Adella and the Concrete Garden
Jessica Lynne Furtado
Adella tips her chin toward the sun like a glass poised on the edge of a sink. I’ll never be this tan again, thinks Adella, feeling golden as a honeycomb and just as sticky. Why is this my shining moment?
She reclines and sends the ice in her glass spinning, tiny tornado of sugar and lemon. The clink-clink gets her thinking of the metallic bracelets she likes to stack, the ricochet of impact that occurs when she dances with her cats or has the impulse to meet friends for dinner. How the bracelets shimmer beneath the dim light of any restaurant booth, any bathroom stall. Everyone wants her bracelets, so she counts them every few minutes to be sure that no one has laid a lacquered finger on them. So far, she hasn’t misplaced one.
Drinking tart lemonade in her swimming pool, she admires the concrete in all of its solid splendor, dry as a bone and cracked under pressure. She never had an affinity for water, avoiding oceans and aquariums, fearing the rising inches in a clogged shower. She had the pool drained before moving into her weathered ranch house, thinking how marvelous to have a pit where I can sit and sun myself.
Adella is not shy about her aversions or attractions, asking the man who drained the chlorine from her future if he’d like to stay for dinner. He did, and she hated him, cutting a tiny hole in his left pant pocket when he excused himself to the bathroom. It will grow like a cyst and he will lose things small, but important, thought Adella. She was right, and he lost several throat lozenges and wedding bands over the course of a lifetime. They were his favorite pants, and he wasn’t about to let a small, but significant hole be their demise.
Since moving into the adequate house on Pine Grove Ave., Adella has purchased a steadily growing collection of expensive plants to fill her pool from shallow to deep end. Walking into a variety of frequented florists she would ask “What is your most expensive plant and how soon can you deliver it?” The next day a spindly-limbed new potted plant would join the growing forest she so lovingly cultivated. My children are so green they make me envious. My heart is as green as my children, Adella thought as she groomed an overpriced boxwood.
The sun would set in a few hours and Adella would have to sit in her living room, where the cats’ fur collected in untidy constellations. The wallpaper beginning to peel, couch gouged by claws and forgotten cigarettes, the house was a disappointment greater than the root rot in her roses. Perhaps I will get a small daybed for my pool, thinks Adella. Yes, perhaps I won’t have to go into that wretched house too often if I have a nice daybed and a mini-fridge with a few electric outlets. A daybed, a mini-fridge, and a waterproof safe for my bracelets. Yes, that’s it.
Adella calls her best florist, but they do not sell daybeds or mini-fridges or waterproof safes, though they have a cousin who has a used daybed for sale at a reasonable price. The florist tells their cousin that a strange woman with exquisite taste in ornamental grasses may call to inquire after the bed. The cousin is reluctant to sell to a woman who is vain about blooms and leaves, her own ex-husband having been a landscaper with similar proclivities. No matter. Adella does not settle for used, not in furniture or humans.
A rattlesnake plant eyes Adella and seems to hiss, its spotted skin not yet ready to shed. Next to this potted ruffian, a row of succulents sits open-faced and brazen, their quenched veins never knowing the thirst of a woman who can’t get enough sunlight in her skin. The thin tips of an aloe reach toward Adella like an accusation, and she focuses on the bridge of her sunglasses to keep from feeling so exposed by the flesh she regularly cuts to use its guts as skin emollient.
Spying a single cat hair trapped in the weave of her knitted halter, Adella is distraught by her need for an outdoor oasis. She hates her fucking cats and hasn’t seen them in days, just the fur always billowing like tumbleweeds in her suburban wasteland. My hands are not as tan as my feet, thinks Adella, and now she is concerned that she will never be even.
Adella determines that she will sleep in her lawn chair until she can sort out this situation, her bracelets protected by clenched fists in the night. Can one sell a house but keep the pool attached to its land? Her lemonade sweats like an anxious hand. She makes a note to call the realtor in the morning, and then the electrician for the outlets, but only after she has called the florist. There’s a lusty fichus she’s been eyeing, and it’s time to give in to the lush, green longing.
Jessica Lynne Furtado is a poet, photographer, & librarian. Her visual work has been featured in Muzzle Magazine, PANK, Pretty Owl Poetry, & Waxwing, and her writing has appeared in apt, Rogue Agent, & Stirring, among others. Her debut chapbook A Kiss for the Misbehaved is forthcoming from BatCat Press. Visit Jess at www.jessicafurtado.com