

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