A Plastic Garden Life
Vicki had the following prompts to choose from:
Amy – A plastic flamingo and a gnome
Cameron – Reading while under water
Erika – When is a woman like a baseball bat?
Jen – Cotton candy on a rainy day
Wendy – What would you do for a Klondike bar?
Prompt numero uno called my name, but didn’t want to tell me what to write. Here’s my attempt at channeling my inner Gnome…
“Ugh, she’s there again. She thinks she’s so cool standing there in that puddle day after day. And for what? Just to tick me off? What a schmuck. She’s got to stand there in the middle of that pond drawing attention to herself while I sit here in the shadows being forgotten about. That’s one narcissistic pink bird if I’ve ever seen one!”
Grumpy. That was one word to describe the little man who sat in the dirt, hidden behind the rose bushes and making it impossible for him to move or be moved. His hair had grown old and white and his beard unkempt. His red hat slouched low on his head and tucked behind his large, spade-shaped ears. His eyebrows were stuck in a turned right angle in the position, similar to a Real Housewife’s botched Botox injection. His beady eyes were as white as snow; however, his pupils small, dark and evil. One eye squinted permanently as if he had been forced to eat only sour lemons during his creation. A tobacco pipe dangled from a crease in his beard, just below his warty round nose, and the awkwardness of his angry face was reflected in his stiff body stature. He wore a yellow jacket that was propionate to the size of his head, but his legs were stubby and almost nonexistent. His hands were glued to his sides and mistakenly the same color as his jacket – almost as if someone had lazily manufactured him.
There had been others like him over the years, but they seemed to get prime real estate in the old woman’s garden. The others had upturned lips, happy faces and rosy cheeks that welcomed people up the flagstone walkway and to the front door of the Victorian-styled house. Since Gnome had none of these traits, he had been forgotten about, and every year, found himself being carelessly pushed farther back in between two rose bushes.
A small clearing in the bushes arched over him. The shaded cover gave him a limited view of the garden in addition to his already compromised peripheral vision, but sat him just near enough to the walkway that he could see people coming and going from the house. It wasn’t a bad spot for an irritable gnome to be if only he wasn’t directly behind a small pond that was the obvious attraction to the yard.
The pond was manmade without a symmetrical shape. Rocks and a few tall grasses erratically grew around certain spots at the pond’s perimeter. The old woman had invested in a solar powered fountain that bubbled all day long and gave the garden a soothing peacefulness.
Gnome’s scowl predetermined his attitude to despise absolutely everything that came his way – he actually liked his negativity and loved that his presence could make even the chirpiest bird hop by him quickly. But what he really hated in his unmoving world was the creature that stood in that pond every day.
Flamingo. She stood there. She stood in the middle of the pond. She stood on her one, wire leg that was firmly planted in the mud. Her vibrant hot pink body was etched with feathers. She, too, was an immobile creation, but her two wings were not since they were actually bolted into her body. Sometimes when there was a breeze in the New Mexican air, her wings would spin ever so slightly next to her neon body; yet she never moved. She never flew away. And that’s all that Gnome ever wanted her to do. Leave.
Flamingo’s long, skinny neck curved in a drastic “S” shape all the way up to her little head and oversized beak. She had a doofy expression, like a dog with its tongue hanging out of its mouth, and bewildered deer-in-headlights eyes. She was absolutely hideous and tacky but was the diamond in the old lady’s yard. She adored Flamingo.
The rest of the yard was overgrown with odd knickknacks and figurines, trees and plants. The old woman who lived in the house was a member of the local gardening club but no one could have come to that conclusion by the randomness of the scruffy garden. Gnome could care less about everything else in the garden because for his concern, the only thing he could really see was Flamingo.
This day began like all the rest, although he thought it would some how be different. He thought she’d be gone.
“Hey you!” He shouted. “Why don’t you go back to Florida where you came from?!” Gnome shouted. Deep down he knew he could only hear himself but he still bullied her. What he didn’t know in his world was that Flamingo, and him too for that matter, was not from Florida, but rather a warehouse in Plano, Texas that manufactured tacky garden accessories. Old women who belonged to gardening clubs with tawdry gardens were this manufacturer’s target market.
Gnome heckled Flamingo in this manner every morning. He had heard the old man next-door yell at some kids in a gruff, authoritative voice from time to time and they ran away in fear. Gnome figured it might work to scare away this bird, but it never did. Still, he tried.
“There are no shrimp in that pond Pinky! You’ll turn white soon!” He chortle and cackled and cracked himself up, and took great pride in his terrible torments to her. But she never moved, which just seemed to aggravate him more.
Just before noon, the mailman came up the walkway. “Just on time,” Gnome said in a friendly manner. “What do you have today for us?”
The mailman dropped a package on the doorstep, shoved a pile of mail in the slot in the door and bounced back down the flagstone way without a word.
“Errrr, what a schmuck,” grumbled Gnome.
Time passed like any other day but when you’re a gnome, you don’t know the difference. Boredom doesn’t exist. It’s just the way of the plastic garden creature life. Things happen all the time that cause excitement in the day. Rain brings crawly worms and snails that climb up and all around. Blooming roses attract various insects that buzz and hum. Even the neighbor’s cat thought that Gnome’s little crevice in the bushes made for a cozy spot to sleep for a full day. In the evening on that same day, that cat also thought Gnome’s particular spot was a special enough place to dig and sit for a while. A horrible stench came from the cat and was left in the ground. The smell remained for days despite the cat covering dirt on top of it. So you see, excitement comes in all forms, but isn’t an expected part of a garden gnome’s life.
On this particular day, no animal life had passed by him. The afternoon wind started to kick in and Flamingo’s wings took a leisurely spin. Gnome grumbled at the sight of her intentional “look at me” attitude.
The old woman emerged from the creaky house and maneuvered down the walkway for her afternoon stroll. “See ya later, Margerie,” Gnome called. He watched her waddle away, more spritely than usual, until he couldn’t see her past the bushes.
As the minutes past, he knew she wouldn’t be gone too long and he could see a change in the afternoon light. A sudden gust rushed the garden and Flamingo’s plastic wings spun quickly.
“Bet you wish you could fly away now! I wish you would!”
The wind pivoted the body of the bird in the water to turn her away from him so he could no longer see her profile.
“Oh! So now you turn your back to me? Real mature! Why don’t you tell me how you really feel Pinky?!” But he heard no response to his call other than the sounds in the garden.
The wind continued to come in abrupt gusts and the garden plants rustled as they were forced to mingle and tangle with other plants around them. A tree next to the house creaked as a heavy branch rubbed against another. It screamed in discomfort. The rustling became louder, and loose leaves and flowers ejected from their once nurturing homes. Even the Koi that shared the pond with the pink beast seemed perturbed by the sudden change in weather. Flamingo’s wings squeaked as they spun faster and faster. Faster and faster. Gnome’s excitement grew as he saw the wobble of her stand-alone leg start to increase. “Yessssssss,” he cooed. “Come on you stupid pink bird.”
And then it was that. One last forceful gust that toppled the plastic bird face first into the pond. The fish splashed from the abrupt intrusion in the water.
“Wahooooooo!” Gnome jumped inside himself. “That’ll teach you to stay out of my garden, Pinky!” Gnome had never felt so happy in his entire gnome life.
But it was short lived. With a face frozen in expression, the grumpy attitude always follows. Smiling cement frogs are always joyful and welcoming. Jade Buddhas are always enlightening. And grumpy gnomes are always grumpy.
“So what? Now you’re just going to float there in that pond?” More grumbling emitted from the fat, stubby character.
The old woman was in brisk stride as she hurried back from her gusty walk and bundled in her jacket. As she came up the walkway, she paused to look at the recent change in the garden.
“What a shame,” she said softly and walked away without giving it another thought.
Dusk set in and the windstorm had died down. Evening sounds of crickets chirping and frogs bellowing in song emerged from the earth and Mason jar lights that were scattered around the garden came to life, illuminating the bountiful plants. The garden seemed to make beautiful sense at this time of day, something that just looked cluttered during the daylight. The thriving night rolled in and the sky blackened. The plants became alive, just as the garden figurines fell fast. Gnome’s thoughts quieted. He could no longer see the pond that angered him during the day. Flamingo was finally gone, making him content. The hum of the nightlife roared in full swing and continued until the birds woke and took over in song when the dark night turned into dawn.
When morning came, Gnome found the neighbor’s cat wrapped around him. Grumpy as ever, he cursed at the cat to move, but it curled and wiggled all around him instead. He heard the old lady come out of the house and putter around in the yard a bit.
With his vision compromised he shouted, “Hey Margerie! Move this damn fluffy beast from my nook! … Margerie?!”
The old lady walked by the rose bushes and the cat scurried away. Her feet stood in the way of his once secluded archway.
“Thanks you old bird. That cat was driving me bonkers.” Her weight shifted as she picked a rose and walked back to the house.
Gnome’s vision sharpened as things came into view. He couldn’t believe what he was starting to see. If it could, his wicked scowl enhanced. His eyebrows grew vertically farther away from each other. His unseen frown became more extreme. He looked to the pond.
Flamingo had returned. Standing stronger than ever. The old woman must have brought her back to life. Curses.
The old woman reopened the front door and walked to the pond with a familiar looking box. The same box that the mailman dropped off the day before. He examined her opening the parcel and watched her walk to the pink plastic bird. She turned her back to Gnome, hesitated and then with a forceful downward motion, plunged something into the pond. She brushed her hands of dirt and placed them on her hips before surveying the pond. She walked inside the house.
Gnome was speechless. Shock. Because there he stood. A second plastic, pink flamingo.
All Gnome could do was grumble.
Vicki Taylor lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and loves to write about the horribly humiliating events of her life and welcome others into her personal chuckle hut. In between working and working out and working out her mind, she puts pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) in an attempt to open her life up to others with the official start of her first novel. She lives an active lifestyle, has the best dog in the world and enjoys adventuring anywhere that will have her.