The Madison Review Extended Cut: no. 16

Hello and welcome back to The Madison Review's web series, the Extended Cut, where we showcase exceptional work that was not selected for the Fall or Spring editions of our journal. This week, please enjoy "Turtle Pond" by Shellie Kalinsky, a short story our Fiction staff couldn't let go of for its mastery of suspense, analysis of corruption, and portrayal of complex relationships.


Shellie Kalinsky is an emerging writer of realistic fiction that examines unequal power dynamics in relationships and what happens when community expectations and individual longings collide. She is interested in how people forge connections with others, overcome social and ethical difficulties, and find self-fulfillment. Kalinsky a 2021 George Mason University BFA graduate, where she was recognized as Mason’s Outstanding Creative Writing Graduating Undergraduate for the Winter 2021 graduating class.


TURTLE POND


I trekked the dusty trail with my garden tools in an old grocery bag. Moisture from the long braid I’d roped after my morning shower dripped down the center of my back. Indian Summer sunshine steamed my damp head. The folded edge of my paper bag wilted in my sweaty palm like the old school lunch sacks Aunt Helen used to prepare when I was seven. I curled my paper sack tighter as I tromped the worn field-path to Patricia’s house.


Patricia Crawley’s ninety-year-old farmhouse sat atop the grassy hill with a big, green screened porch and detached, peeled-paint garage that reminded me of Aunt Helen’s house where I’d lived after my parents’ divorce. From Patricia’s porch steps, I had a view of my neighborhood, and to the right, the bulldozed dirt piles that would become Fairfield’s newest neighborhood, Turtle Pond. The defunct dairy farm’s battered pasture fence severed the old world from the new.


Earlier in the week, Kate, my next-door neighbor, and I had been with Patricia when she came home with 300 daffodil bulbs and gossip from the Co-Op’s cash register lady. Mayor Eugene planned to stop the new development. “I’m so tired of his antics,” Patricia said.


The mayor and a few other old-timers began harassing Patricia and her husband when they sold their land to developers ten years ago. Now, the mayor wanted to rezone the land for commercial use. Rumor had it the mayor had a financial stake in the deal.


Patricia slammed the bulb box onto the counter of her potting shed. “He had every chance to buy the land. But why would we take his lowball offer when the developer agreed to our asking price?” She threw her hand trowel into the box.


Kate shrugged. “It’s been ten years. Why is he still upset?”


Patricia glared at Kate. “Good question.”


I nodded in agreement.


“He’s been mayor too long. It’s time for him to go.” Patricia threw her hand rake into the box.


“But he just got reelected last year.” I knew Kate had voted for him.


Kate shrugged. “His term runs until ’82.”


“I’m getting that man out of office. Even if I have to get rid of him myself.” Patricia crossed her arms.


“That’s crazy talk.” Kate touched the box.


Patricia swatted her hand away. “It’s not crazy to stop someone who’s hurting the community. We need those new houses here. No one wants dairy cows and hundreds of acres, and no one wants commercial buildings.”


“The developer already got approval for Turtle Pond. How could the mayor stop it now?” I didn’t understand.


Patricia walked us through some of the shady deals Mayor Eugene had crafted. Preferential treatment for businesses that paid him consultant fees, firing city inspectors who disagreed with him, and kickbacks for zoning officials who did what he asked. All of it designed to skim profits from the town.


Patricia had a plan. “We’re going to start by making sure everyone knows about Turtle Pond. Once it’s public, he can’t sneak his deal through. Step one is to plant these daffodils at the neighborhood’s front entrance.”


I wasn’t sure planting flowers would stop Mayor Eugene, but it seemed harmless.


“Can’t you get someone else to plant the bulbs?” Kate asked.


“Don’t be ridiculous. I’m old but I can still plant flowers.” Patricia dusted her hands on her jeans. “And when I’m there, I hope Mayor Eugene shows up so I can give him a piece of my mind.” She shook her head. “That man ruined Jude. I’m not going to let him hurt any more families in my town.”


She blamed him for the fallout with her son shortly after her husband had died. Twenty-year-old Jude worked on Mr. Eugene’s first election campaign. At first, he seemed like a good male role model for Jude. But that changed when Jude sat at the kitchen table and spelled out Mr. Eugene’s crooked plans. “We’re going earn a lot of money with the extra permits. I’ll earn some cash, too, if I help him collect.” Mr. Eugene had a plan to line his own pockets taking a cut of the developer’s and builder’s fees, then skimming the taxes. When Patricia recounted the story, she looked at me with shame in her eyes. “Jude called his father and me dumb country trash.”


She didn’t know how to get through to her son. “If you were younger, I’d wash your mouth out with soap.”


“You don’t know anything about managing money.”


“I know you’ve been spending too much time with Mr. Eugene. You’re being hateful.”


Patricia didn’t tell me the rest of it, but it wasn’t long after that Jude left town. She channeled the pain of her rift with her son into challenging the mayor and his policies. For ten years she confronted him at town hall meetings. He retaliated by vetoing Turtle Pond’s first set of zoning plans, blocking its street permits, and blocking construction entrances. But the man kept getting reelected. How could people overlook his blatant abuse of power?


I joined Patricia at a few meetings, but couldn’t bring myself to speak in front of the town council. I didn’t have Patricia’s grit.


They wouldn’t listen to someone like me. I was only a young mother and housewife. Sometimes I wondered if it mattered to anyone else but me that I had the words to Goodnight Moon memorized, or that I knew how many steps Mary could toddle around the yard in her small shoes before tumbling onto the grass.


But there was something I could do to help Patricia. “I want to help you plant the daffodils.” Digging in the dirt would be much easier than chasing two-year old Mary with baby John on my hip. “I’ll get Gin to watch the kids.”


* * *


Miscellaneous ceramic flower pots sat near Patricia’s front door, filled with yellow and orange mums. The metal screen door’s springs creaked when I opened it. I knocked on the closed interior door, then bent down to dead-head a few of the wilted blossoms while I waited.


A long-limbed man with shoulder length, shaggy, straw-colored hair and a Blue Oyster Cult concert shirt opened the door.


Who was this stranger answering Patricia’s door? I dropped the flower heads into the pot. “Hi. I’m here for Patricia.” I dusted my hand on my jeans.


“She’s not here right now.”


I wasn’t sure what to do. I held up my paper bag. “We’re supposed to plant bulbs.” I didn’t want to be rude. If he was in Patricia’s house, he must be a friend.


“Well like I said, she’s not here right now. I’ll tell her you stopped by.”


“But you don’t even know my name.” I needed to know who he was.


“Okay. What’s your name?”


“Juniper Rogers. I live down the hill.” Why did I tell this stranger where I lived?


“Alright, Juniper Rogers. I will tell my mother you came by.”


“Your mother? You’re Jude?” I tried to reconcile the thin, lanky man in front of me with the chubby cheeked little boy in framed photos displayed in Patricia’s living room.


“Yeah. I’m Jude. Long lost son. Home at last.” He gave a Cheshire grin. “I’ll tell my mother you stopped by. Be careful out there. There’s a lot of wildlife roaming around.” He shut the door in my face.


What was that supposed to mean? What kind of wildlife? And where was Patricia? She wouldn’t leave knowing I was on the way. And I’d arranged for Gin to watch the kids. I wandered around back looking for Patricia.


The detached garage’s wooden doors hung open, and her burnt orange Hornet Sportabout sat in its usual spot in front of the broken-down tractor she never got rid of. I found the box of bulbs in the back of her car, along with Patricia’s gardening gloves. She had to be around somewhere. Why hadn’t Jude told me she was out back?


I didn’t like him.


I headed to the potting shed, where I expected to find Patricia. I couldn’t wait to find out what she had to say about Jude’s return. He was her son. Surely she was happy about it.


As a mother, I couldn’t imagine not speaking to my children. I would not be like my mother who had taken a job in Paris after my parents’ divorce, left me with Aunt Helen, and only visited on special occasions. It was Aunt Helen who taught me how to plant a garden, and Aunt Helen who convinced me that Mama had done the best she could. But the feelings of abandonment welled inside me. I tried not to be jealous when I thought about Patricia reconciling with Jude and spending less time with me.


Patricia wasn’t in her potting shed. Her usually tidy garden tools were heaped on the ground. Including the tools she’d thrown into the bulb box a few days ago. A large shovel lay outside the shed, caked in mud. Patricia always hosed off her tools and hung them back on the hooks when she finished with them. This wasn’t right. It must be Jude’s doing.


I stomped back to the porch and banged on the front door with my fist. “Jude? I’d like to talk to you.”


He did not come to the door.


I twisted the doorknob. Locked.


I fumed down the stairs. Something was wrong. I intended to find out what it was.


* * *


I sat with Gin at our kitchen table as he attempted to calm me. “Maybe he put the box in the car and forgot to close the door.”


“No. I’m telling you something is wrong.”


Gin held onto our baby John, his redheaded miniature, with one arm. “Why don’t you call the house? Maybe she’ll answer. And when you talk to her, you’ll feel better.”


I dialed Patricia’s house four times throughout the evening, but no one answered. I called Kate. We’d known each other since we both moved into our split-level homes the same week, four years ago, and discovered we were both twenty-four, newlyweds, and wanted brick-incased ovens like the kitchen in The Brady Bunch, despite the fact we had both settled for builder’s standard GE ranges. When we met, she’d had a snobbishness that reminded me of the pearl-wearing sorority women I’d known in college, but I made an effort, mostly because I didn’t want a bad relationship with our next-door neighbors. She relaxed her attitude, after having her baby, and I began enjoying her company. There was solidarity in motherhood.


“I’ll be right over,” Kate said.


Kate joined Gin and me at the kitchen table. “Why don’t you call the police?” She juggled her six-month-old, Sarah, from one arm to the other.


“And say what? That Patricia Crawley’s son moved home, told me to watch for wildlife and her tools are messy? They’ll laugh at me.”


“When you put it that way, it does sound foolish.”


I gritted my teeth. She was supposed to reassure me, not say I sounded foolish.


Gin gripped John while placing a mug of tea in front of Kate.


I pushed the sugar bowl across the table with my sweet, curly-haired Mary on my lap. “I need to make sure she’s okay. What if Jude won’t let her come to the door?”


“Your imagination is getting away from you.” Kate laughed.


“We both know Patricia wouldn’t back out of plans she’d made. And we both know how she feels about her son.”


“And we both know there’s always more than one side to the story. Maybe there’s a reason Jude stayed away so long. Maybe Patricia is the one who put the rift there.”


“I doubt it. Mothers don’t do that to their sons.” Patricia had been my lifeline to sanity since my early parenthood days when I carried newborn Mary in a sling and wandered Patricia’s field in sleep-deprived stupor to stop her colicky cries. Patricia invited me into her kitchen for tea. She sliced fresh lemons and mixed the juice with honey. Our tea time became ritual. She doted on Mary, then John, the way a grandmother would. Patricia filled the hole that had been left after Aunt Helen died. “Jude resurfaced after vanishing for a decade. I don’t trust him.”


Kate shook her head. “I don’t know what you want me to say.”


“I need to make sure Patricia’s alright. I’m going back there tonight. I’d like you to say you’re coming with me.”


Her silence felt weighty.


I prepped myself for her no.


“Well . . .” Another hesitation. “Let me get Sarah to bed first. Then I’ll go.”


* * *


Flashlight in hand from the junk drawer, and Gin’s old Army jacket over my jeans, I headed to meet Kate. The jacket’s drab color camouflaged me in the darkness.


Kate showed up in a tomato red sweatshirt.


“Why didn’t you wear something dark?” I whispered.


Kate shrugged and answered at full-volume. “Why does it matter?” She began mounting the hill without me.


I jogged to catch up. “What if someone sees us?”


“We tell the truth. We’re going to Patricia’s.”


“I don’t know. Jude creeped me out. Sounded like he was bragging about not visiting his mother in such a long time.”


“Like I said earlier, maybe there’s a good reason. You could have asked him about it this morning. Or you could have asked to wait inside. Or you could have gone to the back door.”


Her snippy tone bothered me. I searched for an equally snippy reply as we walked in our odd Christmas colors, but decided to give her a break. Maybe she was just a tired mom, like me.


We rounded the corner of the farmhouse. Kate stopped one footstep ahead. She swung her left arm into my gut, like Aunt Helen used to do when she’d brake hard in the Cadillac.


Two men shined flashlights into the cellar’s opening.


I recognized Jude.


“I’ll push them up. You’re gonna have to pull them the rest of the way.”


I dropped flat onto the ground and belly-crawled forward in the grass. The crescent moon failed to illuminate much.


Jude handed a large gardening shovel to the other man. It was Mayor Eugene. Jude disappeared into the cellar.


The mayor dropped the shovel and lifted a five-gallon gray metal container from the hole. “Man these are heavy.”


“Shut up and take ‘em. I got more coming.” Jude lowered underground.


The mayor shouted into the hole. “You sure we’re gonna be able to get them to the pond?”


Jude resurfaced and yoked the shovel across his shoulders. “Shut up and load the buckets.”


The mayor slid the containers onto each side of Jude’s makeshift pole. “You got bossy while you were away.”


“And you got meaner.” Jude lumbered toward the woods and Turtle Pond.


A small spider scurried up my hand, tickling my fingers. I shook my hand over the grass. Undeterred, it crawled onto my wrist. I flopped my arm in the grass.


Jude stopped in the middle of the field. “Did ya hear that?”


The spider reached my elbow.


Jude dropped his load and whipped his flashlight out of his back pocket. “What kind of animals are out tonight?” He swept his flashlight in our direction. “I hate this place.”


I smashed the spider as it ran toward my armpit. How could Jude hate his home? I wanted to confront him. But I remained flattened, next to Kate, with spider guts smeared on the sleeve of Gin’s jacket.


“I didn’t hear anything.” The mayor laughed at Jude. “I’m the wildest animal you’re gonna find out here. Quit your baby cries.”


Jude flicked off the flashlight and pocketed it. “Come on.” He re-balanced his pole, and once more headed toward the wooden path. The mayor stumbled behind Jude, carrying one bucket.


My body shivered, more from nerves than cold, as Kate and I waited for them to leave. I counted in my head. One-one-thousand, two-one-thousand. I planned to go two minutes before moving, but Kate stood before I finished. “Okay. They’re gone.”


I needed to know what they were up to. “We have to go down there and open the containers.”


“I’d rather go home.”


“Please don’t leave me alone. I’ll go down there. You stand guard.”


Kate hesitated. “Fine. Do it fast.”


I peeled off Gin’s jacket and handed it to Kate. “Put this on so you’re not so bright.”

She draped it across her arm. “Don’t worry about me.”


The wooden stairs creaked as I stepped into the dim cellar. Musty earth permeated the small space. My hair snagged on the rough brick ceiling. The clay floor dampened my footsteps. The low, cold, underground tomb chilled my core. I wished I were home right now, rocking Mary to sleep, instead of standing in this spooky hole in the ground. But I had to find out what Jude and Mayor Eugene were up to. And I had to find Patricia.


Rows of metal five-gallon containers filled the cellar. I pressed my palm to the cool metal curve of one, feeling smoothness wrap all the way around. No label. I needed more light to identify the contents. I tugged its handle, dragged it toward the stairs, but couldn’t carry it upstairs. I’d have to open it in the cellar. I pressed my thumbs against the lid’s metal tabs. A tab bent my thumbnail backwards. “Ouch.”


“You okay down there?” Kate stage-whispered.


“I can’t open the container with my bare hands. I need a screwdriver.”


“All I have is a flashlight. Want it?”


I turned on the flashlight, hoping to find some sort of tool in the cellar. I took steps around the small underground room, sweeping light down the narrow rows of containers. The dirt floor had small divots and scrapes, like someone had poked the ground with a sharp object. I swept three of the four aisles without finding anything.


At the edge of the last row, nearest the back wall, a lone shoe rested on its side.


Patricia’s green gardening shoe.


I stepped closer and found Patricia’s other shoe.


On the dirt floor lay Patricia, curled on her side, in her long-sleeved shirt and gardening pants. The ones with big pockets for her tools, gloves and sometimes a Hershey’s kiss for each of my kids.


“No.” I dropped to my knees next to Patricia.


Rope bound her wrists and ankles. A blue bandana gagged her mouth. Another bandana covered her eyes. Blood matted the side of her silvery hair.


How could Jude do this to his own mother? I lowered the bandana from her eyes and untied the gag. Her eyes stayed closed.


Oh no oh no oh no. Patricia.


“What’s going on down there?”


I couldn’t answer.


“Juniper?”


I couldn’t move.


“I’m serious. What’s going on?”

“I found Patricia.” I still couldn’t move.


“Hurry. They’re coming back. I can see their flashlights in the woods.” It was the first time all evening that Kate had whispered.


I reached for Patricia’s leg.


She stirred.


Oh thank God. “I have to get Patricia.” I tugged at the knotted rope around her legs. I wiggled the tangle loose and slipped it off her feet. “Patricia? Can you hear me?”


She scrunched her eyes together.


I untied the rope from her wrists. “Who did this to you?”


“Jooper?” Her hoarse whisper scared me.


I put my shoulder under her armpit and planted my feet on the ground. I pushed upward, but couldn’t support her limp body. I set her down. I couldn’t carry her alone. “Kate. I need help.”


“They’re almost out of the woods. Hurry.”


I couldn’t leave Patricia alone. “Go get Gin. I’ll hide here.”


Kate didn’t respond.


“Kate?”


Jude and Mayor Eugene approached the cellar opening.


I clicked the flashlight off.


I had to hide. I crawled behind Patricia and pulled her body over mine. Her dense weight covered me like a blanket. All I could do was wait. I pressed my palm onto the smooth clay floor. Pushed against my fear. Did Kate get away? Push. Or was she hiding too? Push. What if they find her? Push. I breathed in. Exhaled out. Patricia’s body rose and fell with my own chest.


The stairs groaned as someone came into the cellar. My heart pounded. I wrapped my hand around the flashlight handle. I didn’t know who stomped down the stairs. I had to find a way to protect Patricia. I was afraid to move.


A rancid meat-sweat odor got stronger along with the clomp of his footsteps on the earthen floor. It was the mayor. He tripped over the container I’d left in the middle of the room. “Damn it.”


“What’s wrong?” Jude yelled from above ground.


“I tripped over the bucket. That’s what’s wrong. Why’d you put it here?” His gravelly voice boomed in the small cellar.


“I didn’t put nothin’ there.” Jude sounded annoyed. “You’re the one down there. Not me. Bring the glypho up. I wanna finish tonight. That nosey neighbor has been poking around.”


“We gotta do something about your mom.”


“Leave her out of this.”


“Still a mama’s boy, eh? Why don’t you bring your mama’s boy ass down here and help?”


Jude’s footsteps clunked down the rickety stairs. “Don’t talk about my mother.” He grunted and the sound of metal on metal clanged as he picked up two containers.


“I’ll talk about whoever I want. Your mama ran her mouth at the Co-Op last week.”


“So?” Jude climbed the stairs.


“So I shut her up. But sooner or later you’re gonna need to get her.” The mayor followed Jude out of the cellar. Their voices grew faint.


I was confused. Did Jude not know what had happened to his mother? Did the mayor do this to Patricia?


I waited for them to go away. One-one-thousand. Two-one-thousand. I got to one-hundred and decided it was safe. I nudged Patricia’s shoulders. “We have to go.”


She stirred, but wouldn’t open her eyes.


“Come on. You can do it.” I shook her gently, the way I woke Mary early some mornings.


I had been wrong about it being safe.


“That you, old lady Crawley? I hear. You scratchin’ around down there.” The mayor climbed into the cellar. “I’m coming to shut you up before your boy gets back.”


I swallowed the bile rising in my throat. I crouched near Patricia, hidden behind the row of canisters. I held my darkened flashlight with both hands. I remembered Gin’s army story about using all his body weight to fight back when they were attacked. I began to count down. Three. I took shallow, quiet breaths.


He stepped closer.


Two. Would I be able to hit him hard enough to stop him?


He was here.


One. I smashed the flashlight onto the back of his neck. The flashlight rolled away and the mayor landed on the floor.


I jumped over him and grabbed the rope that I’d found around Patricia’s legs earlier. I couldn’t get the rope around his legs. My stomach churned when he grabbed my wrist with his hand.


I balled my other fist and swung at him. He rolled sideways, avoiding my feeble attack. He thrust toward me and jabbed his finger at my face. “You should’ve minded your own business.” His dank breath steamed in my nostrils. I gagged. My undigested dinner filled my throat. I couldn’t stop it. Vomit flew from my mouth and onto his face and shirt.


“What the hell?” He shoved me backwards. He moved to the cellar stairs, climbed out and slammed the doors shut. The metal latch clinched into place.


Patricia spoke for the first time. “Dear.”


I knelt near her face.


“We have to—” Her voiced faded to nothing.


“Have to what? Patricia.”


She didn’t reply. I didn’t know what to do. I was too scared to cry. I had to think of something. I sat on the floor with Patricia’s head in my lap, stroking her hair away from her face the way I did with Mary at bedtime. How would we get out of here? I wished Patricia and I were at my kitchen table with teacups in our hands and my children asleep upstairs. I wished Gin were here. I had to think of a way out. Find our escape. I settled Patricia to my side and smoothed her rumpled clothes. A hard piece of metal poked from her pants pocket. Her dandelion weeder.


Maybe we weren’t trapped after all. We had a tool. Or a weapon. Maybe I could open the door lock with it.


I climbed the stairs to the locked batten doors. I poked at the space between them. But the doors were too close together. The hinges were on the outside. I couldn’t dismantle them. We were trapped.


How much time did we have before the mayor and Jude came back? What would they do to us when they came? I felt my way back to Patricia. I scooped her into my arms and held her until my legs grew numb. She came in and out of consciousness, murmuring in tiny moans that worried me.


I lost track of time in the dark.


What was it that Jude had said? Something about glypho? Glypho what?


An eternity later, the cellar door bolt slid open. I settled Patricia onto the floor and shook the tingly needles out of my feet. I stooped behind a row of containers with Patricia’s garden tool as my only hope. I braced for a fight. I would do whatever was necessary to get out of the cellar this time. No matter what.


The doors smacked open.


“Juniper? Where are you?” Gin’s footsteps clunked down the cellar stairs in rapid succession.


“Here.” I dropped the weeder. I took a step, but slid in the pile of vomit on the floor.


Gin reached me and lifted me away from the mess. He didn’t care that I had puke all over me. “Thank God you’re okay. Kate came to get me.” He carried me up the stairs and set me on the grass.


“Patricia’s down there.”


Kate put Gin’s jacket around my shoulders and sat down in the grass next to me.


“Where are the kids?”


“Bill has them.”


Her husband didn’t usually take care of the kids, but I knew he would keep our babies safe. That’s what mattered.


Kate left her arm around my shoulder. “I was so scared. We called the police. They’re tracking Jude and the mayor.”


Flashlights bobbed in the woods and dogs barked in the distance.


I had been right about Jude. He was dangerous. And he had hurt his mother. Even if he wasn’t the one who tied her up. Both he and the mayor were horrible people. I should have insisted on seeing Patricia when Jude opened the door this morning. I looked at Kate. “I was right about Jude.”


“I’m sorry, Juniper. I never should have said you imagined things.”


Gin carried Patricia to my side. I wrapped half the jacket around her shoulder and cuddled her close. Kate moved to the other side of Patricia and we huddled together. Gin stood guard.


Two police officers approached Gin. “EMS should be here any minute.”


Gin nodded. “There are about a hundred cans down there. Unmarked. I can’t tell what they’re up to.”


I looked up at Gin. “I heard Jude say glypho. I don’t know what that means.”


“Glypho?” The first officer moved closer to me. “Glyphosate?”


“I don’t know. I think he said glypho. They’re dumping it in the pond.”


The second officer spoke. “That would explain the reports of fish kill in the pond this week.”


“But why would someone poison the water? Especially Mayor Eugene?” Gin asked.


The paramedics arrived and strapped Patricia to a gurney. I climbed into the ambulance with her. Kate stood at the ambulance door. “I’m sorry I doubted you, Juniper.”


The paramedic pulled the doors shut from inside. Patricia and I were locked in safely now.


* * *


Two weeks later, Patricia’s physical injuries had healed. The emotional scars would remain for years. Kate and I climbed into Patricia’s Hornet Sportabout and the three of us drove to the entrance of Turtle Pond. Kate carried the box of bulbs and I dug the holes. Patricia talked while we worked. “That miserable excuse for a mayor almost killed me twice. Once when he poisoned my son’s mind. And again when he poisoned the fish.”


I stopped digging and looked at her. “Three times. He tried to kill you, too.” Fresh tears burned my eyes. Every time I thought about discovering Patricia in the cellar, I cried. “I thought I might…” I choked on “lose you.” There was a part of me that wished I had killed Mayor Eugene in revenge for his cruelty to Patricia. I would never tell anyone this, of course. Mothers didn’t say these things.


Kate dropped a bulb into the hole I’d dug. “But we didn’t lose Patricia.” She reached for another bulb. “And the mayor is in jail.”


But Jude was also in jail. I wondered how Patricia felt. “Have you talked to Jude?”


“He said I’d never understand him.” She reached down and pushed dirt of the flower bulb.


“Did he say why they were dumping glyphosate in the pond?” Kate plopped a bulb into the next hole.


“The mayor had a big plan to poison the pond, kill the fish, scare away the builder and buy the land from the developer for himself. He was going to run me out of town. He needed a place to hide the chemicals. He called Jude back to help him.”


Kate sat down in the dirt.


I stopped digging.


A tear rolled down Patricia’s cheek. “Jude was right, you know.”


I didn’t know what she meant. “About what?”


“Right that I’ll never understand.”



"Gougane Barra Reflection" by mozzercork.


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