The shed stands alone at the bottom of the garden. He sits there day after day analyzing the properties of compost. She is in the garden with the dogs, a middle aged, pear-shaped woman. She is the mother of three dogs. The dogs have become her life and it isn’t the life she had hoped for. The dogs are everything to her now. She gazes at the shed. She feels like a silent witness on the sidelines of life. She can smell wet dog, astringent and bitter. She has a chocolate brown retriever, two terriers and the paraphernalia of canine life. For her, life is not complicated.
Ten years ago it was different. She was a young bride wishing that her new husband would take her and whirl her away in a mad, fast tango that would go on for ever. Her heart burst open with emotional enthusiasm as the fragrance of falling rose petals pierced her joy. But his life turned into compost, into rotting vegetation and earthy calculations as he tried to compensate for the disappointment of a barren marriage. Down there in the shed, weighing and measuring and collecting data. Oh, thank heavens for the dogs!
There is so much blood. It covers the front of the lorry and slides down the silver paint and drips onto the road. She cradles the lifeless body, the matted fur and dangling paws. The driver stands beside her. The palms of his hands are turned up to face the sky and he shrugs his shoulders slightly. There is pain behind his eyes.
“I couldn’t stop, lady. Your dog was under my wheels before I could brake. I am sorry.”
The earth and sky collide. She is squeezed between them, suffocating, drowning in all that blood. The earth is a wet ball spinning in space, spinning out of control. She wants her husband back.
The shed in the garden is a foreign country. She is a pilgrim on a stony road. She is on her knees, crawling, crying. The tears run down her face and the little dogs lick up the salty wetness. She doesn’t care. She doesn’t see them. She only wants her husband. She is a heap lying at the door, sobbing and begging. The smell of the wet leaves in the trial compost heaps is of death and decay. Death and decay.
He opens the door and pulls her to himself. He is making small comfortable noises and he is kissing her hair, wiping her tears, smearing blood all over his shirt. For the first time ever, he bends down and gently lifts the two little dogs up into her arms. He steps out of the shed and closes the door behind him.
Leaves fall. Compost is heaped up, then it heats up and then it decays. Soon it will bring back life. When spring comes again, he will spread it around the garden and then watch the new leaves unfurl.
He picks up a shovel and gently takes her to the rose garden. Underneath the roses, the fragrant pink roses, he starts to dig a grave.