​​H E R M E N E U T I C   C H A O S   J O U R N A L

Michelle Orabona is a cubicle drone who longs to lead the other drones to freedom. Until then she bakes cupcakes and writes short stories. Her work has appeared, or is forthcoming in, DOGZPLOT, Toasted Cheese Literary Journal, Eunoia Review, and Yellow Chair Review. She blogs sporadically at kaaterskillbasinjournal.com and michelleorabona.com

                         B E T T E R   H O M E S   A N D   G A R D E N S 

         I am watching you like it is any other Sunday, your hands deep in the dirt reaching for the thin tendrils left behind when you pulled the rotten potatoes from the garden. How many times have we forgotten what we planted? I decide I do not want to be in love with you anymore and I wonder if that is the same thing as not being in love anymore. Is it that simple? Could I have stopped anytime I wanted to?

        We bought this house, this particular house, not for the architecture but for the land. It was noon on a Sunday, much like today, and when the real estate agent led us out back to the yard you stood, somewhere near where I am kneeling now, and told me, row by row, what we would be planting. You pointed and I could see it all spring up around me. Butternut and acorn squash. Potatoes and tomatoes and kale and cucumbers. That was when I decided to have your children, and that I would someday marry you if you ever asked. We stood in the empty kitchen, staring through the bay window at our imaginary garden as our agent made the call with our offer. You held my hand.

        The first day the house was ours you carried me over the threshold even though we were not newlyweds, or even married at all, or engaged. I flung my head back. I laughed and kicked my feet and I thought that even if I never got a ring this would be enough. We ate pizza on the floor because that is what you’re supposed to do. We sat close together, folding the slices in half and letting the orange grease drip and flow back into the arid landscape of the cardboard box like we were gardeners already. We watched a loud, funny movie and ate too much and later I laid my head in your lap while you played a video game with zombies and guns. In the morning I brought home bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches and we unpacked the bedroom.

         You fill a white plastic trash bag with rotten potatoes, and rancid cucumbers, and half eaten tomatoes before pulling at the bright red drawstrings and tying them in a knot you learned at Boy Scout camp and never forgot. ”Marigolds and Miracle-Gro next year,” you say. You smile before hoisting yourself up and bringing the bag out front to the curb. I smile back after you have walked away.

         The sum of all the rain we have received this year has soaked into the front of my jeans from the hem to just below the knees where the fabric has ripped and worn away. My knees are stiff and the skin is stained and slick. I lean lower to push up to my feet and see a tiny flash of red where everything else is brown and yellowing green. I reach for it; cradle the tiny thing in my palm as I blow the dirt away. It is spotted and shriveled on one side but whole. I stare at it for a while until I hear you calling to me to come inside. I imagine you pointing to my stomach, telling me what is growing there.

M I C H E L L E   O R A B O N A