I only started going into the garden at night to shake the earwigs from the dahlias. I’d reared a bed of them along the side of the garage. A row of pinky-orange pompoms cheering colour. Earwig removal is a delicate business. You have to creep up on the beasts — like you do on a thought — jolt the bloom firmly, not too hard.
I’d only started doing the garden because I had to get my act together, because it looked a mess, like me, because why was I loafing around the house after work. But now I thought too much about the garden — thought more of the flowers, bushes and creatures than anything else — which was selfish, boring.
One night I must have stayed out too long because the door had been locked against my return. I found a deckchair in the garage wedged among the junk, set it on the lawn facing the dahlias and sat half-dozing thoughts of earwig defeat; oil traps, the befriending of earwig predators. In the morning I studied the dahlias’ freshness and strength of stem. My limbs were stiff and inflexible. I needed to adapt.
I only thought of dragging out the tent when the first sniff of autumn came. If I loved the garden so much I could bloody sleep there from now on. Staring up at the canvas, I thought of the depth of sky beyond, how there was nothing between me and outer-space. I felt my immersion in the garden; foxes and hedgehogs passing inches from my cheekbone, the dahlias nodding, sending down messages to the bulb about winter, warnings about what was in store.
I needed to find somewhere else to overwinter, somewhere warm and hospitable to lodge myself. I dreamt of digging up the bulbs and creeping off.
First published by Lunate (July 2020).