A Bank Holiday ahead and an extra day on the allotment, the decision is easy. I put on my weathered clothes, slip on my wellies and remember I need a few bits from the garden shed for the allotment. It’s here where my day changes. I step into the garden with the sun on my back and the garden bursting with life, but she’s not happy. She knows where I’m going. No matter how I try to hide it she knows. The clothes give it away, the musky smell of dried earth on my sweater, there’s no mistaking that aroma: I have a date and it’s not with her.
But when did she first suspect? When I said I wouldn’t be planting vegetables anymore. ‘But darlin’ think of all that extra space. I can get you more flowers’. Or was it the recent t-shirt tanline that gave it away, ‘I can’t keep wearing long sleeves, summer’s coming’. Maybe she saw the dirt under my nails and knew it wasn’t hers.
I’m feeling guilty, even reluctant to go, but I know up on that allotment there’s a plot waiting for my gardener’s touch. Inviting me to sink my hands into her warm soil, shape her beds and tend to her weeds. In return she promises me a bumper crop and a place where I can escape from reality, if only for a few hours.
I suppress my guilt, turn to my garden and make promises that I’ll water her tomorrow, maybe treat her to a wicker trellis or some solar lights. But she knows I won’t be back today, to her they’re just empty promises.
How do the others do it? Juggle them both without a care in the world? Surely ‘heartless’ and ‘gardener’ are not phrases that sit together. What to do, what to do? But as I continue to write and the guilt continues to mount I turn to the snaps I took earlier today of that enticing plot that always has a smile for me and I know, deep inside I know, I’ll never leave her. She had me the first time I pulled back her tarpaulin.