A215 Short Fiction – Planting the Past
This is a piece of short fiction written for the first online tutorial of A215 Creative Writing. It followed on from three exercises intended to spur some creativity. The exercises centred around thinking of a place that you love being and then asked questions about that place. The first was some descriptive writing about the place, things you could see, smell, hear etc. The second was to write about a flash memory in the present tense and the last was to list some facts about the place and then spin off some ‘what if…’ questions related to those facts. This last one was what really got my 400 word piece of fiction going. So here it is, all 400 words of it.
Planting the Past
Hands resting on her heavily pregnant belly, Dot could feel her baby kicking. Her husband leant on a spade, sweat glistening on his brow and mud clay sticking to the soles and sides of his old army boots. Boots that he now only wore for gardening. They were home for good now, in their own house, with their own garden. She had enjoyed the travel, and the adventure of it all, even the fear and danger. Even though she’d looked death square in the face more than once, and been close enough to feel the last breath of more than one unfortunate person, she’d tell you that she’d had a good war.
Today was a funeral for that past, which would be mourned by them both. The box lay on the grass, two feet long and ten inches on the shorter sides. It was still the same dull green, with stencil letters, as when she’d first seen it at the aerodrome. For years it lived in Reggie’s car, ready just in case. Even with rationing they’d always had petrol. Her job needed her to drive, and Reggie’s record counted for quite a bit too.
Now that was all over, it was over ten years since the war, although they’d been needed more than ever since it finished. In the bushes the great tits sang their courtship songs and overhead a magpie soared looking for prey. Other than that the only other sound was the metal spadescraping against the clay soil as Reggie squared off the hole. It was way too big for the tree that stood potless waiting to be planted.
‘It should.’ said Dot.
Reggie unfolded some oiled cloth and laid it out on the ground. He placed the box diagonally on the centre of it before wrapping it in the cloth. His large fingers covered in reddish-brown clay conifidently tied knots in the garden twine.Stepping closer Dot watched as he lay the neat parcel gently into the hole.
‘What if we need to dig it up later?’ Dot asked..
‘Don’t worry, I’m going to plant the tree to the side of it.’ Reggie said, indicating a shallower part of the hole.
‘I’m going inside to sit down.’ said Dot.
‘Is it done?’ Dot asked.
‘Yes, the cherry tree is planted.’