Flash Fiction—Reflections on the Toad’s Garden

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Flash Fiction Month continues, and the toad’s garden makes a return as does the woman with a beard (see the archives for earlier pieces with these). Welcome back to some of my more surreal, more experimental and less conventional writing. Please like, share, leave comments here—is this a story? Does it work for you? Are you, like Pansy, left laughing? Let me know your responses. Thank you.

Reflections on the Toad’s Garden

The toad from the garden sent the woman with a beard a Valentine every year. As he usually hibernated that time of year, he arranged it through an agency. It encouraged her to feed the garden and take care of him, his geometry, and the calculus of time as they unfolded in chaos theory across the tiny fulcrum at the center of tadpole pool, an island of insanity he installed one year, being a rather handy toad.

He did not scrimp in his work, seeking his goal to fuse time and space into a grand unified theory of dreamscapes spinning out from a spiral arm of a galaxy sailing through the universe at incredible but reducing velocity.

The woman with the beard realized that the toad did not send the Valentine and that his reasons for having it sent had more to do with utilitarianism than desire. Still, she tended the garden. Each spring, she planted the outline of a house with sunflower seeds and morning glories.

The morning glories climbed up the sturdy scaffolding of the sunflower stalks and created blooming walls by summer. Here she would set up lawn chairs and a table and spend many a summer afternoon with the toad, learning about how photons could entangle even before both of them existed, suggesting that entanglement perhaps tunneled through time, like certain encryption techniques using fiber optics.

Sometimes a tortoise joined them for iced tea. The three of them sat around a looking glass the woman with a beard had set in the ground, surrounding it with stones to give the effect of a reflecting pool. The tortoise ponderously added his theories of inter-folded parallel universes that derived directly from possible world philosophy, only without the theology.

By fall, the birds came to raid the sunflower seeds. In the winter, the tall stalks with any remaining heads served as bird feeders, too. And the following spring, the woman with the beard started the cycle again with a wave of her hands, as it were, as she spread the next year’s seed.

The toad approved. And she always assisted with his garden. In this way, the two of them lived in not-quite-symbiotic relatedness, as close as, and a great deal more honest than, most human couples ever get.

The toad only left for meditative higher planes, never on a jet plane, and always in the main remained right where she could find him. And she never questioned his mathematical improbabilities or the raison-d’etre of the garden and his French accent. They simply settled into a habit, side by side, and purposely left each other to pursue their hirsute pursuits, her beard, his chaos spun-string theories.

Thinking of this, she drifted back to the beach bar with her collection of Valentines in hand, sorting out a toad’s love call from the occasional punctuations of human lovers come and gone. The thing was, the math made sense, the addition and subtraction of others that ended up coming down to zero plus one. The theory had no holes in it that she could find.

And memory won out each time she tried to look toward a future. Thus, possible worlds branched from past recollections, like these Valentine cards and the whiskey with the melting ice cubes swirling in her glass.

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