There is sunshine today and dirt beneath the woman’s fingernails. She is digging in the garden, a large hole, the size of her body, carefully measured. When she displaces a bit of earth, large clumps erode from the sides and fall into the bottom. This makes the process slow and cumbersome, but she doesn’t mind. She revels in the small exertion; sunlight warmed skin, soil mixed with sweat to form a primordial ooze.
When the phone rings, she’s surprised. She sits back on her heels and stares at the kitchen door, wide open, the white of the phone blending with the white of the walls. She rises, bones cracking, bare feet soundless on the grass. She slips onto the stool by the phone, picks it up, listens to the static before the sound of a voice emerges. “Hello?”
On the counter, she has a jar of cultivated seeds.
“Mirabelle? Is that you?” It’s a man, too young to know her name.
“Yes,” she says.
She twists the cap off the jar and pours the seeds into her hand. They are smooth and moist.
“I found you on the internet; that sounds bad. I mean I saw your picture on my recommended friends list on Facebook, and I couldn’t be sure. It’s just that your hair is blue and shorter now, but I know your face, I know it’s you.”
When she was young, she ate watermelon seeds. She would lay in bed at night and ache as they swelled to life in her stomach. She remembers feeling pink and green on the inside.
“Who is this?” she asks.
“Oh my god, Mirabelle! It’s Jason, Jason Connor. From high school. You probably don’t remember me, but I remember you.”
She brings the seeds up to her face and inhales the fragrant, earthy scent of them.
“You’re looking for the other Mirabelle, my daughter.”
It was a ludicrous desire for immortality that inspired her to share a name with her daughter. It was similar desires that led to the gulf between them. Mirabelle Jr. couldn’t stand her mother’s strange, sometimes reckless inclinations, even though she shared in them.
“Oh, I’m so sorry, my mistake Ma’am. ”
She cups her hand and pours the seeds into her mouth, casts a glance at the backyard as she swallows. Tonight she will curl up in that hole, bury her body, naked and warm, fetally arranged. And the seeds will grow in her, roots spreading through her veins, arthritic hands turned to bark, pain transmuted to cellulose, vascular bundles replacing her heart with xylem and phloem pumping ions and glucose from root to leaf, leaf to root. In the spring she will emerge, verdant and new.
“Is your daughter there? Is she at home?” the voice asks, quiet and reluctant.
She remembers the flash of the red and blue lights in the hall, the police at the door, hats in hand, eyes downcast. She feels the seeds travel down her throat, like the lump just before tears flow.
“Sorry,” the woman replies, “but she can’t come to the phone.”
Her eyes flutter to a small sapling in the backyard, beside her freshly dug hole. It’s four feet at most, an evergreen, bent slightly like the curve of a young woman’s back.