Grace unwrapped a blanket of burlap sacks covering Carlito’s rose garden and watched as a pink worm burrowed through rich, fragrant soil . Springtime returns to paradise. Already, tiny green leaves have sprouted upon tender, thorny stems. In a matter of days, the acres of land that surround Carlito’s estate will sparkle with vegetation again and the fragrant roses will return to full bloom. The weeping willow trees that tower above the tailor shop will mourn again– casting solemn shade upon the stone dwelling.
She removes the bedding of decomposing organic matter that was placed here by Carlito in the Fall. This is her place now. Carlito spent the winter in his tailor shop, mending near a fire as heavy snows fell outside, wishing that he could stay to see the roses in bloom during the summer months.
He kept his sheep inside with him as company. They were like cats, wandering around the shop and house. The animals were permitted in his kitchen, something that Grace would never allow if the beautiful home belonged to her. The wooly creatures helped themselves to turnips that Carlito placed in a hand-painted pottery bowl on his butcher block table. The weather always turns to Spring here in the place between heaven and hell when the gods of the sea return to the waters to perform their mating rituals. He is among the currents of the cosmos with his friends now. With the tailor gone, days of thunder will surely return. The changes of the seasons in heaven are like the endings of books. They occur not by nature, but are based on the patterns of migrating mermen.
Barefooted, she carefully steps between twelve yellow rose bushes that bloom like in the old country. Carlito brought them back from the other side after his last trip there. He carried them in his mouth like a beaver carrying sticks to build a dam. He swam from the depths of the deep orange sea of yesterday to this place– purgatory– the land between here and there with twelve rose bushes in his mouth. That was all he brought back with him– rose bushes. Mermen need so little to remain content.
He planted the rose roots in the ground outside of his shop to serve as a promise to those who will surely miss him when he is gone. Like a perennial, his presence will return to this land.
The roses will be lovely. Grace enjoys taking care of the garden and the shop while he is away. The pink nightcrawler slowly crosses her dainty toes. She wiggles them because the worm tickles. Surely by this time, Carlito has laid his eggs, she realizes. By now, his tadpole-like offspring are tucked safely inside clear, jelly- like cocoons, and planted somewhere along the edges of the ponds of purgatory. The mating rituals of the mermen intrigue her. They are so secretive when they lay their eggs. She has always wanted to go with him to watch them hatch, but she stays here because someone has to take care of this beautiful place.
She has done enough swimming in that yellow ocean for now and has had enough kids of her own in her own time. Perhaps one day she will swim back there too, to re-live fond memories of her past and swim as a seductress in the sea of life. But for now– this is her reality. What a cozy place this is.
Someone’s got to keep the weeds out.