Ladies of the Soil Added£1.59
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(A short story of 2041 words)

Ladies of the Soil


by Gill Blow

A poignant story of how a broken piece of porcelain and a biscuit tin crammed with packets of seeds allow a couple to confront the tragedy in their lives.

He takes up his spade and digs deep, he heaves up the soil and grunts as he turns it over. He breaks up the clods and sees something white in the dark earth, he pulls his spade aside and suddenly there she is: red rosebud lips, hair the colour of straw, and a bonnet gilded with gold. He picks her up and lays her in the palm of his hand, there’s only her face and her bonnet, the rest of her is broken away. He rubs the dirt off her face with his finger and puts her in his pocket. He thinks of the others he’s unearthed and taken home. She washes them in Fairy Liquid, and arranges them on the dresser in the kitchen, Ladies of the Soil, she calls them.

He shades his eyes and looks across the bleak allotments at three black silhouettes working on their plots, bending and straightening as if genuflecting to the land. The soil is dark like furls of chocolate. Most of the plots have been abandoned already, they sit strangled in weeds, their sheds falling apart, waiting for the diggers, waiting to be transformed into a new housing development. There’s a bonfire, he sees a thin line of smoke going straight up into a sky so blue and clear it makes his eyes ache. Red apples hang like ornaments on leafless trees. It won’t be long before she hears about the allotments. He breathes in the cold air, thinks he might make a fire later and tackle the nettles, watch them burn...

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